The Pico 4 should blow the Quest 2 out of the water but it has some software issues that hold it back and make it feel more like a work in progress than a fully polished product.
Slightly cheaper than the Quest 2
Software lags behind Quest 2
Mixed reality features haven't achieved their potential
No headphone jack
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Given its rival’s dominance of the VR space for the past couple of years, the Pico 4 was always going to have to prove itself against the Oculus Quest 2. And thankfully for Pico, the comparisons are generally favorable.
There’s a great Pico 4 Black Friday deal available this year. If you pick one up between November 24 and November 30, 2022, you’ll get three free games with your purchase: RuinsMagus, Les Mills BodyCombat, and After The Fall.
From a specs perspective, its components are at least as good as what Meta offers. But it kicks things up a gear with an extra 2GB of RAM (for 8GB total), a higher-resolution 2,160 x 2,160 pixels per eye display, and color passthrough that could one day facilitate immersive mixed-reality experiences.
It sports a comfier design that better distributes the weight around your head, rather than having a front-heavy design like the Oculus Quest 2. As a result, even though the Pico 4 is 83g heavier than the Quest 2 it feels lighter and easier to wear.
Plus, the Pico 4 costs a little less than the Quest 2 at £380 (around $430 / AU$680) or £450 (around $510 / AU$810) for its 128GB and 256GB of storage models respectively – though it doesn't come with a free game like Beat Saber.
However, despite its clear upgrades the Pico 4 has issues that stop it from achieving its full potential right now.
The first is a lack of polish. Settings that should be the default (like the display having a 90Hz refresh rate) are currently experimental or in-development features, and the passthrough (while full color) isn’t as sophisticated as what the Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro can achieve.
Another is its library of games. Despite including some of the best Oculus Quest 2 games like Wands Alliances and Walkabout Mini Golf, it lacks some heavy hitters that appear on Meta’s hardware. This includes some of our favorites like Beat Saber and Resident Evil 4 VR. While Pico has promised that exclusive titles like Just Dance will be coming its way in 2023, it’s not yet clear if these games will rival Meta’s exclusives, nor how many exclusives are coming.
The VR headset also isn’t available everywhere – you can only buy it in the UK, Europe, and parts of Asia right now.
Overall, the Pico 4 is a great device – and worthy of a place on our best VR headsets list – but it sometimes feels like a work in progress. The issues aren't enough to make the headset bad in its own right, but they are enough to make the race between the Pico 4 and Quest 2 feel much closer than it should be.
Pico 4: Price and availability
The Pico 4 headset costs £380 (around $430 / AU$680) for a model with 128GB of storage and £450 (around $510 / AU$810) for 250GB. That’s £20 and £40 cheaper respectively than the equivalent Oculus Quest 2 models. That said, if you factor in that Meta’s Quest 2 comes with a free £23 game (Beat Saber) for now, then the price for the headsets is a bit closer.
Unfortunately, the Pico 4 is only available in the UK, Europe, and parts of Asia, so those outside of those territories are unable to buy one without importing it.
Pico has told us it’s looking to expand into other markets but hasn’t provided any firm details about its plans. However, given that some of the biggest Pico 4 leaks came from FCC filings we wouldn’t be surprised if at least a US expansion was on the cards for 2023. We’ll have to wait and see.
- Value score: 4.5/5
Pico 4: Design
- Weight is well balanced
- Intuitive controls
- No headphone jack
We really like the design of the Pico 4. While it’s not quite as comfy as the Meta Quest Pro it is a huge step up from the Oculus Quest 2 as it doesn't use the same front-loaded design. Instead, like the Meta Quest Pro, the Pico 4 spreads its weight across the headset – the display and main processor are on the front and its battery is placed at the back as part of the strap.
Along with its pancake lens optical setup – which is thinner than what the Quest 2 uses – we found that even though the Pico 4 is heavier than its Meta rival – coming in at 586g compared to 503g – it generally looks and feels less bulky.
The design isn’t quite perfect, though.
The first negative we noticed was that the face padding is covered in fabric rather than silicone – which is what the Quest 2 comes with. If you tend to work up a sweat in VR then you’ll want to purchase the Pico Sports Kit add-on to ensure your headset doesn’t soak up your face sweat.
There’s also no headphone jack. While we found the 360-degree spatial audio to be immersive and microphone quality solid, players might still want to upgrade the setup – especially if they want a more private experience. If you’re in that camp then you’ll need a pair of Bluetooth headphones that can connect wirelessly to the Pico 4.
Because wired headphones tend to use less battery power than the device’s Bluetooth chip, being forced to use wireless headphones will have a larger impact on how long you can stay immersed.
As for the controllers, they have a distinct design but are functionally similar to what the Quest 2 offers. The only advantage is the tracking ring’s shape and position, which allow the controllers to get closer together before bumping into each other. This can help experiences feel a tad more immersive, though it’s by no means a game changer.
- Design score: 4/5
Pico 4: Specs and features
- Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chip and 8GB of RAM
- Full-color passthrough
- 2,160 x 2,160 pixel per eye resolution
The Pico 4 has some pretty solid components under the hood. It starts with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chip as the Quest 2 but soups it up with 8GB RAM compared with its rival’s 6GB. It also comes with a 5300mAh battery that helps it last for two-and-a-half to three hours, as well as support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.
It doesn’t just have more raw power, the Pico 4 has a higher resolution display too, with its single 4,320 x 2,160 pixel screen that provides 2,160 x 2,160 per eye ( up from the Quest 2’s 1,832 x 1,920 pixels). It also provides players with a wider field of view at 105 degrees, meaning you can see more of the virtual world by moving your eyes rather than having to turn your whole head.
Where the screen falls down is its max refresh rate of 90Hz, the minimum most people require to not feel queasy just standing still in VR. The default setting is actually just 72Hz, so you have to go into Settings and then the experimental Lab tab to turn on 90Hz gameplay and make the VR experience comfortable. The Quest 2 has 90Hz as default and offers the ability to turn on an experimental 120Hz mode.
This lack of polish follows the Pico 4 into its other upgrade over the Quest 2: full-color passthrough. If you’re wearing the Pico 4 and want to see the real world without taking it off – either as part of a mixed-reality experience, when drawing out your play area’s boundaries or to check what’s happening IRL without wasting time loosening the straps – you’ll see it in full-color thanks to the device’s cameras. In contrast, the Quest 2 only provides a black-and-white image, which isn’t as good for creating immersive augmented and mixed-reality games.
However, we felt the perspective was a little off. The fisheye lenses may show you the real-world space but the Pico 4 doesn’t give its image the right sense of depth – whereas the Oculus Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro do. We also noticed that it doesn’t highlight and warn you when an object is inside your play area, which Meta’s devices do.
There’s not yet a must-play reason for color passthrough on the Pico 4. We’re hopeful that Pico and Bytedance will create one themselves., And with color passthrough also a feature of the Meta Quest Pro we’ll hopefully see cross-platform titles get mixed-reality updates on both Meta’s and Pico’s hardware.
- Specs and features score: 4/5
Pico 4: Software
- Solid line up of games
- No standout exclusives right now
- Mixed reality features not put to good use yet
What’s the point of having a great VR headset if you’ve got nothing to play on it? Thankfully, the Pico 4’s digital store has a wide selection of titles that include some of the best VR games out there, like Walkabout Mini Golf.
Unfortunately for Pico players, a few great VR games – like the hugely popular Beat Saber and Resident Evil 4 VR – aren’t available on the platform. Beat Saber may launch on Pico (it is Meta-owned but its Steam port gets updates as regularly as its Quest version) but Resident Evil 4 and upcoming titles like Ghostbusters VR and GTA San Andreas VR will likely never launch on a non-Meta Quest system.
Pico has said its headset will feature its own suite of exclusive hits – with one of the first expected to be Just Dance when it launches in 2023 – but so far there’s nothing of note on the Pico 4 that isn’t playable on the Quest 2.
- Software score: 3/5
Should you buy the Pico 4?
Buy it if…
You want a powerful budget-friendly VR headset
This standalone VR headset offers some solid upgrades over the Quest 2 in terms of specs and won’t break the bank like Meta’s own upgraded hardware the Quest Pro.
You don’t care about Meta Quest exclusive games
If you aren’t desperate to play titles like Beat Saber or Resident Evil 4 VR (games that aren’t on the Pico Store but are on the Meta Quest Store) then you’ll find plenty of other great VR games to keep you entertained.
You want a headset with a comfy design
Thanks to its pancake lenses and better weight distribution this VR headset isn’t front-heavy like most of its rivals, which makes it feel much comfier to wear.
Don’t buy it if…
You want a polished product
The Pico 4 and its software have a lot of potential, but a few aspects feel rough around the edges. The issues aren’t major but they make the race between the Pico 4 and Quest 2 feel much closer than it should be.
You want a headset with eye-tracking
If you want a proper next-gen VR headset that comes with eye-tracking this isn’t the headset for you. Instead, you’ll need to grab the much more expensive Meta Quest Pro, or wait for Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 headset.
You get motion sick easily
We spend a lot of time in VR so motion sickness isn’t as impactful as it used to be, but even we struggled to use the Pico 4 at its default 72Hz refresh rate. You can turn it up to 90Hz but it isn’t obvious how to do this (the option is hidden in the Lab Settings tab rather than the Display Settings) and there’s no 120Hz refresh rate option to make supported experiences even less nauseating.
Oculus Quest 2
The Oculus Quest 2 may lag behind the Pico 4 in terms of its specs, but its software and level of polish gives it a massive boost over this new rival.
Meta Quest Pro
The Meta Quest Pro won't suit everyone – it's very pricey ( $1,500 / £1,500 / AU$2,450) and it's more aimed at mixed reality than VR – but if you're after a headset with a truly next-gen feel it could be the device for you.
Pico 4: Report card
|Design||The Pico 4 has a well balanced weight distribution and comfy design, but we wouldn't recommend working out with it without using a silicon cushion cover.||4/5|
|Specs and features||This VR headset has some solid specs and great features like full color passthrough, but its potential hasn't yet been realized.||4/5|
|Software||You won't struggle to find something fun to play on the Pico 4, but its hardware lags behind the quality of the Meta Quest 2 right now.||3/5|
|Value||With better specs and a lower price than the Oculus Quest 2, the Pico 4 VR headset is really good value for money.||4.5/5|
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Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.