Meta Quest 3—First Reactions

Meta Quest 2 and Quest 3 side-by-side. The newer device is a bit smaller and lighter and has more outward pointing cameras.

It occurred to me that there’s no real way to develop for mixed reality without a mixed reality headset. The idea of trying to build a Vision Pro app that’s more than just an iOS / macOS app floating in space using the simulator is just not going to cut it.

Second, while Vision Pro will probably be the most important game in town for the next few years, Meta Quest 3 is likely to either be the closest alternative “for the rest of us” and/or give us an idea of what the competition will be like. If you want to reach the broadest audience, you’ll need to have some familiarity with what else is out there.

And third—I won’t say finally—I want to start immersing myself in this technology now rather than wait until March 2024, say.

So I got myself a Quest 3.

Even getting the 512GB version, it’s cheaper than my first Oculus Rift or any decent Smartphone with 512GB of storage. As to why I sprang for the extra storage: this may easily turn out to be a development tool, and if I want to (say) use IndexedDB to maintain large local databases, storage will likely become important.

Also, I’ve never regretted getting more storage on a device.

Powering On 🫤…😍

magnified and in good light it is at least clear which button the finger is pointing at, but that button didn't seem to do anything (at first).

Turning the device on was surprisingly cryptic—the image on the box was tiny and hard to make out in my dimly lit living room. Turns out I guessed the right button but the device didn’t respond and tried pushing and turning other buttons and knobs. Eventually it came to life, I guess it was just slow.

Also, my contact lenses are in delivery limbo so I was wearing glasses. I was afraid the new design wouldn’t be usable with glasses but it’s fine. I assume everything will be better without glasses.

Unlike the predecessor which kind of locks you into setting up boundaries and so on before you can do anything, you can just pop these on and still see the world around you. It’s a completely different and superior initial experience to any other VR device I’ve used.

Automatic Boundaries 😍

You can create a boundary by just walking around your space and letting the device’s LIDAR do its thing. This works pretty damn well (if, again, it’s a tad sluggish to respond). Very cool.

Motion Tracking 🤷🏼‍♂️

I opted to switch it on. It’s not on. I haven’t figured out where the settings are in the new UI. Motion Tracking on the Quest 2 is worse than useless. I have high hopes the Quest 3 will be better.

Controllers 😎

The new controllers are nice, but—like a stylus—they should be optional or unnecessary. We’ll see.

Image Quality 😍

The image is slightly, barely noticeably, better in the midfield and simply vastly better at the periphery. So it’s not-quite-retina in the middle and obviously blurred or distorted at the periphery.


Passthrough Image Quality 😎

The passthrough image quality is decent but, at least in my dimly-lit Finland apartment, pretty grainy. Going back to the Quest 2, the passthrough image is color vs. black-and-white and also supports much better dynamic range. As others have noted, distortion of close-up views, like if you’re trying to check your phone, is pretty bad, but you can usually position the thing so as to be able to read it. The big thing is that dynamic range is such that displays aren’t simply blinding white rectangles.

Decent but not overwhelming.

Tracking 🫤

Surprisingly, I’ve found the tracking to be a little bit twitchier on the Quest 3, but this may be in part because the Quest 3 lets you move around much more freely. I’ll probably come back to this.

I should note that the passthrough image seems to be rock solid, it’s the floating UI elements that seem jittery. Which is odd.

UI Differences 🫤

For some reason, I couldn’t figure out how to resize windows on the Quest 3. The UI is similar but different in lots of little ways. I’m pretty sure both of my devices are fully patched.

Meta Quest Software (iPhone) 🫤

I paired my Quest 3 to my phone (same app I paired my Quest 2 to) and somehow it’s attached to a different account, so that’s fabulous. I’ll figure that out eventually, but what a PITA. In general, the setup experience was pretty mediocre.

First on opening the box it tells you to scan a QR code to launch the app (and then somehow end up signed into the wrong Meta account). Also it can’t pass your wifi credentials to the device without your providing the password. (It’s not an Apple device, obviously so I guess it can’t just get it or pass a magic token. Still, sad.) Then it wants to update itself and when it comes back it wants to pair all over again and gets stuck on that for a while before discovering the device it already discovered and displaying an error screen and… it’s kludgy.

So far, so good. I assume a lot of my issues will disappear once I adjust some settings, get the correct accounts hooked up, and so forth.