PICO just announced its latest VR headset: the PICO 4. While this headset is most immediately competing with the Meta Quest 2, it has some features that put it ahead of Meta’s current VR headset. One of the most notable features is “pancake optics”; next-generation lens technology that allows for flatter lenses and a more compact headset design. It’s a feature we are currently anticipating in the rumored Meta Quest Pro.
Unfortunately, for U.S. customers, you won’t be able to get your hands on the PICO 4 right away — if ever. The VR headset is launching on October 18 in thirteen European countries including the U.K., Japan and Korea. It will start at £379 or €429 for a headset with 128GB of storage. There are also plans to launch in Singapore and Malaysia later this year. Pre-orders start on September 23.
Note: The upcoming Meta Quest 3 looks to blow the Pico 4 out of the water with a powerful upgrade.
PICO 4: Specs
The PICO 4 comes with 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. This is a bit of a step forward from the PICO Neo 3, which only featured 6GB of RAM. The chipset remains unchanged from the previous generation, as the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 looks set to remain the standard of the VR world for now. However, PICO does state that improved cooling systems should lead to increased performance despite the unchanged CPU.
The display is where the PICO 4 makes some strides, at least on paper. The resolution per eye leaps forward to 2160 x 2160 pixels per eye. This should lead to a noticeable difference compared to the PICO Neo 3’s 1832 x 1920 resolution. The field of view is also increased to 105 degrees, which is also a noted improvement compared to many current-gen headsets.
As previously stated, the pancake optics do allow for improved construction, though by themselves they do not necessarily equal a better display. Most likely, the thinner display allowed for the headset to be lighter and more compact. This is good news given that the battery on the PICO 4 is a big reason why the headset weighs a (relatively) whopping 1.3 pounds. However, this battery is on the rear of the headset, so PICO claims it leads to a more ergonomic design overall compared to the competition.
PICO 4 versus Meta Quest 2
While not a massive gap, the specs listed for the PICO 4 do suggest a better headset than the Meta Quest 2. The display resolution is a significant improvement compared to the 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye resolution of the Quest 2, and the PICO 4’s 105-degree field-of-view outclasses the 90-degree field of view for the Quest 2.
Aside from the display, the two headsets are fairly similar. However, there are two areas where Quest 2 may have an advantage. First, the battery life for each headset is two to three hours (technically PICO 4 is 2.5-3), so without testing them against each other, there is a chance that the Meta Quest 2 performs better on that front. The Quest 2 does have a clear advantage in terms of weight, though again, PICO 4 claims its more ergonomic design may make its headset more comfortable.
PICO 4: Outlook
Unfortunately for the PICO 4, the one area where the Meta Quest 2 has a clear advantage is its access to the U.S. market. Since the two headsets have similar price points the PICO 4 may be the better value of the two headsets.
This could undercut the device’s ability to succeed. The more users an ecosystem has, the more developers will want to develop apps for it. It remains to be seen whether missing out on one of the largest VR markets in the world will hurt that. Hopefully, it doesn’t because the PICO 4 feels like just the competition Meta needs to spur innovation.