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Is the Pico Neo 3 VR headset worth buying in 2022?

With the constant flow of VR headset releases, there is one headset that really stood out last year: Pico Neo 3. Our 2022 review answers the question whether it is still a viable option this year or to wait for the Neo Link 3.
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Pico Interactive is the ByteDance-owned Chinese startup that made its entry into the virtual reality space in 2021. Pico, as a company, however, dates back to 2016 and has been making standalone VR headsets for over six years.

In May of last year the company released the Pico Neo 3, which has since been regarded as a principal competitor to the Oculus Quest 2. In this post, we’ll explain how the headset differs from its predecessor, the Pico Neo 2 and whether the headset still holds up in the year 2022. With the Pico Neo Link 3 coming up in May, it’s also worth answering whether one should wait for this release or go ahead and grab the Neo 3.

Photo credit: Pico Interactive

But before we begin…

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Background

While the company positions itself as “making headsets for everybody“, their releases are really more concerned with applications in education, coaching and corporate training.

However, when it did release the Pico Neo 3, it did so together with two other headsets – the Neo 3 Pro and Neo 3 Pro Eye to appeal to different customers. The Pro series was released exclusively for corporate businesses, while the standard Pico Neo 3 had the regular consumer in mind.

Pico Neo 3 Specifications

Chipset: The standalone autonomy and lifeblood of the headset comes from the processor. When it comes to chipset, the Pico Neo 3 replaced the Snapdragon 845 with the Snapdragon XR2. This would put the performance on par with the Oculus Quest 2 in this category.

Photo credit: Pico Interactive

Screen and dimensions: The Pico Neo 3 has a curved 4K LCD screen with refresh rates up to 90 Hz. However, it has a lowered screen resolution compared to the Pico Neo 2; 1832×1920 instead of 1920×2160 per eye and an increased refresh rate (72-90Hz instead of 75Hz).

RAM: Compared to its predecessor, the RAM in the Pico Neo 3 remains at 6GB, but has increased the size of built-in memory. Three packages of 64/128/256GB are available. However, the slot for additional memory has been removed, which was present in the Pico Neo 2.

Inter-lens distance: The adjustment of the inter-lens distance has also been altered. Instead of keeping the software setting in the range of 55-71 millimeters, Pico have made manual adjustment with three modes, just like Oculus.

Accessories: Controllers and Tracking

The controllers are definitely a strong point of the Pico Neo 3, but look similar to the Quest 2 counterparts, except more… elongated. Pico dropped the magnetic-inertial controllers for the new helmet in favor of two 6DoF controllers with 32 optical tracking sensors that allow for more accurate locating in “messy” environments. It’s safe to say that these have been redesigned to be more ergonomic and lightweight.

Just like the Oculus Quest 2, the Pico Neo 3 features controllerless hand tracking. This is a useful feature that is essential for developing a range of different applications and interactions within them.

But this is not all. There are also four wide-angle cameras on the helmet itself. According to the company, they provide precise positioning and tracking of the headset at the millimeter level.

All in all, the controllers of the new Pico Neo 3 feel very similar to the Oculus Touch, but slightly more elongated. This is refreshing compared to the previous controllers. These felt cheap since they were made of cheap plastic and were not very comfortable.

In this sense we can assume that they are about to focus on a different target market in the future.

The new controllers are easy to track and are comfortable to hold in your hand. Judging by both the appearance and functionality, we can assume that Pico could possibly transcend the business segment and move into the gaming sphere.

Photo credit: Pico Interactive

Usability

When it comes to usability, there are a few elephants in the room that must be addressed. Firstly, that the Pico Neo 3’s design is similar to the Oculus Quest 2. Yes, this is true, but this particular headset does have its own charm and features.

For example, the battery is placed at the back of the headset which creates a sense of balance, and the weight distribution is actually not bad. Even though the Neo 3 weighs slightly more than the Oculus Quest 2, it is not something that is really felt. It’s a huge contrast to the Quest 2, where your cheeks become tired from all the hanging.

The bindings are back to normal with this headset compared to its predecessor. They removed the uncomfortable and, quite frankly, weird system that was in the Neo 2 and brought back the mount used on the Pico G2 4K. Great!

Final verdict

Yes, this is a great headset and may actually be a great competitor to the Oculus Quest 2. The headset is definitely high quality, visually appealing and rests comfortably on the head.

When it comes down to the nitty and gritty and when looking at the specifications, the Pico Neo 3 headset does have stark similarities to the Oculus Quest 2, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Competition is good in this market. What’s unfortunate, however, is when looking at the next headset set to be released by Pico – the Neo Link 3. That one is also said to have very few differences compared to the Oculus Quest 2 which shows that Pico may just be looking to stay toe-to-toe with Oculus.

In this scenario, it would be wise to grab the Pico Neo 3 since Pico considers the next headset to be a “soft launch“, according to UploadVR.

What is refreshing is that Pico has really stepped up to an entire new level. With the above in mind, it is fair to say that it can definitely compete with the other VR market leaders in the year 2022.


If you enjoyed this review of the Pico Neo 3, consider reading our post about the Varjo Aero “prosumer” headset available here.

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