logoUPDATE

VR headsets to look out for in 2023

VR headsets to look out for in 2023
logoUPDATE
  • Added MeganeX
  • Updated Vive XR Elite

In 2023, there could be more VR headsets on the market than ever before. Which devices are confirmed, and which do we hope for?

2023 could go down as one of the most eventful years in the history of virtual reality. That’s because this year will see the launch of both Playstation VR 2 and Meta Quest 3, which should leave a lasting mark on the industry just like their predecessors. If Apple finally were to step into the industry spotlight as well, 2023 would be a truly historic year. But that remains to be seen.

Let’s start with the confirmed VR headsets and then move on to the devices that are only rumored to be in development and could appear in 2023.

Confirmed VR/XR headsets

Vive XR Elite

Since October 2022, HTC has been teasing a standalone device for consumers that is supposed to compete with Meta Quest 2, but is likely to be significantly pricier than the latter.

In November, hardware analyst Bradley Lynch leaked the headset, which seems to be a mix of Vive Focus 3 (review) and Vive Flow, offers a detachable head mount, can be connected to external sources and is capable of both VR and AR, the latter via color passthrough.

In December, HTC confirmed that the new device will be unveiled at CES. We will know more on January 5, 2023.

Update: HTC has unveiled the Vive XR Elite. It’s a prosumer device focused on mixed reality for $1099. It will start shipping at the end of February 2023.

The first official image of HTC’s new mixed reality headset. | Image: HTC

Lynx R1

The headset, which was funded via a Kickstarter campaign, was supposed to be released as early as April 2022 and has been postponed time and again due to problems in the supply chain. The full launch is currently scheduled for February 2023.

The Lynx R1 is technically similar to the Meta Quest Pro and, like it, is designed for mixed reality applications, but will be significantly cheaper at $849. The headset relies on hand tracking. Dedicated VR controllers are planned for the third quarter of 2023.

Lynx_R1_Schwarz_Grau_Linsen

The Lynx R1 comes in two editions: one for consumers and one for businesses. The device’s unique lenses are visible in the right image. | Image: Lynx

Meta Quest 3 + another Meta device?

Mark Zuckerberg calls it “next generation of our Quest headset for consumers” and CTO Andrew Bosworth the “successor to Meta Quest 2.” Even though the executives do not mention the new headset by name, they probably mean Meta Quest 3, which is scheduled for 2023 according to Zuckerberg and Bosworth.

Since Meta usually presents new VR hardware at Meta Connect and puts it on sale shortly after, we can expect a market launch in the coming fall. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the price range will be between $300 and $500.

Zwei CAD-Baupläne zeigen Meta Quest 3 von vorne und seitlich gedreht.

CAD blueprints of a Quest 3 prototype leaked by Brad Lynch in the fall of 2022. | Image: SadlyitsBradley

In October 2022, the design of the upcoming headset or a prototype of the same is said to be leaked. According to the blueprints, the focus is on mixed reality. This is obvious, after all, the Quest Pro also focuses on XR, as it promises more benefits in everyday work. Meta hopes that developers will use the Quest Pro devkit to develop mixed reality software for Meta Quest 3.

VR leaker Bradley Lynch thinks that the product will rely on a new generation Snapdragon XR2 SoC, which could bring a big performance boost. However, this SoC has not even been announced yet.

In a blog post, Bosworth hinted that Meta could introduce another pair of tech glasses in 2023. This could mean a new version of the Ray-Ban Stories.

Pimax Portal, Pimax Crystal

Pimax Portal is a handheld console similar to Nintendo Switch or Valve’s Steam Deck that can be turned into a VR headset using an accessory. The smartphone VR, long believed to be dead, sends its regards.

Pimax Portal is funded via a Kickstarter campaign and is expected to ship as early as January 2023. Considering Pimax’s release history, one should be skeptical about such promises.

Das Display der Pimax Portal kann in ein VR-Brillen-Gehäuse eingesetzt werden.

The Pimax Portal’s display is inserted into a VR headset case. | Image: Pimax

Pimax Crystal is a standalone high-end VR headset with high-resolution displays, eye and face tracking, QLED displays, a display port connector, a removable battery at the back of the head, and optional lens pairs. The targeted price is currently around $1,599 and is thus aimed at enthusiasts.

Somnium VR 1

At CES 2023, the social VR startup Somnium Space wants to present a PC VR headset for the highest demands.

It is supposedly modular, offers a high-quality passthrough mode and open-source features. Users can download and print 3D designs of parts and order electronic components, sensors and lenses directly from the manufacturer.

A working devkit is presented at CES 2023, which already looks quite finished in first pictures. The device is developed together with the Czech manufacturer VRgineers, which specializes in high-end devices for enterprise customers.

Sony Playstation VR 2

The second generation of Playstation VR is technically up-to-date, reduces cabling to a minimum, and comes with dedicated VR controllers. The biggest shortcomings of Sony’s first VR system have thus been eliminated. In addition, there are advanced new features like eye tracking and head haptics.

Playstation VR 2 will be released worldwide on February 22, 2023 at a price of $550 / 600 euros. More information about the launch of the PSVR 2 can be found here.

Playstation VR 2 und Sense-Controller vor grauem Hintergrund.

Playstation VR 2 comes with eye tracking, head haptics and native VR controllers.| Image: Sony

Shiftall: MeganeX

After many revisions and a delay, the ultra-slim and super-light PC VR headset MeganeX will hit stores this spring. It’s SteamVR compatible and supports Index controllers.

The combination of HDR-enabled OLED microdisplay and Panasonic-branded pancake lenses makes for the light weight of just 320 grams (without cables). The headset’s temples can be folded in, which makes it easier to transport the device.

Image of the MeganeX and the MeganeX Business Edition. Both come with SteamVR adapters. | Bild: Shiftall

MeganeX comes in two versions. The Standard Edition is aimed at well-heeled consumers and costs $1,699 (base stations and index controllers are not included and must be purchased separately). The Business Edition adds diopter adjustment and a nose pad instead of a forehead pad for faster donning and doffing. Pricing for the Business Edition is not yet known. Both devices come with the Lighthouse adapter.

MeganeX offers a Displayport connection to the PC for native PC VR. It is established via an included converter box. MeganeX does not work as a standalone device.

Unconfirmed VR/XR headsets

Apple XR headset

Apple has been working on a technically advanced mixed reality headset for many years now, and according to sources like Apple leaker Mark Gurman and supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it will finally be unveiled in 2023.

However, sources have made similar comments before. Only Apple knows if and when the device will really be launched.

Apple does not have to hurry: Mixed reality technology is still in its infancy and is not yet a serious alternative to laptops, as Meta Quest Pro has shown. The market potential is tiny compared to Apple’s ambitions, which is why the device will probably be marketed as a devkit and will be costly. According to rumors, between $2,000 and $3,000.

Skizze eines schlanken VR-Brillenprototyps, der von Apple stammen soll und wie eine Skibrille aussieht.

A somewhat older drawing of an alleged prototype of Apple’s mixed reality headset. | Image: The Information

Pico 5

There is also already speculation about a successor to the Pico 4 with a new Snapdragon XR2 SoC. That would make sense since Meta Quest 3 is also supposed to use the new generation XR2 chip and would thus be far superior to current standalone headsets like Pico 4.

Pico 4 und Controller liegen auf einem weißen Tisch, im Hintergrund eine Graslandschaft.

The Pico 4 is one of the lightest and slimmest VR headsets, but like most current standalone headsets, it relies on the aging Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1. Pico 5 could use the next generation of this chip. | Image: Pico

Samsung “Metaverse device”

In December, a South Korean news portal reported that Samsung plans to launch a mixed reality devkit in 2023, apparently preparing for Apple’s potential market entry.

Samsung’s co-CEO Jong-hee Han previously confirmed that the company is hard at work on a “Metaverse device.”

Technical details are not known. The hardware is likely to be based on Meta Quest Pro and other mixed reality devices. Samsung invested heavily in VR four to five years ago, but has recently pulled back from this space.

Valve Deckard

Valve Index (review) is still one of the best PC VR headsets, but the screen is a bit dated and the headset is wired to the computer.

In September 2021, sources close to the company confirmed that Valve is working on a prototype codenamed Deckard. Unlike Valve’s Index, the device could be partially or completely standalone, which is in line with the trend of mobile VR game consoles in recent years.

Valve Index mit Index-Controllern und Basisstationen vor schwarzem Hintergrund

The Valve Index is already more than three years old. Is Valve bringing a new headset? | Image: Valve

Valve CEO Gabe Newell hinted in early 2022 that Valve’s next VR hardware could be an evolution of the Steam Deck towards virtual reality. Patents, code hints as well as job postings further fueled the rumors about a new VR headset from Valve.

No question: Something is in the works at Valve. The question is if and when Valve will come up with a product. There are no concrete hardware leaks like there were in the run-up to the Valve Index launch. Also, mobile chips are not yet fast enough for PC gaming on SteamVR. A release in 2023 seems unlikely, but you never know.