Pico Neo 3 Link: Quest 2 challenger launches in Europe
Update May 24, 2022:
Pico starts selling the Neo 3 Link in Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands for 449 Euros. The market launch in the UK follows in June for £399. Pico is limiting sales to one VR headset per person during the beta testing phase. Distribution partners in Europe are Bestware (Germany), VR Expert (Germany, France, Netherlands), Matts Digital (France), XR Shop (Spain) and SystemActive (UK).
At launch, Pico says more than 100 VR games and more than 50 other apps will be available in the Pico Store. The Pico Store is only accessible via the headset during the beta phase. In addition, Pico says that more than 4000 SteamVR games are compatible via PC streaming. The Pico Link software supports a display port or Wi-Fi 6 connection. Pico promises regular software updates.
Article dated April 13, 2022:
Pico Interactive launches the VR headset Pico Neo 3 Pro in a beta version for the B2C market. How much does the headset cost and what is new?
Pico launched its new VR headset Pico Neo 3 Pro in October 2021. In many respects, it drew level with the Quest 2 from market leader Meta and also looks quite similar to it. However, I still found various bugs and technical shortcomings in my review. The comfort also leaves something to be desired. Hand tracking has just been announced for the Pico Neo 3 Pro.
So far, the Neo 3 Pro was only available as B2B headset in a corporate context. Now the manufacturer Pico Interactive, which has meanwhile been bought by the Chinese TikTok group Bytedance, is bringing the Neo 3 Pro back to the market as Neo 3 Link for home users as well.
Different sticker and beta program
By opening its offer to everyone, Pico says it is targeting VR enthusiasts and gamers. To this end, the Pico Store will be expanded and made available to Neo 3 Link buyers as part of a beta program.
Pico promises access to most VR games available on Steam, as well as over 200 VR apps in its own store. These include Superhot VR, Puzzling Places, After the Fall, Walkabout Mini Golf, Eleven Table Tennis, and Demeo.
Pico's marketing describes the move as follows: "We are democratizing VR across Europe with unique entertainment offerings. Pico aims to be an open and exciting platform for creators, developers and VR fans to explore and have fun in VR. If you're a true VR fan and want to own a piece of VR history, join the Pico Beta program."
Pico Neo 3 Link: Broadening the Target Audience
The bottom line is that there is nothing new in the box. Pico Neo 3 Link is the same VR headset as the Pico Neo 3 Pro.
The package includes the namesake DP-Link cable, which enables the wired connection to the computer (very similar to Meta/Oculus Link) and thus SteamVR streaming. In my test, I could not test the performance with the cable, but I could test Pico's own version of Wi-Fi streaming via Wi-Fi 6, which worked well, but did not come close to Meta's Air Link.
Pico hopes to get enough feedback and data through the beta phase to improve the store and streaming technology.
Low-cost competition, but no new VR headset
Competition is good for business, and the VR industry could use a breath of fresh air. For the price of 449 Euros, the Pico Neo 3 Link is definitely competitive with the Quest 2 - after all, the link cable is already included, which still has to be purchased for the Quest (2).
Pico is launching the Neo 3 Link package in Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands first. Other European markets are to be gradually opened up. The offer is limited to 20,000 packages, and only one can be ordered per person. The pre-order period runs from April 15 to May 23, 2022.
However, it is "only" a relaunch for the home user market. The hardware isn't new, the software even less so. A separate account is required to use the Pico Store. A connection to TikTok is not planned.
Those who have been waiting for a Quest alternative without Facebook login (the latter is to be dropped this year) will find a suitable candidate here, if the drawbacks don't bother you.
Pico Interactive does not currently use social media connections, although Bytedance will be interested in collecting VR data, as will Meta. The bottom line is that you decide whether you'd rather give your data to a Chinese or US company.