Facebook’s Meta vs TikTok’s ByteDance: Who’s heading the VR race?

Pico Neo 3 Link VR Headset
Image credits: ByteDance

Meta already knows that it is losing the short-form video race with ByteDance’s TikTok, which has hoovered over a billion users. To combat this platform, Mark Zuckerberg came up with the Reels, a form of short-form video strategy on Facebook and Instagram. Now, ByteDance is in plans to enter the VR space at a time when metaverse is booming and this move will place the company in close competition with Facebook’s Quest 2 VR headset in the US.

TikTok’s parent ByteDance bets high on VR

TikTok’s parent company is assembling a team of Pico employees in the US and is focusing on content licensing, as well as, marketing its hardware to users in the US. ByteDance acquired Pico, a Chinese VR headset maker in 2021. Reportedly, ByteDance is planning to pump in a huge sum of money to develop VR-related content.

As per the reports, a significant part of the investment will be dedicated to hiring talent. Currently, Pico has over 40 job listings in Seattle, the Bay Area, and San Diego and a few of them are for Pico Studios. These vacancies range from the head of VR Game Strategy to the head of Overseas Content Ecosystem. Furthermore, Pico also plans to hire talent for various technical roles related to hardware and software development and R&D and is looking for the head of Consumer Sales in the US. This points out that ByteDance intends to make a strong presence in the region.

Pico Neo 3 Link vs Meta Quest 2

Pico is a VR headset maker based in China. It had a team in the US but it did not have much opportunity to provide its offerings to the Western world. It was focused on enterprise sales outside of China. Earlier this year, Pico announced its entry into the VR market in Europe with the Pico Neo 3 Link, its latest VR headset. This headset has similar specs as the Meta Quest 2 but it is likely to be a more affordable option.

Talking about the comparison, both the Meta Quest 2 and Pico Neo 3 Link use the same Snapdragon XR2 chip, the same screen resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels, and the same amount of RAM (6GB RAM). Even the lens separation control mechanism of these VR headsets is the same. There are four tracking cameras mounted in identical positions on both offerings. Both offerings come with standalone VR consoles and support PC-based VR with gaming PCs.

Both Pico Neo 3 Link and Meta Quest 2 controllers share many common aspects. These controllers have a thumbstick, a grip trigger, an index trigger, two buttons, and a menu button. Both have a ring with infrared LEDs under the IR transparent plastic for tracking purposes. There is support for controller-free hand tracking on the Quest 2, which sets it apart.

How are these VR headsets different?

While both VR headsets support wired PC VR, the way connection is done differs. The Quest 2’s wired PC VR support works via USB and this eliminates the problems of wireless. However, it will result in a compressed video stream as USB 3.0 has less bandwidth than display cables. Also, it can bring in new issues and not all motherboard USB controllers can tackle this use case.

In comparison, the Pico offering has wired PC VR mode, which uses DisplayPort with a 5-metre cable in the box. Similar to PC-only headsets, this delivers an uncompressed video stream sans any additional latency and USB issues.

The Pico Neo 3 Link bestows a display with a 90Hz refresh rate while the Quest 2 stands out with five choices ranging from 60Hz to 120Hz. The 60Hz refresh rate is allowed only for 360-degree video content and not for games, apps, or virtual environments. Though 120Hz is not practically achievable for most games, it offers additional responsiveness and low latency.

What’s the price difference?

The Quest 2 is available in 128GB and 256GB variants and is priced at €349 and €449. On the other hand, the Pico Neo 3 Link comes in a single variant with 256GB storage and is priced at €449, which is similar to its rival with the same storage.

While the Meta offering has a soft strap that doesn’t provide any counterbalance to the headset’s heavy front, there is an Elite Strap accessory priced at €49 or the same accessory with an additional inbuilt battery priced at €109. On the other hand, the Neo 3 Link features the elite strap and the inbuilt battery offering at the rear to provide weight balance and comfort without any additional cost.

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