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ByteDance’s new Pico headset is a Quest 2 competitor for Europe and Asia

ByteDance’s new Pico headset is a Quest 2 competitor for Europe and Asia

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The Pico 4 will cost €429 and ship in mid-October

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A woman using the Pico 4 headset and controllers.
The Pico 4 headset and controllers
Image: Pico

Pico, the Chinese startup acquired last year by TikTok parent company ByteDance, has a new virtual reality headset on the way. The Pico 4, which will sell starting at €429 (around $425) in several European and Asian countries, is described as a reasonably full-featured but affordable option for games and passive entertainment. A limited preorder opens in August, with general preorders starting in October and the device shipping on October 18th.

ByteDance teased the news of its new headset earlier this week, and the device broadly resembles earlier Pico products, with a self-contained standalone design that can also connect to a PC for high-end VR. But the Pico 4 is smaller and lighter than the Pico Neo3 Link that debuted in May, weighing 295 grams without the strap and 586 grams with it. It uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor but a beefed-up 8GB of memory and a higher-resolution display with 2,160 x 2,160 pixels per eye. It also comes in two possible storage sizes instead of one: a 128GB model for €429 and a 256GB model for €499 (about $492). There’s a battery that offers three hours of use and — as with the previous Pico headset — is built into the headset’s back strap to balance it.

A close-up of the Pico 4 headset
The Pico 4 headset
Image: Pico

While some Pico headsets have shipped in the US, that’s not on the public roadmap for the Pico 4 yet. It will launch in Japan, Korea, and 13 European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. (Prior to its general preorder and retail release, Pico Neo3 Link beta program members will get an advance preorder period starting on September 23rd in these countries.) The headset will be officially announced for the Chinese market on September 27th, and it will roll out in Singapore and Malaysia later this year. That said, the headset has appeared in FCC regulatory filings, so a US release seems highly plausible.

Leland Hedges, general manager for Pico EMEA, describes the Pico 4 as a “first VR headset” for a range of new adopters, geared toward a combination of gaming, fitness (including a fitness tracking system also available on the Neo3 Link), and video. It works with SteamVR on PC and a dedicated Pico app store, and Pico is also launching a social environment called “Pico Worlds” in 2023. Following the acquisition, there’s also some limited integration with TikTok: you can optionally connect your TikTok account with the Pico video app to watch short-form videos in the headset.

A Pico 4 controller
A Pico 4 controller
Image: Pico

If this all sounds familiar, it should: ByteDance is implicitly positioning the Pico 4 as an answer to Meta’s entry-level Quest 2. As you can see with the comparison here, the Pico Neo 3 Link was already in the same rough specs ballpark as the Quest 2, and the Pico 4 costs about the same as a Quest 2 after a Meta price rise in July. Although Pico’s been making standalone headsets longer than Meta, updates like a fitness center and Pico Worlds (a clear counterpart to Meta’s Horizon) are more recent additions that mirror Quest features. Like the Quest 2, the Pico 4 will offer hand tracking, following an update shortly after release. The Pico 4 is also being announced a few weeks ahead of Meta’s Connect event, where Meta is expected to release its new Project Cambria headset.

The vanilla Pico 4 isn’t in the same league as Cambria, which has advanced features, including internal cameras for eye tracking. “We think for the type of consumer market that we are targeting today — which is this first-time user who’s really worried about ease of use and accessibility and price — and to keep it simple for our developer community, many of whom are going to be working with Pico devices for the first time, we’re going for the Pico 4 as our main consumer product,” says Hedges.

But ByteDance will be later releasing a more expensive version of the headset that includes eye-tracking cameras, known as the Pico 4 Pro in China and the Pico 4 Enterprise in other markets. That’s similar to its previous headsets, which have offered the feature as an additional upgrade. And it suggests Pico is moving in the same direction as Meta — even if it hasn’t cracked the global market in the same way yet.

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