While manufacturers are inexplicably still struggling with making their headsets more comfortable to wear, the visual experiences one can have with XR (AR/MR/VR)1 headsets are absolutely amazing. I am now at my third headset generation, the Quest 3 – the Quest product line is probably the one most well-known at the moment.

The first version of the Oculus Rift (later continued as Quest by Meta/Facebook) was already a rich and fluid experience, but required a gaming PC with at least two USB3 ports and HDMI, a desktop sensor (and buying a second one of those was more or less unavoidable) for head and hand motions/gesture recognition and processing for the resulting virtual experience.

The first Quest model introduced a faster processor – mainly to support the higher resolution -, and passthrough. Passthrough is what allows the user to also see the space they’re in and enable AR/MR – fully immersive VR is fun but can easily lead to injuries or destroyed items around you 🙂 while Quest 3 came out with an even higher resolution and color passthrough (but also a terrible, totally unergonomic el cheapo headband that you need to replace with a better one if you want to use it for more than 15 minutes without pain points all over your head).

Some hand-picked high-level specs for the three Oculus/Quest-based headsets I own(ed), and the new Vision Pro:

RiftQuestQuest 3Vision Pro
Number of Apps•••••••••
Pixels per eyes
More: sharper
1080 x
1440 x
2064 x
3660 x
Standalone use
Seeing the environment
Very grainy
Eye tracking
Intro price***$$$$$$$$$$
* It looks like the Quest 3 is able to capture sharp passthrough footage in snapshots and recordings, but due to processor limitations it’s not able to actually show it that way in real time when you have the headset on – that is where the 7x$ Vision Pro clearly has the edge (although Apple also kind of cheats in a very smart way, as they use their eye tracking to only render sharply the areas you’re looking at – smart because that is actually the way eyes see the world as well)
** Better headbands can (and should) be bought separately
*** One $ symbol represents about 500 USD


As of Spring 2024, of the headsets I’m discussing here, the Quest 3 is clearly the best deal at the moment. The 128GB version is more than enough for the vast majority of users; the money saved by not going for the 512GB version is best invested in third party accessories for more comfort (buying a better headband like e.g. this one or that one is a must) and convenience.

If you just want to try out XR on a budget, a Quest 2 is my recommendation (or an older Oculus Rift or Quest, but for the former you will also need a gaming computer with a VR-ready graphics card).

Apple’s Vision Pro is the extremely expensive version 1 of the next generation with very few apps but an exciting outlook to the future of XR headsets – however, I would certainly wait for at least version 2 before considering buying it.

Some more promising headsets out there that I should mention but have not had an opportunity to try are e.g. Pico, Varjo, and the HTC VIVE – the more, the merrier; competition drives innovation.

  1. XR: Extended Reality – the umbrella term for…
    AR: Augmented Reality – Real/physical world with an overlay of digital elements
    MR: Mixed Reality – AR where physical and digital elements can interact
    VR: Virtual Reality – Fully-immersive digital environment ↩︎