Hello, fellow VR enthusiasts! It’s time for another hardware comparison. This time, we’ll be looking at the new headset from Pico Interactive and comparing it to the tried-and-true Quest 2. We’ll see how the Pico 4 stacks up and if it can present a serious challenge to Meta’s reign in the space.

The Pico 4 was released in October 2022 and unlike previous headsets from Pico Interactive, this one’s marketed as a mass-consumer device. It targets a similar audience as Quest 2 and emphasizes gaming, entertainment and fitness.

Both devices are also in a very similar price range. The base Quest 2 model retails for €449 / £399, while the Pico 4 is priced at €429 / £379. This shows Pico Interactive’s confidence, but also means that their product will face extensive scrutiny and numerous comparisons with the Quest 2. There are no “innovator” or “prosumer” labels here. Users interested in this headset will expect the Pico 4 to be the real deal, just as good if not better than the Quest 2.

So, which one is better? After spending over a month with the Pico 4, I feel qualified to answer this question.

Judging a book by its cover

If we were to decide by looks alone, this would be a pretty one-sided contest. By now, most consumers have become accustomed to what a VR headset looks like and the Pico 4 iterates on that. The design feels familiar yet sleek, the big glossy front looks modern without being overly futuristic. When picked up, the headset’s slim form factor is also highlighted. Overall, it does a great job of making it clear that the Quest 2 is already two years old, making the Pico 4 feel like an upgrade, even before opening the box.

Purchasing a headset based solely on its looks wouldn’t be the smartest move. After all, virtual reality is about the realms inside. That said, the Quest 2, with its classic, ovoid design, has a bit of charm of its own. It’s instantly recognizable and familiar even to laypeople. Moreover, aesthetics are always subjective. Despite the general praise for the Pico 4’s design, there might be those who think the Quest 2 looks better, and that opinion would be just as valid.

Comfort and ergonomics

By default, the Quest 2 comes with a soft strap that leaves a lot to be desired. Due to the battery being placed in the front, this can lead to a lot of pressure being put on the face and forehand, leaving many with no other option but to look for enhancements. Fortunately, being a popular device, the Quest 2 has amassed a variety of third-party accessories and comfort modifications. There’s a broad selection of straps, foams and facial interfaces, as well as the official “Elite Strap” from Meta.

Obviously accessories cost money. This gives Pico 4 an advantage in terms of comfort to price ratio. You can say Pico 4 comes with its own Elite Strap included. The design is rigid with the battery placed at the back, where it doubles as a cushion. This helps offload pressure from the front and makes the headset feel balanced and comfortable. Putting on the Pico 4 is quick and seamless and the knob at the back ensures the headset stays tight and in one place. Back-knobs and dials are becoming an industry standard and it’s nice to see that the Pico 4 also has one.

The Pico 4 supports granular IPD adjustment with a range between 62mm and 72mm. What’s interesting though is that IDP can be adjusted from within the headset with a motor. It’s a feature not present even on the Quest Pro and is more often associated with the likes of super high end Varjo headsets.

Changing the interpupillary distance from inside the headset ensures IDP can be set with clear precision and that it will remain fixed without accidentally changing. It’s a nifty feature that’s definitely useful, even if it feels a bit misspent and overly premium for a consumer device. The Oculus Quest 2 by comparison relies on three fixed options: 58mm, 63mm and 68mm. How important this is will vary from person to person. For most people, the IPD approximations available on the Quest are good enough, but for others, even a 0.5mm mismatch can lead to eyestrain.

The Pico 4 headset also scores extra points for its magnetic face cushion, which allows the front padding to be swapped without hassle. Just like the motorized IPD adjustments, it’s a convenience you might rarely need, but having the facial interface snap instantly into place feels undeniably satisfying. Third-party manufacturers have already started offering magnetic frames, gaskets and prescription lenses for the Pico 4.

Overall, the Pico 4 offers a noticeably higher degree of comfort compared to the soft-strapped version of the Quest 2 and allows for extended periods of use without fatigue. Some of it is due to weight distribution, slim visor, better ergonomics, fine-tuned IPD range and some of it due to optics (more on that later). Despite all this, after using the Pico 4 continuously for more than six to eight hours, it did start to pinch my nose — an issue not observed with the Quest 2. The default nose-flaps were ineffective, and after 30 more minutes, I had to take a break as it became too painful to continue.

Even with the nose-pinching, the Pico 4 still fared much better than the Quest 2 when it comes to ultra-prolonged use. From my own experience, four to five hours on the Quest 2 are enough to cause eye strain and make the headset feel uncomfortable. With the Pico 4, all my breaks were voluntary, at least up until my nose bridge became swollen and red. Staying in virtual reality for eight hours might seem like an exceptional scenario, but with VR headsets being increasingly marketed as work and productivity devices, it doesn’t seem all that outlandish.

It’s important to note that the Pico 4 is only two months old, so its durability remains to be seen. The Meta Quest 2 stood the test of time and the fact that all its critical components are housed in the front is, in this case, is not a bug, but a feature. There have been reports of the Meta Elite Strap breaking and snapping, but in the case of the Quest 2, the strap is just an accessory. With the Pico 4, it’s a vital component that connects the headset to the battery in the back. Breaking the Pico 4 strap would be a much bigger headache.

It’s also nice to have a choice with the Quest 2. Soft straps might not be the most comfortable, but they’re great for portability, making the Quest 2 a compact headset to travel with. Many users also find rigid straps less comfortable when trying to lean or lay down. Pico’s rigid strap cannot be detached and the headset’s inflexible design puts a limit on how creative third-party solutions can get. The future lies most likely with modular designs that allow for completely removing the rear portion of the headset the way the Vive Elite XR does it — but that’s a topic for another time.

Controllers and Hand Tracking

Let’s start by clarifying that hand tracking on the Pico 4, despite promises, is currently non-existent. Technically it is possible to enable it via developer mode, but there’s no support for it, not even in the home menu. Of course, the Quest 2 allows for hand tracking, which can be quite capable and only gets better with each firmware update.

As for the controllers, both companies employ similar technology that uses infrared tracking to map their locations. The Pico 4 has an additional system button on the right controller intended to make screenshotting and video recording faster, but in practice, it’s unused most of the time. It also has system buttons on both controllers, which benefits left-handed users. Other than that, the button layout is nearly identical, which is good news. What’s different is the shape and arrangement of the tracking emitters. On the Meta Quest 2, they are in the form of a ring, while on the Pico 4, they are oblique, resembling some sort of cutlass handle. This, in theory, allows users to perform a wider range of motions on the Pico without risking bumping controllers into each other.

The controllers require two AA batteries instead of one. The battery ejection mechanism is a nice touch, making swapping batteries easy, as this process can be a bit cumbersome on the Quest. Batteries drain slowly, meaning it will take some time before replacement is necessary. Still, the Quest 2 clearly leads in this aspect, as users have reported being able to play for as long as months on a single battery charge. Both controllers feature capacitive buttons and triggers, and both have a similar degree of haptic feedback.

The battery ejection mechanism is a nice touch

Overall, the Pico 4 controllers do their job well. They follow a proven script with a bit of a twist. The bottom is slightly textured, giving users a good grip. The controllers feel firm in hand, comfortable to use for longer periods and lightweight.

It’s a big improvement over the Pico 3 Neo, but there’s no denying that the Quest 2 Touch controllers are still appreciably better. There, the plastic looks high quality with a slippery white finish around the triggers and black matte around the buttons. Everything feels reactive and bouncy like we expect from the best gaming pads. It’s a very high bar.

Optics and Image Clarity

On paper, the Pico 4 is a step up in almost every category except for refresh rate. Obviously, dry specifications don’t tell the whole story, but considering how similarly priced both headsets are, we can safely say that with the Pico 4, we are getting a more powerful device.

The most talked about improvement is usually the resolution. The Pico 4 enjoys a combined resolution of 2160 x 2160 and to make this possible, it’s been fitted with two LCD panels instead of one. Hence it also supports motorized IPD adjustment. In theory, that’s a ~33 per cent increase over the Quest 2, made even bigger by the fact the Quest 2 uses only one screen, so a big portion of the panel remains invisible, with part of the pixels lost to the space between the lenses.

In reality, it can be difficult to quantify the actual extent of improvement. There’s no noticeable screen door effect on the Pico 4, but apart from that, it’s hard to notice the bump in resolution, at least in the way you would notice it on a computer screen, but of course, every increase in the number of pixels is welcome.

Another big difference is the lens type. The Meta Quest 2 relies on Fresnel lenses while the Pico 4 has already made a switch to pancake lenses. Without getting into the nitty-gritty, pancake lenses promise to reduce artifacts caused by Fresnels, while also being much smaller in size and in turn allowing for lighter headsets. And indeed, the Pico 4 seems devoid of any chromatic aberration, pupil swim or so-called ‘god rays’ glare. There is, however, a different artifact in place of god rays, which manifests itself in similar circumstances. But instead of glare, it looks more like a smudge.

My first instinct was to wipe the lenses as it looked quite distracting, hence it’s already sometimes referred to as the ‘dirty lens’ effect. It’s caused by the light bouncing between the lens layers. After realizing it’s not a physical smudge, but rather a high contrast visual artifact, I quickly stopped noticing but it’s worth noting that the Pico 4 lenses are not completely artifact-free.

One of the most pleasant surprises when it comes to the Pico 4’s optics is its large sweet spot. A narrow sweet spot can be a real nuisance as it forces users to keep their pupils aligned with optical centre of the lenses or everything loses sharpness, but in the case of the Pico 4, clarity always remained impressive regardless of how randomly I decided to put the headset on. It’s practically a non-issue on the Pico 4. The Quest 2 has a decent sweet spot as well — just not as big. It’s possible to misalign the Quest 2, especially when using the soft strap.

According to HMD Geometry Database, the Pico 4 has a very good binocular overlap, meaning almost the entire field of view is displayed with parallax and in full three dimensions.

When it comes to the field of view, the Pico 4 holds a modest advantage over the Quest 2. Here are the measurements according to Sebastian Ang (MRTV):

Bigger FOV means bigger immersion, but users should not go in expecting to see a major boost. Horizontally, there’s an 8-degree difference, and vertically, there’s a 4-degree difference.

Overall, all these improvements add up quickly, and when looking at the optics as a whole, it’s obvious that the Pico 4 offers a noticeably better experience. On their own, each parameter is only slightly better: slightly higher resolution, a slightly bigger sweet spot and a slightly wider FOV. Combined, however, they do offer a leap. It’s easier to spend longer periods inside virtual worlds when using the Pico 4, and my eyes felt less fatigued as a result. This, in turn, reduces friction, and with the Pico 4, I found myself spontaneously hopping into virtual reality more often.


An increase in image fidelity is not just tied to optics. Nothing illustrates it better than this breakdown made by Red Matter 2 developer Vertical Robot. It highlights some of the biggest differences between the Quest 2 and the Pico 4 versions of their game.

Red Matter 2 – Foveated Rendering, Subsampling, Anti-aliasing, Eye Buffer, Clock speed — all play role

Foveated Rendering, Subsampling, Anti-aliasing, Eye Buffer, and Clock speed — all play role

Vertical Robot developers used all sorts of tricks to maximize the eye buffer resolution. The end result is significantly improved graphical fidelity that’s a combination of many factors, both hardware and software.

The Quest 2 and Pico 4 are powered by the same Snapdragon XR2 chipset, but use it to different extents. After the recent firmware upgrade, the Quest 2 is running the XR2 chipset at 525Hz while the Pico 4 can run the clock at 587hz.

This extra horsepower comes at the cost of battery life and more heat. As a result, a fully charged Pico 4 will only last marginally longer despite having a much larger battery. According to LauboxVR, Quest 2 users can enjoy their headset an average of 109 minutes, while Pico 4 offers around 117 minutes of usage. The Pico 4 also needs heavier airflow to ensure proper heat dissipation. From time to time, it’s possible to feel a slight breeze hit your nose. The default nose flaps seem to alleviate this sensation. Overall, it’s something I quickly stopped noticing, but, by comparison, the Quest 2 is completely still and silent.

The Meta Quest 2 holds a slight advantage when it comes to the maximum refresh rate, which can go up to 120Hz. A higher refresh rate reduces any chance of flicker and there are a good amount of apps and games on the Quest 2 that support this mode. Meanwhile, the Pico 4 only supports up to 90Hz.

Cameras: Positional Tracking and Pass-through mode

Both headsets make use of the inside-out tracking system that uses built-in cameras and machine learning to make estimates about how the user moves through space. Hardware-wise, the Pico 4 has one additional camera compared to Quest 2. This extra camera is placed in the middle and supports 16 megapixels and full RGB, which is why the Pico 4 has high-quality color passthrough.

Tracking has always been Meta’s strong point, but Pico’s tracking is just as good if not sometimes better. For example, the Pico 4 is not afraid of the dark and will work even in dimly lit rooms. I even managed to get the tracking to work at night with nothing but streetlights. The Quest 2 tracking is also quite forgiving but it will not work in truly sub-optimal conditions. I had situations where I had to stop demoing the Quest at a pub or outdoors because of bad tracking, so it’s pretty impressive to see Pico 4 be able to track in similarly challenging situations.

It’s also possible for the Quest 2 to randomly drop tracking for reasons that are not always immediately clear. It’s a rare situation, but throughout the years it did happen to me on various units. After spending enough time with the Quest 2, there will come a time where, in the middle of an intense action game, you will suddenly get kicked back to the tracking setup.

Pico’s tracking has so far performed without any hiccups. Of course, I haven’t used it nearly as much, so this observation comes with a caveat but the early signs are very positive. It seems their proprietary tracking system, SLAM, is delivering on its promise.

It’s possible to disable positional tracking on the Pico 4 and still force the headset to load a game or app in 3-dof. Controllers always remain tracked in space, even in total darkness, so some games will remain playable despite not being designed for three degrees of freedom. The maximum guardian size on the Pico 4 is 10 x 10 meters (8 x 8 meters on Quest 2).

Setup, Accounts, Privacy

Both setup processes and, generally the entire UI, are very similar on both devices. It looks like Pico Interactive decided to draw heavily from the work already pioneered by Oculus and Meta, so do not expect any originality. It’s basically a copy of what already works. Users are asked to pair their companion app, pair the controllers, watch a couple of introductory videos and then set up the guardian boundary.

With the Quest 2, users must set up a Meta account. In the case of Pico, they must create a Pico login. Seems similar, but there are some notable differences. A while back, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta. I covered this transition extensively, but to make the long story short, starting the 1st of January 2022, users no longer have to use Facebook. Instead, they can set up a Meta account. This represents a non-trivial improvement but let’s make no mistake — a Meta Account is still a pretty heavy beast.

To register for a Meta Account, users will have to enter their name, email address, phone number, payment information and date of birth. A Meta Horizon profile is obligatory and users can have only one Meta Horizon profile per Meta ID. There’s a lot of fine print attached and users can expect to have their data collected through Meta Accounts Center.

Accounts on the Pico 4 are more nominal, but there is a catch. It’s no secret that Pico Interactive is a subsidiary of Bytedance — the company behind the popular social app TikTok, which is known for its highly invasive and data-driven terms and conditions. Therefore, any attempt by Pico Interactive to suggest they care about privacy rightfully invites skepticism and ridicule among internet users.

Pico 4 says their keyboard “Does not involve personal information collection,” but internet users seem amused at the prospect of Bytedance being privacy-focused.

Currently, the Pico 4 does not require any real user data, accounts can be set up with just an email address. It doesn’t matter what users call themselves, whether they use throwaway email addresses or not, accounts are mostly there to facilitate access to app libraries. That’s how it is for now. It’s completely reasonable to assume Pico Interactive will remain hesitant to do anything controversial as long as its user base is still growing but might become more invasive if its dominance grows.

For now, Pico accounts remain simple.

The Pico 4 does not offer any app-sharing features, family sharing or multiple accounts. For families that want to each have their own avatars, names and independently saved progress in games, this is bad news as Quest 2 supports multi-accounts, admin accounts and app sharing. It is, however, possible to use a single Pico Account on more than one device (up to three max), which is something Meta Accounts do not support.

App Library and Content

Content remains the Quest 2’s strongest point. The library of games and apps available to users is vast and mostly high quality due to the curation process. It includes many first-party titles and titles funded or acquired by Meta. For instance, Meta owns Beat Games, the studio behind the hugely popular Beat Saber.

All of the well-known standalone games have a presence on the Meta store, which is no surprise given it was Oculus Go and then Oculus Quest that kickstarted the market for standalone VR. For quite a long time, there were no other viable standalone ecosystems and now Meta is reaping the rewards of having accumulated enormous amounts of content. And it’s not just games, but also social VR applications, creativity tools and media applications. There’s a lot of high-quality award-winning content available through Meta Quest TV, both curated and in-house. The list just goes on and on.

Meta has also released their secondary non-curated app store for Quest 2 called the “App Lab”. It’s a place for fun, experimentation, demos and generally more random content. Some of the games available on the App Lab became extremely successful. The number of App Lab titles has already surpassed 1,500. Finally, there’s also Sidequest, a separate discovery platform with sideloadable content, which Meta also endorses. It features VR mods of popular games and some other even more experimental titles.

The Pico 4 ecosystem, on the other hand, has just launched. And to say they are playing catch-up would be an understatement. A lot of popular applications like YouTube VR or VRChat are missing. Media content feels pretty lackluster and uninspiring. There’s no App Lab equivalent. Instead, the Pico 4 allows for less curated content, making available titles hit-and-miss. There’s no refund option, so the most reasonable option for players is to stick with Quest 2 ports, which in some cases (like the aforementioned Red Matter 2) are superior to their counterparts, but often feel rushed and done without effort.

According to Meta’s keynote, there are already 33 apps that have earned over $10 million in revenue on Quest and Quest 2. One of the biggest releases last year, Bonelab, earned its first million in less than 60 minutes. These numbers show the strength of Meta’s Quest ecosystem and why developers might be enticed to give Quest full priority and only consider the Pico 4 as an afterthought.

Of course, there are good games and apps available on the Pico 4. Pico Interactive keeps investing substantial amounts to bring developers on board and its store appears to be maturing at a good pace. There’s a whole section of acclaimed interactive content, which is paid on Quest but free on Pico 4. This obviously did not happen without some sort of compensation. Pico Interactive also managed to enlist a well-known virtual concert platform, WaveXR, and will likely continue to put money into their ecosystem despite facing some pretty intimidating competition from Meta’s storefront.

The verdict

So, after all is said and done, which headset is better, the Pico 4 or Quest 2?

The answer is: Pico 4 without doubt. It’s not only a worthy challenger, it actually dominates in every key area. It’s more powerful, has better optics and a higher resolution. It’s more ergonomic, more lightweight and all of that at the same price point as the Quest 2. From a hardware perspective, it’s a no-contest pick.

However, when it comes to software and content, the Pico 4 cannot come close to the breadth of Meta’s ecosystem, and it’s not certain if it ever will. While Pico Interactive plays catch-up, Meta will continue to grow their own offerings, making it impossible for any competitor to fully close the gap. Games like Beat Saber that are owned by Meta might never be available on the Pico. As a result, the Pico 4 might be a better headset, but as a gift, the Quest 2 still seems like a better choice.

So who might benefit from purchasing the Pico 4 the most?

  • PCVR enthusiasts who are interested in using the Pico primarily as a hybrid headset for wireless streaming. There’s a built-in streaming solution available on the Pico 4 as well as the widely acclaimed Virtual Desktop by Guy Godin.
  • VR users who value hardware improvements and are willing to overlook skimpy software propositions or enthusiasts who want to foster competition and are interested in establishing a separate app library on a rival ecosystem.
  • Users who, for whatever reason, have a problem with Meta but not with Bytedance.

Have a great day and keep on rocking in the VR world!