You may not know Pico, but this headset manufacturer has been working since 2015 in the manufacture of VR headsets under the umbrella of a Chinese giant: Bytedance. A name that may not mean much to you and yet is also that of the parent company of TikTok! So much for the presentations that will now allow you to understand where this new competitor comes from who intends to make a remarkable entry into the VR market in France.
PICO 4: a VR headset with serious advantages
A new entrant in France, but certainly not new to the world of VR, the Pico company already has some great achievements to its credit, such as the Pico Neo 3 Link, which was notably a helmet on which the manufacturer relied heavily to orient and refine its R&D. Indeed, the sales of this model were rather marginal and it was mainly intended to create poles of beta testers which allowed Chinese manufacturers to better understand the expectations of players, a fortiori in Europe.
We will think what we want of this process, but what is certain is that for Pico, the thing turned out to be profitable since he was able to direct his know-how on the essential points and thus achieve a Pico 4 really very interesting. From the choice of components, to ergonomics, including image quality, ease of use or even a considerable update of the software part with a Pico OS 5.0 which looks very promising. We also invite you to discover this Pico 4 in the video below.
In addition to the chip, the Pico 4 also benefits from 8 GB of RAM (LPDDR4x at 2133 Mhz): a classic here too. The storage capacity then varies from 128 to 256 GB depending on your budget. It is indeed necessary to count 430 euros for the 128 version and 500 euros for the 256 GB version. There is also Wi-Fi 6 (not 6E) compatible with 2.4 and 5 GHz as well as Bluetooth 5.1.
The real evolution that has the most positive impact on this helmet is the use of so-called “Pancake” lenses. Finer optics than the classic Fresnel lenses that have allowed Pico to make a fairly thin and light helmet. Note that the large battery (5300 mAh for approximately 2h30 to 3h of autonomy announced) is always integrated in the rear part of the strap and that this contributes to the good distribution of the mass.
To come back to this optical part, the choice of lenses should also help to provide better image sharpness and limit the risk of chromatic aberration, including in the corners.
And as if this improvement were not enough, the Pico 4 allows itself to do better than the Quest 2 in terms of image definition with a resolution per eye of 2160 x 2160 pixels against 1834 x 1920 pixels for the star from Meta. This is what Pico calls 4K+ since the combined definition is 43120 x 2160 pixels for this LCD technology whose refresh rate caps at 90 Hz. Another important data, the point density which is announced here at 1200 dpi this which suggests that it should be very (very?) difficult to distinguish any grid effect.
Special mention also for the adjustment of the interpupillary distance which would here be motorized and adjustable via the Pico 4 controllers. The adjustment range extends from 62 to 72 mm which leaves some doubt in our minds: around 58 mm would have been welcome. Either way, the FOV of 105 degrees should also satisfy gamers who will feel immersed in their VR adventures.
The controllers, which have also seen their design completely redesigned with a hoop crossing from top to bottom, which includes the hand, and whose ergonomics would be less problematic. In any case, it would limit the risk of knocking the levers together. The autonomy would be around 80 hours thanks to the presence of two AA batteries.
A helmet that portends great things
The video is much better than words in the description of the interface of Pico OS 5.0 but we must however address here this point which was for us one of the very good surprises of the conference given by Pico. The beta tests we conducted on the Neo 3 Link pointed to shortcomings in the current interface (ergonomics, menu logic, societal functions, etc.) which seem to have been really corrected by the Pico teams.
Finally, the integration of this 16 Mpixel color camera also opens the way to uses that look very promising when it comes to moving from VR to a form of augmented reality that is just as entertaining to use. We are really looking forward to discovering what the teams have in store for us, but we also know that Pico must count on the support of developers and publishers to expand its offer with a catalog of games and applications up to what can make us live a successful VR experience.
In this respect, moreover, if things seem to be off to a good start, it should be noted that the manufacturer has already signed an exclusivity with Ubisoft, namely the launch of Just Dance in VR in the course of 2023. on Pico 4.
Price and availability
As a reminder, the PICO 4 is offered at 429 euros in the 128 GB version and 500 euros in the 256 GB version. Pre-orders have been open since September 23. Pico mentions partners, sometimes foreign and relatively unknown in France (Bestware, VR Expert, XR Shop and System Active), but which seem to offer deliveries in France. Otherwise orders will also be open to the public in October via Amazon.
By David Nogueira