ASUS ExpertBook B9

Last year, I bought the Oculus Quest 2 to try out VR. I didn’t like the experience. Then earlier this year, The word “Meta” and “metaverse” had been so overused no thanks to Mark Zuckerberg. I eventually sold that Quest 2 as it left a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to VR.

Of course, Meta is not the only player in the VR industry – and what we have today is the PICO 4 VR headset. I’ve been using this for so long that I nearly forgot to make a video about it because I love this headset so much.

Acer Nitro 5

Let me tell you about how I manage to love VR once again because of the PICO 4.

Let’s speedrun through the unboxing first. The PICO 4 comes with a set of standard stuff that we expect – the headset itself, the two controllers, straps for each controller to tie it to our hands, a charger, cable, and also two more accessories that you can choose to use or not – and those are the spacer and also the nose piece. We’ll get more into these later.

PICO 4 VR headest

After you dig out everything, I advise you not to throw away the box because I highly suggest reusing the box as a storage box. It can provide proper protection for your VR headset and it protects them from scratching the lens and prevent any sort of light – especially sunlight – from entering the lens.

Okay, now, we’ll talk about the headset. I’ll have to say, this headset is sleek and rather lightweight yet comfortable to wear. There is soft padding around the perimeter of the eyes which can be taken out and washed, and the back has a large piece of slightly harder cushion wrapped in PU leather.

PICO 4 VR headest

As for how you should wear the headset is to rotate the strap upwards first, then put the headset to your eyes and make sure you are able to see properly, then pull the strap down and start turning the knob until it sits comfortably on your head. As for the top strap, it acts as a counterbalance so make sure it is snug. Make sure nothing is overtightened or you will have a bad time.

PICO 4 VR headest

Back to the spacer piece. This is for those who are wearing prescription glasses and want to use the VR headset too. However, I adjust you be careful since the frame of your glasses might scratch the VR lens even with the spacer installed.

Then, the nose piece. I am really glad that PICO included this inside the box because if you’re like me, wearing a VR headset means there will be light leaking up to the lens. So, this nose piece blocks that light to provide a better experience.

PICO 4 VR headest

What I really don’t like is the black super glossy plastic at the front. This will definitely scratch easily if you’re not careful – but you can just reuse the protective sticker from the factory to protect it.

PICO 4 VR headest

The bottom of the headset has two microphones and one vent that goes all the way through to the top. Obviously, this is for cooling and there is actually a fan inside to keep air circulating.

As for the remote control, it is fairly standard in terms of design. It feels rather ergonomic and all A/B/X/Y buttons and the thumbsticks are able to detect my fingers when I rest on top of them.

PICO 4 VR headest

Each controller also has another colored circle button which brings up the quick settings overlay. There is a hidden feature that we’ll talk about later.

PICO 4 VR headest

Each controller also takes in double AA batteries, and luckily – they are included in the box so we can get started when we unbox the VR headset. I do advise you to use rechargeable batteries like IKEA’s LADDA since those throwaway alkaline-based batteries have a high chance of leakage which will permanently damage your controller.

Okay, enough about the hardware. Let’s boot up the headset. You’ll have to go through the setup process which I did not record – and once you got into the home screen, please update your firmware as PICO added a lot of features.

PICO 4 VR headest

The interface of the PICO 4 is actually very familiar if you’ve played around with the Quest 2 before. Most of the things work the same way – and yes, the PICO 4 is indeed using a modified version of Android as it uses APK files too.

PICO 4 VR headest

Since we’re here, we might as well talk about the settings available. There are a lot of things that we can change. The most important one is the IPD – also known as the interpupillary distance. Configure the IPD value until the green circles look the clearest for you. I measured my IPD at the optometry to be 69mm but I am using the PICO 4 with the IPD value of 66.5mm instead. Oh yeah – the PICO 4 can adjust 0.5mm which I think is a huge improvement over the Quest 2.

PICO 4 VR headest

We can also increase the refresh rate to its maximum 90Hz and to configure its power management. If we do change the power management to “power saving”, it says the display quality will be lowered. I think that they’re just lowering the polygon count to save on processing – hence increasing the battery life.

PICO 4 VR headest

Then, remember to redeem your free games. Every purchase of the PICO 4 from now until January 2023 are eligible to get 4 free games.

PICO 4 VR headest

I have not played Down The Rabbit Hole yet and from the trailer, it seems to be a point-and-click adventure game that is based on the classic Alice in Wonderland story but with a lot of twists.

I also haven’t played OhShape. From the thumbnail alone, it kinda already told us what the game is supposed to be – but surprisingly, it also has some elements of Beat Saber too.

Then, there’s All-in-One Sports VR. There are a lot of games that you can play with your friend. I am using the singular word here – “friend” – because it doesn’t support multiplayer. There is bowling, archery, boxing, billiard, darts, golf, and even badminton. Surprisingly, some of these sports were added via an update – and I think they’ll add more as time goes by.

PICO 4 VR headest
After The Fall is fun!

Then, there is After The Fall. Ooooo this is kinda like Left 4 Dead but VR and I played with Rextech and Mr John here – wow, this game can be challenging at times. It’s a very well-made zombie shooter game and I captured a lot of random footages and I’m just going to show it on the screen here. While I do like the game, the main story campaign is divided into a few short missions and that’s it. We’ll have to play other modes or replay those short missions with higher difficulty level.

Of course, the PICO 4 also has its own app store. I can see that day by day, the app library is growing quickly. There are many apps and games that are available on other platforms that are just ported over to the PICO store.

Here’s a full list of them.

PICO 4 VR headest

I was enticed by one of the app called “VirtualSpeech” which literally is a public speaking simulator. This kinda opened my eyes to the possibility of using VR as some sort of “training tool”. One notable omission though, is Beat Saber. It’s not on the PICO Store, but we do have Virtual Desktop here.

PICO 4 VR headest

But what if you want to play some PCVR games like Half-Life Alyx? Well, you can. Introducing, the PICO Link app. Head into PICO’s website and download this tool, then install it on your PC. You’ll also need to have SteamVR installed so that’ll take some time to download as the file size is kinda huge.

PICO 4 VR headset

After that, launch the PICO Link app and the setup will ask if you want to connect via a cable or through WiFi. If you select WiFi, then make sure both your PC and the PICO 4 are connected to the same network. Then, open the “streaming assistant” app in the PICO 4 and click connect – then it’ll connect.

Launch your games and you can start playing your PCVR games. But, you might want to do some settings first – but those are bound to SteamVR so I’m not going to talk about them here.

PICO 4 VR headset

Of course, all PCVR games work as expected. I had a great time playing Job Simulator and also Half Life Alyx – so I’m happy with it.

I do have a few more tips and tricks for you. On the right controller, there is a camera button that we can press once to take a screenshot, and we can also hold the button to start screen recording. Holding down the button again will end the screen recording.

PICO 4 VR headset

Then, the right controller’s purple circle button. If you press once, then the UI overlay will come out – but you can hold on the button to recenter your view. That is extremely handy and PICO never told us about this feature.

PICO 4 VR headset

If you want to stream your VR games, then you can use the casting feature on the PICO 4. It gives you a link, so just enter it into OBS and you can start streaming.

PICO 4 VR headset
And that’s how OBS captured everything I see on the PICO 4.

As for the battery life though, the PICO 4 won’t last very long. We played After The Dark for about 1.5 hours before the headset starts complaining about low battery. Same goes for wireless PCVR streaming too, by the way – about 1.5 hours and that’s it.

PICO 4 VR headset

The charging speed of the PICO 4 is maxed out at 18W which means it’ll take quite some time before we can use the headset again. I guess that’s also a good thing since I can take a rest and prevent myself from nausea.

To get the PICO 4 or the Quest 2?

So if I have managed to convince you to consider the PICO 4 instead of the Oculus Quest 2 – or now knowned as the Meta Quest 2 – then you need to take note of these differences:

  1. The aforementioned IPD adjustment – The PICO 4 has a super wide range of adjustment and you can fine-tune down to 0.5mm. The Quest 2 can only select 3 different values and nothing else.
  2. The included strap. When I got the Quest 2 last year, I immediately hated the original strap. It sucks so bad, and I immediately ordered the BoboVR M2 strap and that improved the comfort a lot more but the two antenna thing at the top managed to press on my head so hard that it stopped my blood flow.
    PICO 4 VR headsetAs for the PICO 4 though, the included strap is very similar but better than the Quest 2’s Elite Strap – but this built-in strap has a speaker and volume buttons, we cannot take it apart to change to another strap. The Quest 2 does have a set of stereo speakers but it’s not built into the strap.
  3. Audio jack. The Quest 2 has an audio jack so you can connect an earphone and get better audio quality. The PICO 4 does not have any audio jack so you’re completely stuck with the built-in speakers. We can connect it to some other Bluetooth earphones or headphones but I really don’t want to deal with the audio delay.
  4. App store. Both these VR headsets have their own app stores. As what we mentioned earlier, the PICO 4’s app store is currently still limited in comparison, but it’s definitely growing day by day. That’s kinda expected since the PICO 4’s ecosystem is still very new when compared to the Quest 2.
  5. Maximum refresh rate. The PICO 4 goes up to only 90Hz whereby the Quest 2 goes up to 120Hz. I know a lot of people say a higher refresh rate will create a better VR experience but in this case, having better comfort and proper IPD selection is much more important.

PICO 4 VR headset

And with all of those said, I will pick the PICO 4 over the Quest 2 without any questions asked. The comfort of the PICO 4 is just so much better than the Quest 2 – particularly thanks to the IPD adjustment and the included strap. PCVR games works without any issues since they’re all using SteamVR framework anyway.

Price

And yet, the PICO 4 is officially available in Malaysia starting at the price of RM1,699 for the 128GB storage version. With local warranty. It is actually cheaper than the Quest 2, which costs RM1,849 for the 128GB storage version. Let’s not forget that the Quest 2’s original strap sucks and you might also need that nose piece to prevent light from entering from below and you’ll have to spend more money and time to buy those accessories.

PICO 4 VR headset

Bah, I’ll just pick the PICO 4. It’s not perfect – but it’s good enough to provide a fantastic user experience out of the box.

Now, back to gaming.

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