Virtual reality and virtual reality headsets have been around for roughly a decade now, and they have granted many people their dreams of actually living out their fantasies of stepping into a new world, instead of experiencing it vicariously through a named character. Many people have been wanting to experience this adventure for some time now, but, one way or another, they were deterred from dipping their toes into this new experience. However, 2023 is a big year for VR headsets, with many already released and many more to come later in the year.
If you’re hesitant about spending thousands of Ringgit on something you might not even be into, then this article might be for you. Here’s a review of the latest kid on the block: the PICO 4. We’ll be discussing our first-hand experience with the headset and giving our honest thoughts about it to see if this is for you or not.
There’s a lot to unpack here, because of what PICO has done to the headset formula alone. The most common criticism levelled at VR headsets is their overall weight and bulk. Some can be heavy, with all their weight placed on one side, causing some level of discomfort to users. However, the PICO 4 is the only headset that solves this problem. Thanks to their complete redesign of the whole system, they were able to make a counterweight at the back without too much bulk, clocking the entire weight at only 586 g.
This is possible because of PICO’s proprietary Pancake optical lenses. This revolutionary lens technology also allows the PICO to have a wider field of view and clearer images than most headsets on the market. It also has a comfortable fit, as the straps are easy to slip on and be adjusted to the shape of your head right after. The padding for the face is super-soft, but it places a lot of pressure on the forehead, which caused us to remove the headset from time to time to take breaks. Additionally, the padding is a few millimetres too short, as sunlight can enter from the side and ruin the view. The included glasses spacer and the padding are magnetised, so there’s no need to worry about breaking anything.
The headset also has a fantastic speaker setup that offers superb sound quality and significantly enhances immersion. If it’s too much for you, there’s also a volume rocker on the straps of the headset. Unfortunately, using headphones without an adapter is not possible, as there are no audio jacks available, and Bluetooth is not an option either, as there is a considerable delay between what you see and what you hear.
Lastly, the performance. For its range and price, the PICO 4 demolishes those that share the same weight class by having a 4K resolution and a 72Hz to 90Hz refresh rate. This also allows native games to run smoothly without any stutter and with crystal-clear quality. The PICO 4 also supports VR on PC, such as Steam, via a cable connection or Wi-Fi. However, both connections compress the output, reducing the quality of the video. This is not a deal breaker, though, as some VR headsets share a similar trait. PICO provides a desktop app that links directly to Steam VR and allows you to fine-tune your preferences. Perhaps, with future updates, this can eliminate the quality issue altogether.
The controllers feel phenomenal when in use, as all the button placements are located where you’d naturally grip the controller, eliminating the problem of awkward hand placements. Additionally, the controller is fairly large, allowing for better and easier grip.
Tracking is super accurate, allowing for precise gameplay. It also has sensors built in, allowing for super-accurate hand placement and positioning. However, it seems to be a tad too sensitive. Even a millimetre adjustment to the wrist is enough to throw off your accuracy, which is critical for shooters.
The controllers are powered by AA batteries, which is a bit unfortunate, as a rechargeable version would have been a better option, but the batteries provided showed no signs of running out soon, so you can rest easy on that. The controllers’ rumble feature is extremely powerful and can be adjusted to taste, which explains the need for replaceable batteries.
Upon using the device, you are entitled to ten (10) free games. The games have plenty of replayability, but over time, you might start looking for more. This is where you will encounter one of the PICO 4’s major flaws, which is its limited game library.
PICO has some titles that will keep you interested, but it lacks big-name games that are associated with VR like Beat Saber, Among Us VR, or Resident Evil 4 VR. With this being an overall new console on the market, PICO is doing their best to add more games in the future.
It’s a great mid-range VR headset; despite its flaws, the PICO 4 delivers and even overperforms in many aspects. For the asking price, it has some overloaded features such as its lightweight form factor, beautiful display and graphics quality.
However, if you already have a Meta Quest 2, then we suggest you refrain from purchasing this as an upgrade as you have to spend more just to play the same games. Additionally, the small library is underwhelming to say the least. If a new wave of games will make its debut, and PICO decides to release a better, more comfortable padding for the headset, then we’ll happily redact our statement as those are the only things holding this otherwise exceptional device back.
The headset is an affordable and easy to use piece, but the limited game options and the painful padding has plenty of room for improvement.
- Lightweight and well-balance
- Beautiful image and video quality
- Comfortable controllers with long lasting batteries
- Incredible refresh rate
- Can be used in PCVR, with an added support app
- Will receive more support in the future
- Padding applies too much pressure on the forehead, and doesn't fully block out external light source
- At the time of writing, only a limited amount of games are available in the store
- Compress image and video quality when used on PC
- Lack of audio jack for earphones and headphones