Top New VR Headsets to Expect in 2023
Several VR headset launches have been lined up. A number of these have already been confirmed while some have been rumored for years although the manufacturers are yet to confirm the launch date or even their existence.
Going by the list below, 2023 could be the busiest year in VR hardware with close to a dozen devices hitting the market. Both the PlayStation VR 2 and the Meta Quest 3 headset are launching this year and these two headsets are expected to have a transformative impact on the industry.
Lurking big in the background is the potential launch of the Apple headset this year whose impact is expected to be disruptive and challenge the status quo currently dominated by Meta, HTC Vive, Valve and even ByteDance. Although evidence abound that Apple is working on a virtual reality-augmented reality headset, the company is yet to confirm the leaks and rumors.
Below, we look at the list of confirmed and unconfirmed VR/XR headsets that are expected to e launched in the course of the year.
Confirmed VR/XR Headsets
The Vive XR Elite
HTC has been teasing a “small” standalone VR headset from October 2022, the Vive XR Elite. This headset will reportedly compete with the Meta Quest 2 headset although it may be costlier than Meta’s highly successful VR headset.
XR hardware analyst and YouTuber Brad Lynch leaked the headset in November last year. The new headset is seemingly a blend of the Vive Focus 3 and the Vive Flow and features a detachable head mount. The headset can be connected to an external source and can be put into both virtual reality and augmented reality uses. The augmented reality functionality is via a color passthrough.
The Vive XR Elite was unveiled at this year’s CES event, where it emerged it is a prosumer mixed reality headset priced at $1099. The headset begins to ship at the end of February 2023.
Lynx R1 Headset
The Lynx R1 headset by the Paris-based Lynx was initially funded through a Kickstarter campaign. The headset was initially scheduled for release in April 2022 but this was postponed and the launch date has been subject to further delays due to supply chain issues. The headset’s launch is now slated for February 2023.
Technically, the Lynx R1 headset isn’t much different from the Meta Quest Pro headset. Like the Quest Pro, the Lynx R1 has also been built for mixed-reality applications. However, at just $849, it will be much cheaper than Meta’s work-focused headset. The headset uses hand tracking although dedicated controllers will be arriving by Q3 2023.
Unconfirmed VR/XR Headsets to Expect in 2023
Apple XR Headset
The Apple XR headset is expected to be the biggest XR hardware news this year. Apple has been developing the mixed reality headset for years now and there are signs that development may be nearing completion. Reports by Bloomberg tech reporter Mark Gurman and renowned leaker and supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo point to an unveiling in 2023. These reports haven’t been confirmed or verified yet and as far as its mixed reality hardware plans go, Apple is keeping its cards close to the chest.
Apple’s headset is expected to be a game-changer in a mixed-reality market that is still in its infancy. It will be years or probably a decade before we have mixed reality hardware that can rival or potentially even replace computing as we know it today. Compared to virtual reality, the market for mixed reality technology is still a tiny, fringe technological segment and Apple is likely to market the device merely as a devkit. The device will reportedly cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000.
There have been rumors and speculation that we might see a successor to the Pico 4 headset in the course of the year and that it will feature the new Snapdragon XR2 SoC. It would be logical for Pico to launch a new headset with the chip since the next generation Quest, the Meta Quest 3, which will be a Pico competitor, will be powered by the new generation XR2 chip.
The chip would make the Pico 5 a superior headset to many of the current standalone virtual reality headsets including the Pico 4 and the Meta Quest 2.
A New Samsung “Metaverse Device”
Samsung is reportedly lining up a new metaverse device, a mixed reality devkit, for release later in the year. This is according to a South Korean news portal that first reported the news. Samsung is planning to unveil the device in preparation for Apple’s market entry in this segment. Samsung and Apple are already fierce competitors in the smartphone market.
Samsung co-CEO Jong-hee has in the past admitted that his company is developing a “metaverse device.” There is no information on the technical details of the headset. It will likely have hardware similar to that of the Meta Quest Pro headset and other mixed-reality devices. Samsung was a major player in the VR hardware market in its early years although it was eventually upstaged by the likes of Meta and HTC which forced it to pull away from this space. If the news is true, it looks like Samsung is about to make a major comeback to reclaim some of the market share it lost to its competitors.
Released in mid-2019, the Valve Index headset is still an impressive PC VR headset. It remains one of the best in spite of having been in the market for more than three years. However, the headset now has a dated screen and it is still wired to a VR-ready computer.
In late 2021, it was confirmed that the company is indeed working on a successor to the Valve Index headset and that its prototype is codenamed Deckard.
The Deckard headset is rumored to be either partially or fully standalone, unlike the PC-tethered Valve Index. Many VR gaming consoles are currently going standalone so it is just about time for Valve to replace the Index with something in tune with the current trends
In early 2022, Valve CEO Gabe Newell suggested that the company’s next virtual reality hardware could be an evolution of the Steam Deck but for a virtual reality use case.
All the code hints, patents as well as job postings suggest that Valve is working on a serious VR headset. What isn’t clear is when this piece of hardware might hit the market. There hasn’t been any concrete leak yet about the hardware. It should be recalled that the Valve Index launch was preceded by a series of solid leaks. Besides, mobile chips aren’t an optimal solution for PC gaming on SteamVR. A 2023 release for the Valve Index headset may, thus, be far from certain.
Meta Quest 3 Headset Plus Others?
Meta will be releasing the Meta Quest 3, the successor to Quest 2, this year. Zuckerberg has referred to it as the “next-generation of our Quest headset for consumers.”
Although Meta executives haven’t explicitly referred to the headset as Meta Quest 3, all their statements hint at a Quest 3 headset. Both Zuckerberg and Meta’s CTO Andrew Bosworth have said the headset will launch in 2023.
Meta’s VR hardware is usually unveiled at the Meta Connect event followed shortly by the device going on sale. It is, thus, highly likely that the Meta Quest 3 will be launched at the Connect event in the fall. Zuckerberg has stated that the headset will be priced between $300 and $500.
A design of the Quest 3 headset was leaked in October 2022. The blueprints show the headset focuses on mixed-reality functions. The recently launched Meta Quest Pro also focuses on mixed reality uses and is designed for work/prosumer/productivity use cases.
Meta is hoping that developers will leverage the Quest Pro devkit to build mixed-reality software for the Quest 3 headset.
According to YouTuber and XR hardware analyst Bradley Lynch, the Meta Quest 3 headset will run on the new generation XR2 SoC which could give the headset a notable performance boost. However, this SoC hasn’t even been announced!
Bosworth recently did a blog post hinting that Meta could launch some tech glasses in 2023. This will most likely be a new version of the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses that Meta launched in collaboration with Luxottica.
Pimax Portal and Pimax Crystal
Pimax will be shipping the Pimax Portal and Pimax Crystal this year. Pimax Portal is a handheld console like the Nintendo Switch or the Steam Deck which can be transformed into a virtual reality headset via an accessory. It’s a throwback to the days of smartphone VR. The Pimax Portal device was funded via a Kickstarter campaign and is scheduled to ship in January 2023. However, this date is probably not cast in iron given Pimax’s history of postponements.
Then there is Pimax Crystal which is a standalone high-end virtual reality headset featuring high-resolution displays, QLED displays, eye and face tracking, optional lens pairs, a removable battery that is positioned at the back of the head, and a display port connector. It has been reported that the standalone headset will retail at $1,599 and that it targets the enthusiasts’ market.
Somnium VR 1
Somnium Space presented a PC VR headset the CES 2023. The piece of hardware is aiming to satisfy the highest standards.
The headset has a modular design and a high-quality passthrough mode along with open-source features. The 3D designs of parts can be downloaded from the manufacturer and printed. Users can also order the electronic components of the headset including the sensors and lenses directly from the manufacturer.
Somnium Space presented a working devkit of the headset at the CES 2023 event. From the pictures, the device appeared finished. The headset was developed in partnership with the Czech manufacturer VRgineers, a tech company that builds high-end devices for enterprise clients.
PlayStation VR 2
The second-generation PlayStation VR 2 will launch on February 22, 2023. It is a vast improvement over its predecessor. The headset is technically proficient and up to date with the latest XR technologies. It has minimal cabling and will ship with dedicated virtual reality controllers.
It vastly improves on the shortcomings of the first-generation PlayStation VR headset and includes advanced features like head haptics and eye tracking.
The PlayStation VR 2 headset is priced at $550.
Shiftall: MeganeX Headset
Panasonic subsidiary Shiftall is releasing a headset this year called MeganeX. The headset is launching in spring after undergoing numerous revisions as well as a postponement. It is an ultra-slim and lightweight headset that supports the Valve Index controllers.
The headset is built with HDR-enabled OLED microdisplay as well as Panasonic-branded pancake lenses. These have added to its super-light 320 grams weight, without the cables. The temples of the headset are foldable, making it easier to carry the device with you.
The Shiftall MeganeX headset will be available in two versions. There is the Standard Edition of the headset that goes for $1,699 and targets deep-pocketed buyers. The price does not include the base stations and Index controllers which must be bought separately.
The Shiftall MeganeX Business Edition features a diopter adjustment. It also has a nose pad in place of a forehead pad that allows you to don and doff it with relative ease. No pricing details have been provided yet on the Valve Business Edition. Both the Shiftall Business Edition and Standard Edition headsets feature a Lighthouse adapter.
The MeganeX headset is built with a DisplayPort connection to the PC to provide native PC VR. This connection is made through an included converter box. The headset has no standalone mode of operation and must be tethered to a PC.