Just days after carelessly offering one of the best-known tech journalists on the planet a free go on a prototype, Meta has officially announced the Quest 3 virtual reality headset.

Handily, the US$499 (~NZ$820) handset has been semi-unveiled a full three days before Apple shows off its mixed-reality headset, which is expected to cost a ludicrous NZ$4,775. Advantage, Meta — words that it still feels weird typing, no matter how accurate in this specific case.

The Quest 3 is coming this fall (that’s autumn to you and me), and it’s described by Meta CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg as “the first mainstream headset with high-res colour mixed reality”. Which is perhaps an acknowledgement that the struggling Meta Quest Pro was anything but mainstream, if its recent massive price cut wasn’t a big enough hint.

That full-colour passthrough is quite a big deal. The Quest 2 does have a passthrough, but it’s grainy black and white, mainly for setting up your borders so you don’t have a nasty collision with your furniture.

A full-colour version opens the door to full augmented reality experiences, where digital things are projected into the real world. It’s one step further along the road to making Zuckerberg’s metaverse dream/nightmare a reality.

The headset is also “40% thinner and more comfortable” with a “next-gen Qualcomm chipset” offering 2x the graphics performance. “Our most powerful headset yet,” he added — a bit of a kick to those who paid three times as much for the Pro model a few months ago, eh?

We’ll find out more about the Meta Quest 3 at Meta Connect 2023 on September 27. But perhaps aware that this extremely premature announcement might spike enthusiasm for the Quest 2, Meta has added two things to make yesterday’s news that bit more tempting to buyers today.

Firstly, the Quest 2 and Quest Pro headsets are both getting a software update that’ll unlock more CPU and GPU power. 

“In an upcoming software update, we’re updating the Quest 2 and Quest Pro GPU and CPU. Quest 2 and Pro will see an up-to 26% CPU performance increase with an up-to 19% GPU speed increase for Quest 2 and 11% for Quest Pro,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Said blog post also mentioned the other big news: that the Quest 2 will be getting a price cut from June 4. Or, more accurately, it’s returning to the price it had before it increased last year, which is down to US$299.99 in the States. 

Keep an eye on Meta’s New Zealand Quest 2 store page to see if Kiwis get the same treatment on June 4.