Chinese device maker Pico has unveiled a new virtual reality system that the company says is the first to sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. But unlike some all-in-one headsets that feature Android-based software, the Pico Neo doesn’t cram the processor, memory, and RAM into the headset itself.
Instead, the Pico Neo’s processor is packed into a game controller. This serves a few purposes. First, you don’t have to worry about the headset getting too hot (or your face getting to hot due to a heavy headset). And second, if all you want is the headset you can buy it without the controller for about half the price and then pair it with a PC or other device.
Geekbuying reports the Pico Neo should be available in late June for about $550 with the controller included, or for around $300 without the controller.
In addition to a Snapdragon 820 processor, the system has 4GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC 5.1 storage, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, and a microSD card for up to 128GB of removable storage.
The game controller has physical buttons plus a touchpad on the back and a 6-axis motion senor. It weighs less than 8 ounces and connects to the 11 ounce headset with a USB-C cable. The system runs a custom version of Android with a user interface designed to be easy to navigate using a controller and headset.
Inside the headset there’s a 3.8 inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 1200 x 1080 pixels per eye and a 102 degree field of view. The pupil distance can be adjusted between 54 and 73 millimeters.
The headset has a 5,000 mAh battery with support for Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0. Pico says you should get up to 3 hours of gaming or video playback time per charge.
You can also use optional motion tracking controllers which work with a tracking camera system to enable more immersive gaming than you’d get using a gamepad alone.
I’m still curious to see whether this sort of system will be able to compete in any serious way with PC and game console VR systems like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. But the Pico Neo certainly seems to have some interesting hardware. What remains to be seen is whether the software experience will be compelling enough to convince anyone to spend hundreds of dollars on this sort of system rather than spending a few bucks on a Google Cardboard-style smartphone holder.