Pico 4: the best standalone PCVR headset in Europe… NOW!
Afraid I might run out of cables for my HP Reverb G2, I decided to buy the Pico 4 as an alternative PCVR headset to run anything from DCS to Elite: Dangerous or Microsoft Flight Simulator. I was in for a surprise!
Tethered VR headsets continue to offer the best solution in terms of graphic quality, but don’t put aside the options offered by standalone headsets. My base VR headset is a HP Reverb G2, which I’ve since it was launched, but as HP seems to be on the way out from this segment of the market and coming across cables for the G2 headset is turning to be a nightmare, I decided I wanted an alternative.
While there are other PCVR headsets available, none seems to offer the quality the HP Reverb G2 offers at similar price point, so I decided to look at a standalone VR headset that can be used if my HP Reverb G2 becomes a paperweight. I don’t want to buy any Meta headset, after having used the original Rift and a Rift S that is still working, so the option was to go for a Chinese headset, and I chose the Pico 4, which has had some great reviews since its launch on September 2022. Faced with the option to share my data with the Chinese and an alien-looking guy I don’t trust, it was not difficult to choose. That’s me, your choices may be different…
The Pico 4 is a standalone VR headset that can also be used for PCVR, with Wi-Fi streaming or using a USB-C cable, to transfer the compressed video. It’s not a pure PCVR solution, using a Display Port, but it works, and it will surprise you, as it did to me, once you get it running. It’s not the quality you get from a HP Reverb G2 in terms of detail, but it’s close and has some advantages: it offers a good, untethered experience and has pancake optics, which are better than Fresnel.
The Pico 4 with a Display Port would be a PCVR winner
With a resolution per eye of 2160 x 2160, the Pico 4 is in the same league as the HP Reverb G2 in terms of resolution… and has better lenses. Had it a Display Port and it would be the PCVR headset to choose, I’ve no doubt about it. Maybe a Pico 5 will use the same base and go in that direction. Even if the price of a much needed Pico 5 is higher, I believe those who want serious PCVR will go for it. With the HP Reverb G2 costing, in Europe, over €600, sometimes more, I’ve no doubt people would buy a Pico 5 or whatever the company decides to call it.
For those in North America, the recent price drop for the HP Reverb G2, which costs $299 in some places, makes it the clear choice, but in Europe, where the G2 is expensive, the Pico 4 is, now, the best , most affordable and most reliable PCVR solution… if you don’t want to have anything to do with Meta… and can live without Beat Saber ? BTW, what is Beat Saber???
Because I write about VR professionally, covering VR experiences and everything else but games, and also about the use of VR in the film industry, for Virtual Production, I did ask Pico for a review sample of the headset, but was told they had no headset available now. Not being an influencer or YouTube star — I just write for a professional website — I decided I would do what I usually do when I really want to try something.
I acquired a Pico 4 a few days ago, and I’ve been exploring the options, with either Virtual Desktop, the Streaming assistant from Pico over Wi-Fi and also the cable connection, and while I can see the differences to the HP Reverb G2, I am amazed at what can be achieved, in terms of PCVR — which is my main interest — with the pancake lenses of this VR headset.
I am pleasantly surprised with the results. I tried Elite: Dangerous, Microsoft Flight Simulator and DCS and the results achieved are better than I expected. You do need a good PC to run these games in VR, but my 9700K with a RTX 3080 and 32GB RAM are OK. If you do not have similar or even better specs, your results may be different, but I managed to run Microsoft Flight Simulator at Godlike resolution in Virtual Desktop, and it was smooth enough for me.
Standalone VR headsets for PCVR are getting better
One note that I deem is important: I play Microsoft Flight Simulator mostly in remote areas, and many times flying gliders, which may give results that are different from those other players experience. In DCS I mostly fly to play with systems in aircraft, be it helicopters or planes and in Elite: Dangerous Odyssey I am way from the Bubble and exploring planets. Bear this in mind when comparing my results with yours. Still, my tests confirm the Pico 4 is a good PCVR alternative that I am glad to have discovered.
The Godlike resolution test in Virtual Desktop was just to see how the Pico 4 runs on my computer, but for normal use I believe High will, suffice. And as a new generation of graphics cards is available — if you’ve the money for it — things can only get better. Besides, Virtual Desktop is evolving, and an updated version that promises up to 20% increment when using PCVR is good news this December 2022.
In Europe, if you want a VR headset NOW, the Pico 4 is the best PCVR you can buy at an affordable price. If you are looking for your first VR headset and want to play computer games, this is a good option, even better than the Meta Quest 2, according to many reviewers. If you don’t care about a large library of games closed behind the Oculus wall, the Pico 4 will be a good acquisition. And even if you move to another PCVR headset in the future, the Pico 4, as I’ve discovered, is a great standalone headset to keep around.
Although I will keep using the HP Reverb G2 headset for many of my gaming sessions in simulators, the Pico 4, which is so easy to get running to enjoy games and other experiences is going to be used for more than I imagined. And as cables for the HP Reverb G2 become harder to get and there is no sign HP will move to deliver a new VR headset or even keep support for the G2, I am glad to have an alternative that I can quickly put to work, so I don’t stop playing in VR because, as it seems is happening to many people, the bad G2 cable has broken and there are no replacement cables.