Hardware Review Virtual Reality

Pico 4 ALL-in-One VR Headset – Review

The Pico 4 ALL-in-One VR Headset by ByteDance is a standalone Virtual Reality headset, competing with the Meta Quest 2 as a device for room-scale virtual reality (VR). Should you consider it over the more well-known Meta headset? There are certainly some reasons to look at which I’ll explore in this review.

What Can It Do?

To introduce the Pico 4 first, this VR kit comes with the headset itself, two motion controllers, and a charger. It’s a standalone headset, with the ability to use games and applications from the Pico store, but it can be used as a wireless or wired PCVR headset too. Like most modern VR headsets, it tracks the motion controllers with inside-out tracking, via cameras on the headset itself.

While there are applications for art, exercise, and more, the main use of the Pico 4 for most will be gaming. This might be pulling out your virtual bow and arrow in In Death: Unchained, defeating enemies in slow-motion in Superhot VR, or perhaps even getting active by playing rhythm titles such as Pistol Whip.

Of course, it has other functions too. While many don’t take advantage of the function, it’s possible to watch 3D videos in VR or load up a meditation app.

Pico 4 - In the box

Setting Up

After unpacking the Pico 4, the setup was very simple. I put the headset on, tightened it slightly, followed the instructions to map out an area of my room, created an account, and logged in. That was enough to get me into Pico’s virtual world.

That said, it does come with a couple of extras that can be used, but require a little extra setup; The ‘nose flap’ to block light and a glasses spacer. Pulling off the facial interface and putting the glasses spacer on was incredibly easy; it’s magnetic and clips together easily. Putting the nose flap on did take me a few tries, but it fit in the end.

As a minor note, putting the headset on is very easy. The back flips up, I hold it to my face, then flip the back down. It’s then secure.

Pico 4 - Front View

Comfort

I found the Pico 4 to be very comfortable. The foam padding on the front and back help to avoid it feeling too tight, and the top strap takes some of the weight, avoiding the downside of the halo design.

While it isn’t as light as the DPVR E4, it certainly feels close. I was actually surprised to find that the Meta Quest 2 is slightly lighter, but I imagine it’s because the Pico 4 feels far less front-heavy. The battery is built in at the back of the headstrap, which leads to a far better weight distribution.

Playing very active games isn’t a problem either. I didn’t find that sweat was an issue with the foam, though it did steam up the lenses a little. The headset itself stayed fairly secure too, even with a lot of moving about.

In terms of the aforementioned glasses spacer, my glasses fit in without any issues. It was very slightly less comfortable with glasses on feeling a little tight, but they didn’t touch the lenses, and it’s certainly better than several other VR headsets.

As always with virtual reality headsets and comfort, your experience may vary, if just because there are many different shapes of faces and heads. I found no real issues here though.

Pico 4 - Lens View

Vision

In terms of resolution, the Pico 4 is one of the best in the price range. It’s 4320 X 2160 (2160 X 2160 per eye), which brings an incredibly sharp display. In addition to this, the field of view is also particularly good at 105°, leading to a more immersive experience. It uses pancake lenses, which lack the glare of certain other types.

The size of the ‘sweet spot’, aka the position of the eye to the display where everything looks clear is difficult to measure, but it feels quite large on the Pico 4. I never had any problems getting it into a position where everything came into focus.

The colors are reasonable. While one potential issue with pancake lenses is dimming, I didn’t find this to be a notable issue with the Pico 4. It does use an LCD through, so those ‘true blacks’ won’t be present and it’s not as bright as an LED.

The refresh rate is limited to 90Hz. I haven’t had any issues with this, though some other headsets do go up to 120Hz.

One nice feature of the Pico 4 is that the interpupillary distance (IPD) is a physical adjustment and can be adjusted by the mm, rather than in large steps. While it’s set digitally, you can feel the lenses moving. It even lets you go beyond the recommended limits, if with a warning that it might be too tight. I tried this out and did find it pinched my nose a touch when setting it extremely narrow, but having the option is better than only catering to the average face.

The passthrough is even in color! Though everything goes appear much bigger through it.

While there are a couple of places where it could be better, the Pico 4 really feels like it punches above its weight class when it comes to the display.

Audio

The integrated sound is relatively good. It’s certainly not as good as quality headphones or the high-end Valve Index, but it’s clear. It’s certainly good enough for most, but adding a pair of headphones does add to the experience.

The lack of a phono port was a surprise, but not one that bothered me. I never use them outside of testing because it’s another wire. I’ve been unable to test it myself, but I have heard from multiple sources that it’s possible to use a USB-C to phono port adapter if you do want this. Luckily, Bluetooth remains an easier and cable-free option.

The microphone is adequate for some casual gaming online, but you’ll probably want another solution for streaming or competitive play.

Tracking and Controllers

The two motion controllers track accurately. While the usual disclaimers regarding inside-out tracking apply—that it can only track accurately within the area that the cameras on the headset can see—losing tracking within that area has been an extremely rare occurrence. I imagine the ‘loop’ design helps prevent the sensors from being blocked here.

The controllers themselves are comfortable to hold and have a similar layout to those of the Meta Quest 2 and several other VR headsets. A bonus here is that they have a screenshot button, which is a particularly nice addition for content creators or anyone who wants to share their gameplay.

While a small detail, I quite liked the battery compartment. It takes 2x AA batteries, and inside of a slide cover, it has a switch that makes a battery compartment pop out.

Pico 4 - Box

Store

One area where the Pico 4 isn’t great is the store.

It’s not bad and actually has a reasonably wide selection of games and other applications. You won’t have any problems finding games to play in most genres.

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t match up to the Meta Quest 2 in this area. Both as the more popular headset and having a longer history, the Meta headset just has a lot more titles. On top of that, while the Pico 4 does have some great games, it’s missing certain system sellers such as Beat Saber. There has been an exclusive Just Dance VR title announced for Pico 4 to release in 2023, but at this time there has been no further news on this.

While minor, the lack of a webstore that can be visited outside of the headset or the phone app is another downside, but it’s not alone in lacking that.

PCVR

The Pico 4 can connect to an appropriate PC for PCVR games either through a USB 3.0 to USB C cable or wirelessly through a WiFi router. A dedicated dongle is planned, but has not been released at the time of writing.

Wireless works surprisingly well. While the paid option of Virtual Desktop remains available and has more options, a free piece of software called the Streaming Assistant can be downloaded both on the Pico 4 and PC. There are only four quality levels to choose from here, but it certainly meets my needs.

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to set up wireless with the Streaming Assistant. It took a few minutes to install it on the PC and the Pico 4. I clicked start on both and it worked—I was in SteamVR.

It works smoothly for the most part, even for my use case with a regular home router that has tons of other devices connected to it at the same time. I very occasionally noticed half a second of ‘lag’, and that was about it. That said, for games where perfect timing is needed like Beat Saber, it’s not quite good enough, even on the lower ‘SD’ quality. But anything other than a rhythm game, and I can’t find any room to complain, even in my setup, which is less than ideal.

While Pico 4’s PCVR experience is very good, it is worth noting for anyone new to VR that several issues may pop up. For example, some older games such as the VR DLC for Gal*Gun 2 are only set up for the HTC Vive controllers that don’t always map over easily, and some games are not suitable for inside-out tracking. This isn’t specific to the Pico 4, but affects many headsets including the Meta Quest 2 and even the PCVR-only DPVR E4.

Pico 4 - All Items

Verdict

The Pico 4 is an excellent virtual reality headset. It’s comfortable, and the display is amazing considering the price. The only notable downside is the smaller library when compared to its closest competitor, the Meta Quest 2. In terms of technology, it’s perhaps the best at this price point.

Virtual reality marches on fast and the Meta Quest 3 may come and change things soon, but at the moment the Pico 4 is my standalone headset of choice—at least as long as the game I want to play is on there.

PICO 4 IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Purchase Link: Amazon (UK)

Thinking about buying a Pico 4? Why not check out our Virtual Reality reviews?

Many thanks to ByteDance for a review unit and some games to test out the Pico 4.

If you’d like to see more articles from us, please remember to follow us on Twitter🐦 and consider turning notifications on. Or type in your E-mail address and click the button for free email updates. You can also come chat with us on Discord.
Loading

Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage

Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!