TikTok owner ByteDance bolstered its lineup of VR headsets on Thursday by unveiling the new Pico 4 and 4 Pro as strong alternatives to the Meta Oculus, with prices starting from 429 euros ($421.79).

Why it matters: The Chinese tech giant is clearly eyeing the VR market, and this is its first VR product since acquiring the Beijing-based firm Pico last year for RMB 9 billion ($1.27 billion).

  • ByteDance first announced the series overseas rather than in China, a break from most Chinese consumer electronics vendors and a clue to its prioritizing of global markets.

Details: The Pico 4 will be available in Japan, South Korea, and 13 European countries, including the UK, France, Germany, and Spain, shipping from October 18. And it will come to China, Singapore, and Malaysia later this year. A US release has not been announced.

  • The Pico 4 has a similar standalone design to its predecessor, with the same 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor supporting connectivity with Windows devices. The new generation does have larger 8 GB RAM and larger 4,320 x 2,160 resolution.
  • The firm says the new products have adopted the popular pancake optical module, which has less weight and a smaller size than traditional Fresnel lenses. It offers a 105-degree perspective with 20.6 pixels per degree (PPD) and a 90 Hz refresh rate. 
  • The Pico 4 can last three hours with a 5,300 mAh battery, according to the headset’s official spec pages. The battery is located in the strip that goes on the back of your head to aid balance.
  • The headset uses inside-out tracking tech that enables the user to be located without external beacons or equipment. It comes with four cameras to support a full-color passthrough feature that creates mixed reality, something its rival Meta is still working on.
  • The Pico 4 also comes with two motion controllers, which support vibration feedback.
  • At the release event, Pico announced content partnerships with Ubisoft, Les Mills International, and Discovery for gaming, fitness courses, and video streaming, respectively. Popular dancing game Just Dance will arrive on Pico as an exclusive and there are also plans for a dedicated social platform, Project Pico World, which will be available sometime in 2023.
  • The major difference between the standard version and the Pro version (which is coming soon) is that the Pro has three infrared cameras for eye and face tracking, and features accurate measurement and stepless automatic adjustment of the pupil distance and IPD to ensure image quality, reducing discomfort.

Context: Founded in March 2015, Pico is a major VR hardware and services vendor. In addition to its products for the consumer market, it also provides services for enterprise clients in the fields of education and healthcare.

  • Pico took 11% of the global XR market by shipments in the second quarter of this year, ranking third overall. Its major rival Meta dominated with a 66% market share during the same period, according to Counterpoint, a Hong Kong-based research firm.

Ward Zhou

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a]technode.com or Twitter @zhounanyu.