Meta’s Cambria AR/VR headset might allow a computing experience that’s somewhat like a wearable Chromebook, which is more intriguing than that sounds at first. A Chromebook is a low-power yet competent laptop that is optimized for web apps but can run Android apps as well. Meta’s solution adds several advantages. Most notably, the headset provides a virtual screen that is equivalent to viewing a big screen that’s a few feet away.

Meta announced at its Connect event in 2021 that it was working on a more advanced augmented reality/virtual reality headset that would be far superior to its current Quest 2 design. The headset, known as project Cambria, will have a color pass-through, allowing high-quality augmented reality effects. This will be compelling for AR developers. However, the real breakthrough will come in the form of smart glasses that are easier to wear for long periods in daily life.

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New details have leaked about Meta’s project Cambria headset suggesting that it might allow a computing experience that’s somewhat like a Chromebook with one or more large monitors attached. According to a recent report from The Information, web apps will offer performance similar to a Chromebook. The price is said to be $799, which is in line with the cost of a Chromebook plus a low-cost VR headset like the Quest 2. As a bonus, the much more powerful Cambria headset offers a big-screen experience and will be a big step up from the Quest 2, running the same apps and games more smoothly and at a higher resolution. In addition, eye-tracking and face tracking will reportedly enable the user’s avatar to be more representative, making virtual calls and meetings more natural and expressive. However, a conflicting report from Upload VR, who spoke with Meta, states that the price will be “‘significantly’ higher than $800,” which could be problematic.

More Meta Headsets Coming

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Even if Cambria’s price is set too high, there should be more VR headsets coming. Two new versions of the Quest headset are reportedly being developed for release in 2023 and 2024, and updates to the high-end Cambria system are also expected. This intensive release schedule should come as no surprise since Meta has made it clear that it intends to continue to invest heavily in its Metaverse plans over the long term. Project Cambria is the first step in this new direction to bring augmented and virtual reality into mainstream awareness.

Meta’s Cambria headset will offer advanced AR capabilities, longer battery life, and a more comfortable design with the battery placed at the back to balance the headset’s weight to allow more extended periods in VR. Despite the improvements, only developers and very enthusiastic VR adventurers might be willing to pay thousands for such a device, and perhaps Meta isn’t expecting this to be the right solution for everyone. Nevertheless, Meta’s Cambria AR/VR headset certainly sounds like an intriguing product that will offer enough value as a VR headset. The extra potential for use as a laptop replacement might justify a bit more than $800.