Apple Vision Pro Mixed-reality Headset: A member of Apple’s staff showed me around the new Vision Pro headset last week as we passed a well-kept lawn, descended a set of stairs, and entered a neatly furnished mock living room within the Steve Jobs Theater.
Similar to the initial Vision Pro tours offered to other journalists, my demo did not cover all the bases. As I sat on a gray sofa adjacent to two vigilant Apple personnel, I wore the device for around 45 minutes while they led me through a tailored demonstration. I was not permitted to record any footage or take the device home to conduct more tests.
I can’t say with confidence if the Vision Pro is worth the $3,500 (yep, three thousand five hundred dollars) price tag because my trial was so short. (Excluding VAT and any optional extras like the $200 travel bag or the $100 Zeiss lens inserts needed for prescription glasses or contacts, that price doesn’t cover it all.)
Also, I have no idea whether the Vision Pro addresses the “six-month problem.” Minor annoyances, such as grainy graphics or an absence of interesting applications, begin to accumulate with many virtual reality headsets I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot. Eventually, the novelty wears off.
Every single headset I try out eventually finds its way to my closet, where it gathers dust, six months later. However, regarding my initial thoughts on the Vision Pro, I can state two things. To start, after years of development and billions of dollars, the Vision Pro is, in many respects, an outstanding device.
Its eye-tracking and gesture-based controls, display quality, and ability to combine immersive virtual experiences with the ability to see the world around you, a feature known as “pass-through,” are leagues ahead of the previous best virtual reality headsets on the market, the Meta Quest series.
Although I went into my demo with an attitude of skepticism due to my concerns about Apple’s aggressive stage management, I experienced moments of true wonder and a sense of being present for what could be a groundbreaking change in computing while wearing the Vision Pro.
As for the second point, I have no clue who or what the intended audience is for the Vision Pro, even after giving it a go. Not even the most well-off people can afford it at $3,500. It’s a huge, ostentatious item that will turn heads.
That doesn’t mean the Vision Pro isn’t interesting or that using it was a pleasure for me. Yeah, I did. However, now that I’ve had some experience with them, I can better understand who would be tempted to get one right now and who would be better off holding off.
For those who are new to virtual reality, I highly recommend trying out a demo version of the Vision Pro at an Apple Store when they go on sale this Friday or convincing a friend to let you use theirs. (“Boats” is a good analogy for virtual reality headsets; borrowing is usually preferable to buying.)
Problems with early virtual reality headsets included headache-inducing motion tracking, flimsy controllers, and hazy displays. You also couldn’t do anything else while wearing them.
Beginning with the displays—two panels about the size of postage stamps—in the Vision Pro, Apple has addressed many of these issues. They are truly remarkable: clear, vivid, and intricate. A screen can’t compare to the sensation of staring out of your own eyes at these.
The immersion toggle, which lets you see more of the room around you by turning a dial on top of the device, was another impressive feature of the Vision Pro.
The Vision Pro is unique among virtual reality systems in that it does not work with controllers. You need to glance at an icon to navigate. To choose it, then squeeze your thumb and index finger together. Even though there isn’t a particularly high learning curve, it took me a while to figure it out.
With the Vision Pro, you can expect average comfort. Although it was neither heavy nor painful like other virtual reality headsets, I did have some temporary eye strain as my eyes adapted to wearing and removing it. (One of my coworkers who had a demo said it was like leaving a dark movie theater on a bright day.)
I have no idea whether these are just temporary issues or if I will eventually become used to them. However, they were not so terrible that the event was spoiled.
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