With arguably one of the biggest product launches in Apple’s history just days away, the first verdicts on the mixed reality headset Apple is pinning its vision (pun intended) for the future of computing to are coming in.
Only a handful of reviews from major publications and/or YouTube channels have trickled out today. But most agree that the Vision Pro delivers the hardware and technical engineering that we have come to expect from Apple products. Apple appears to have nailed the hardware aspect of the Vision Pro, with every reviewer saying that the headset’s build quality and video passthrough technology put it in a class of its own when compared to other AR/VR headsets like the $499 Meta Quest 3.
However, being a first generation device, the Vision Pro is a product full of tradeoffs. It’s expensive, kind of heavy, doesn’t have great battery life, and, though technically impressive, still suffers from the fact that the technology to really pull a device like this off just isn’t there yet.
Because of this, the situations you’ll want to use the Vision Pro in are a bit limited. Most reviewers said the best experiences to be had with the headset were 1) using it as a personal home theater, playing cinema-quality and 3D movies, or 2) as a portable office, thanks to the headset’s ability to place not only your Mac’s desktop but also Vision Pro apps like Music or Freeform in floating windows all around you.
As The Verge’s Nilay Patel put it in his review, “It’s magic, until it’s not.”
Based on what I’ve read so far, the thing I’m most intrigued by is pairing the headset to a Mac for the immersive giant monitor(s) experience. What do you think about Vision Pro? Has your opinion of the device changed after seeing these initial reviews? Are you planning on buying one?
The Vision Pro launches on February 2. Check out the roundup below and let us know what you think in the comments.
Nilay Patel’s review is by far the most informative when it comes to breaking down what Apple’s ambition with the Vision Pro is vs. what they’ve actually been able to accomplish with this first generation headset.
Patel says it’s the best designed mixed reality headset he’s used yet, but notes that it’s like wearing “an iPad on your face.” Patel notes that the device weighs between 600-650 grams, well more than the 470g 11″ iPad Pro, and nearly as much as the 682g 12″ iPad Pro.
Patel also notes that the exterior screen that runs along the front of the headset and allows it to display your eyes to those around you, doesn’t work quite as well as Apple would like it to.
And though Patel says that the video passthrough and dual 4K displays on the inside of the headset result in the sharpest mixed reality image yet, it’s not completely immersive. Patel notes that while wearing the headset, it doesn’t completely fill your vision. He calls out “large black borders” that appear to enable a field of view less than the 110 degrees of the Meta Quest 3. He says it’s “like looking through binoculars.” He adds that color fringing, distortion, and vignetting can be seen when looking to the edges of the device’s lenses as well.
The detail that stood out most to me from Patel’s review is his mention of how “lonely” using Vision Pro is.
If you’re extremely excited about the potential of the Vision Pro and want to dive into the experience of unboxing the device and seeing some of the fun and useful ways the device can be used, you should definitely check out our friend iJustine’s review. Her excitement is infectious. This is the Vision Pro review that will make you smile.
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern decided to really put the Vision Pro experience to the test in her review. In fact, she barely took the headset off for a full 24 hours to get a feel for it.
In fact, in one segment of the below video, Stern uses the Vision Pro’s Crouton app to make herself a meal in augmented reality. This is probably the best example I’ve seen of a true augmented reality experience and best highlights the potential of the technology. For instance, Stern starts a timer for her pasta and places the timer so that it hovers over the actual pot on the stove. She then starts a second timer for another pot. Both timers stay affixed in space while she is working on other parts of the meal prep.
Stern also spent a big chunk of time working from her Mac and watching movies with the headset and really enjoyed those aspects as well. At the end of the day, she calls the Vision Pro “a glimpse of the future.”
“The headset is the best wearable display I’ve ever put on. But at its price, and with so few VisionOS apps at launch, the Vision Pro isn’t a device I’d recommend to any of my friends or family.”
Stein says the “killer app” for Vision Pro is the “cinema-level” video playback. He describes the experience of watching the NFL’s AFC Championship Game with the Paramount Plus app in a window hanging in the area in his home where the TV normally is. “…The sound is coming from the TV area like it’s hanging there. Apple says audio is realistically echoed around a room based on the sensed dimensions (audio ray tracing, Apple calls it). All I know is it sounds natural and helps create the illusion I’m looking through glasses at things in the real world.
“…That’s a hard sell for a $3,499 headset, but if you go for a demo and see it, you’ll probably be just as stunned as I’ve been. Movies can float in your room like hovering TVs, or be placed in a virtual cinema mode.”
However, like Patel, Stein notes that the device isolates you from those around you. “…My wife says she doesn’t like this, that I’m so removed from everything. My son calls it a phone for my face.”
Like Stern, Stein was intrigued by the experience of working with Vision Pro.
“What if my desk was just floating monitors? What if I didn’t need anything but a headset? Vision Pro gets close to that feeling when all the apps are open and the flow is going. I’m doing that now. I’m in my virtual floating computer as I write this. There are glitches, and sometimes the controls feel too floaty, but in its first form, I’m shocked at how good it already is.”