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Apple Vision Pro review roundup: Amazing capabilities with big trade-offs

Apple Vision Pro

 

Apple Vision Pro : The first reviews of Apple’s Vision Pro headset, from early access posts to the company’s attempt to create the next computing platform, speak to a big leap forward for face-mounted PCs, for better or worse.

The US-only headset,  which was first announced in June of last year  , aims to take “spatial computing” beyond the limited mixed reality offered by competitors from Meta, Microsoft and others. It’s packed with cutting-edge technology including 3D cameras on the front for capturing video, the ability to blend the real and virtual worlds with hand and eye tracking, as well as a screen on the front that shows a simulation of the wearer’s eyes.

But at a cost of $3,499 (about £2,760) in the US, it has a lot of work to do to convince consumers and developers alike that it can be anything other than an expensive niche toy for tech enthusiasts.

Nilay Patel  of The Verge  called the Vision Pro an  “amazing product”  but one with a lot of big trade-offs, including damaging your hair every time you put it in:

“Apple is very proud of the displays inside the Vision Pro, and for good reason — they represent a huge leap forward in display technology,” he wrote. “They also look amazing overall — sharp enough to read text without even thinking about it, and bright enough to do movies justice. Apple calibrates them for color at the factory so they’re also vibrant and color-accurate without looking saturated or blown out. It’s  very small  “But it works  so  well that it looks huge.”

But he said that while real-world transient visibility is the best of all, “the field of view isn’t huge, and the basic nature of looking at small displays through lenses makes that field of view appear smaller. Apple won’t tell me the exact number, but the field of view The Vision Pro is decidedly smaller than the Quest 3’s 110 horizontal degrees. This means there are fairly large black borders around what you see, as if you were looking through binoculars.

 CNBC  ‘s Todd Ha  Silton  was impressed  by the hardware and experience:

I loved watching movies with a headset. I relaxed on my couch and put the huge screen on my living room wall and watched an hour of Barbie and the first two episodes of Masters of the Air before the battery got to about 5%. Another night I watched Greyhound. She used the NBA app, updated to run on Vision Pro, to stream four games simultaneously, with the main game placed in the middle and another pinned to the sides. “It’s wild,” he wrote.

But he ran into the dreaded app gap that plagues new devices. “Vision Pro supports over a million iPhone and iPad apps. But you have to search for each one individually and some are not available. Netflix and Spotify have not been shy about not supporting Vision Pro, although you can easily access either of them using a browser. However, there are Lots of other apps I couldn’t find: 1Password isn’t present, which made logging into some apps a bit of a pain. You won’t find Uber or DoorDash (but there is GrubHub!) or Amazon. There aren’t any Google apps here, including Including YouTube TV, although it works fine in the browser.

“Popular games like Diablo Immortal and Genshin Impact are not available. Facebook apps are not here, so there is no Instagram. These are just a few examples I noticed.

The Wall Street Journal’s   Joanna Stern  found that Vision Pro was actually good for getting work done, with virtual windows spread across your display or replicating your Mac’s screen, as long as you had other bits of hardware:

There’s a built-in virtual keyboard so you can type in the air. But it’ll drive you crazy for anything longer than a short message. And picking out smaller buttons with a single press should be a carnival game.” I started getting real work done once I paired the Vision Pro with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

“I took it up a notch again by connecting my MacBook Pro, allowing me to write this review on a giant virtual screen hovering above my desk.”

But was it heavy? “Yes, absolutely. The metal and glass body gives it a premium look and heavy feel. One of the included straps has a top strap to reduce face crushing; the other wraps around your head like a comfortable tube sock. The light seal (not a breed of marine mammal) acts as a cushion and light blocker. Now covered in makeup.

Weight is one reason the headset has an external battery pack tied to it by cable, but even then  Patel found  the magnesium, carbon fiber and aluminum headset a daunting prospect:

“You’re supposed to wear this thing on your face for long periods of computer time, and depending on which strap and light seal you use, the headset alone weighs between 600 and 650 grams. I keep joking that the Vision Pro is an iPad for your face, but it’s heavier than an iPad The 11-inch Pro (470g) comes close to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (682g), so in a very real way, it’s an iPad for your face.

Mark Spoonauer  , of Tom’s Guide,  found  the battery pack to be one of the most annoying things:

“You have to have the aluminum battery on the Vision Pro always with you to use the headset, which isn’t great. So you’ll need to put it in your pocket while standing or next to you while sitting. At 12.4 ounces, it’s heavier than the iPhone 15 Pro Max (7.8 ounces) Although the cord is long enough most of the time, if you are truly immersed in a game or other experience and move suddenly, you may accidentally pull the battery off the table or sofa onto the floor.

“I’m also not a fan of how the battery cord gets a little tangled sometimes. A few times I had to disconnect the cable to get it straight,” he added.

Cnet’s  Scott Stein said  Vision Pro was  a “stunning look at the future  ,” including one envisioned in science fiction:

“Apple also expects Vision Pro to be a place where you can see all the moments of your life, reliving them like a scene from the movie Minority Report. I tried watching recorded “spatial videos,” which are 3D videos I had previously shot on the iPhone 15 Pro. Plays 3D videos and images recorded directly with Vision Pro, which has its own cameras.

“The quality of 3D photos and videos isn’t as good as Apple’s stunning 180-degree video format, not even close. But when it’s expanded into a fuzzy-bordered viewing mode, it starts to feel like a memory being replayed. Back to the holidays, “To the Museum of Natural History, to a hot dinner with a friend in San Francisco, to a snowball fight with my child. I began to forget where I was and imagined that I could walk in this moment.”

Apple Vision Pro

Stein said the Vision Pro was the best wearable display ever, but it was still a tough sell in its current form.

“Given its price, and with very few VisionOS apps available at launch, the Vision Pro is not a device I would recommend to any of my friends or family. If you’re in the immersive industry and can afford it, that’s another story. But for everyone else, I’d recommend getting Get a free demo in the Apple Store, enjoy its features, and wait and see.

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