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Apple Vision Pro

The Vision Pro packs some impressive tech. But it’s far from perfect, reviewers say. Credit: Apple

Apple’s Vision Pro could very well be the most important new product Apple will launch this decade. It’s a whole new product category for Apple, with a new, accompanying software platform called visionOS and an app ecosystem to match.

It’s no wonder, then, that Apple has been extremely careful about how it handles this launch. The company invited only a handful of journalists for in-person briefings, and handed out review units to an even smaller group of people, whose embargoes for the review lifted on Tuesday.

The resulting reviews paint a (very) cautiously optimistic picture of the Vision Pro’s future. All of the reviewers praise the tech – CNET’s Scott Stein calls it a “mind-blowing look at an unfinished future,” while The Verge’s Nilay Patel calls it “magic,” but warns that “the technology to build a true optical AR display that works well enough to replace an everyday computer just isn’t there yet.”

Perhaps the most important takeaway is that there’s just so much to cover about the Vision Pro. There’s the display tech, the sensors, the user interface, the comfort, the weight, the accessories — the list goes on. There’s also so much this thing can do; you could use the Vision Pro as an everyday work machine (or a virtual extension of your physical computer), or it could just be an entertainment device, a social device, or a gaming gadget. Finally, there’s also the matter of the exorbitant price, and the question of what comes after.

This is why we decided to distill these early reviews into a couple of key points that everyone has a strong opinion on. It will take some time until we get a clear picture of what the Vision Pro really is and who it’s for, but for now, here’s what appears certain.

1. The tech is amazing

There’s no two ways about it: All of the reviewers praise some aspect of the ingenuity Apple’s engineers put into the Vision Pro. The displays are incredibly sharp, the passthrough video feed of the world looks great and has very little visible latency, and the hand-eye control interface is impressive.

According to Stein, the Vision Pro is “the best wearable display” he ever used, and he wrote the display quality and the interface “make the Vision Pro feel like it’s in a whole other class.”

“It’s the sort of first-generation device only Apple can really make, from the incredible display and passthrough engineering, to the use of the whole ecosystem to make it so seamlessly useful,” wrote Patel.

2. It’s heavy, and it will get uncomfortable after long sessions

We know the exact weight of the Vision Pro (21.2 – 22.9 ounces, or 600 – 650 grams, depending on the configuration, which doesn’t include the 353g battery). But now, thanks to these early reviews, we also have an idea of how it feels to wear the Vision Pro on your head for several hours. The consensus is that it’s not great.

“After half an hour the headset feels top-heavy,” wrote Stein, referring to the setup with the Solo Knit headband. The Dual Loop band is “a better fit for long work sessions.” YouTuber Marques Brownlee said the Vision Pro with Solo Knit might get “a little uncomfortable,” though he also said the weight distribution is better with the Dual Loop band. But the Dual Loop messes your hair up, and is less comfortable according to Patel. Either way, it’s a heavy device to be wearing on your head for hours. “You’re just going to feel it after a while,” wrote Patel.

3. Personas are…not great.

Personas are Vision Pro’s virtual representations of its users, and while they are more impressive than the stuff Meta came up with, they’re still quite weird. Patel called them “deeply weird and extremely uncanny,” and CNBC’s Todd Haselton said his Persona looked “like a much older version” of him.

The good news? Apple officially considers Personas to be beta software, so we can expect some improvements here.

4. The Vision Pro’s best use might actually be the simplest one: viewing videos

Yearning to just disappear into some virtual landscape and watch a high-resolution movie on a massive virtual display? The Vision Pro might be for you, because, apparently, this works very well.

According to Patel, watching movies on the Vision Pro is a “ton of fun,” and Stein said the experience of watching movies with the Vision Pro was “better than any TV” he had in his house.

Even better, 3D movies work too, and by the sound of it, they look better than what you’d get in a cinema. “It sometimes gives me chills,” wrote Stein.

5. The floating keyboard isn’t very usable yet

This is hardly a surprise, but reviewers say that the Vision Pro’s floating, virtual keyboard you can theoretically type on with your actual hand is barely usable.

Apple Vision Pro

The virtual keyboard works, but you won’t be typing novels on it. Credit: Apple

“The floating keyboard is useful for search or typing quick messages, but you won’t be able to type very fast at first. You look at each letter on a digital keyboard and select it, or reach out and tap the digital keyboard. I got faster during my time with the Vision Pro, but nowhere near as quick as I am on my iPhone or a real keyboard,” wrote Haselton.

Patel wasn’t as kind to the virtual keyboard, calling it “hilarious” and “not worth using for anything beyond entering a Wi-Fi password.”

6. EyeSight is a dud

EyeSight, the display that’s placed on the front of the Vision Pro’s goggles to display a virtual representation of your actual eyes, apparently only looks good in Apple’s promo photos. Stein pointed out that the people who saw it didn’t “know what to make of it,” while Patel wrote that “the idea that you’ll be making real eye contact with anyone is a fantasy.” Several reviewers use the word “uncanny,” and not in a good way. EyeSight, so it appears, needs to be improved by a lot, otherwise it will just be spooking people around you.

“In real life, I just removed the headset face when my wife came in to chat,” wrote Haselton.

7. You’re still very far removed from reality

The passthrough video keeps you tethered to the real world, and EyeSight does make it a little easier for others to communicate with you. But make no mistake, while wearing the Vision Pro, you’ll still mostly be alone, deep into your virtual world.

“I watch movies with AirPod Pro buds in, turning my living room into a movie theater. After a while my son taps me on the shoulder and asks if I’m asleep. I say of course not. But my wife says she doesn’t like this, that I’m so removed from everything. My son calls it a phone for my face,” wrote Stein. And Patel points out that there’s no way to share your experience with other people. “Two people in Vision Pro headsets sitting in the same room can’t see the same things floating in space at the same time,” he wrote, though he did note that some developers are working on experiences with shared views.

Bottom line: You put the Vision Pro on, and you’re mostly AFR — away from reality. We just made that acronym up, and we really hope it doesn’t become a thing.

8. The device is mostly a glimpse of what is possible, but it might take years and several iterations to get there

Literally none of the reviewers say that this is a device most people, or even most Apple users, or even most enthusiasts, should buy. Instead, everyone agrees that, while impressive, the Vision Pro is something you should consider only if you don’t mind the $3,499 starting cost at all, because the Vision Pro won’t be replacing your phone, tablet, MacBook Pro, or even your gaming VR headset. It’s incredibly powerful and very interesting, but there’s no killer feature in there just yet. As Stein put it, “it’s clearly not a device you need to get on board with now.”

Stan Schroeder

Apple Vision Pro reviews are in: Here are 8 key takeaways

Stan is a Senior Editor at Mashable, where he has worked since 2007. He’s got more battery-powered gadgets and band t-shirts than you. He writes about the next groundbreaking thing. Typically, this is a phone, a coin, or a car. His ultimate goal is to know something about everything.

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The post Apple Vision Pro reviews are in: Here are 8 key takeaways first appeared on mashable.com

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