Some media have already been able to try Apple’s Vision. We have read all the tests to condense the general opinion for you.
No more rumours, make way for (augmented) reality! At WWDC 2023, Apple introduced the Vision Pro, its first augmented reality headset with a ski goggle design. On site, a few journalists had the opportunity to test this long-awaited device. As we are not one of the privileged few, we have gone around the first impressions to extract the substantive marrow.
A top-notch AR headset… but an AR headset nonetheless
The first contact with the helmet (after going through vision control) is of course its design. All in glass, aluminum and fabric, the Vision Pro seduces at first sight. There was no doubt on the part of Apple, especially for a product at 3500 dollars excluding taxes, the finishes are exemplary and everything is very pleasant once in place on the head.
However, despite this care, the Vision Pro does not escape the pitfalls of its category. Nilay Patel of The Verge, for example, states that “the adjustable headband definitely blew my hairwhile Engadget’s Devindra Hardawar points out that “the helmet exerts a slight pressure on the eyes and around the nose […] you probably won’t forget you’re wearing it“.
With less than a pound on the scale (450 grams), barely less than the Meta Quest 3, the Vision Pro is according to all testers “the best AR/VR experience“. This is all the more true since the initialization automatically adjusts the focus of the eyes, quickly and transparently.
The Verge nevertheless points to a point that should be kept in mind: “Apple’s M2 and R1 processors […] generate a good amount of heat“. So, of course, it is evacuated by an air circulation system from bottom to top, but it will be necessary to test on long sessions in the middle of summer to ensure that it remains comfortable in all circumstances.
A well-thought-out immersion
Once the helmet is on, we find ourselves immersed… In the same world as before, but through screens. “The highest definition VR screen I’ve ever seen“says The Verge. “I had a clear view of my surroundingsadds Engadget. So much so that one can easily read:text is crisp and readable at all sizes and distancessays Matthew Panzarino of Tech Crunch. Above all, no one raises having distinguished the pixel grid… even if no one has specified the opposite either.
What helps this immersion is not only the quality of the screen, but also the absence of latency. It becomes possible to live with a headset on your head without constraint: chatting with people, writing on your phone… it’s possible. This is reminiscent of the transparency mode of the AirPods which made possible the discussion with headphones.
The Verge nevertheless raises a few points to correct. “I clearly saw black in my peripheral vision, the Vision Pro is not as immersive as the marketing videos make it out to be“. In addition, there are still some compression artifacts at times, as well as a loss of detail on poorly lit faces.
As in Minority Report
The array of sensors on board the Vision Pro allows it to be perfectly aware of its environment. It thus displays in your content a person who approaches you and controls himself by simple gestures. And if the image has been worn down since 2002, Engadget says it felt like Minority Report. For once, we believe it.
All feedback is unanimous, navigating the Vision Pro interface is very intuitive. It’s like touching the screen of your iPhone or iPad. Selecting something on the screen is done by pinching your thumb and index finger and does not require pointing at the screen. Yes, you can keep your hands on your knees and stay a “couch potatoif you wish (no judgment, we’ve all done it at least once).
All that for mixed reality?
Undoubtedly, the Vision Pro is a technical success and it manages to justify its exorbitant price. It remains to be seen in use, which is difficult to really determine in half an hour with the helmet on your head. Yet this is where the doubts are the highest.
Admittedly, the navigation in the interface works, the icons stand out well and it is natural. But what are the real uses? Calls on FaceTime for example, through “personas“supposed to represent us are”both impressive and profoundly strangeaccording to The Verge. For some, we are right in the valley of the strange (the “uncanny valley“), for others, it is a great achievement “not giving the impression of being creepy or weird“. “It’s still better than a Zoom call” nevertheless.
As for the other experiences, it’s actually… a mixed reality headset. Admittedly, an excellent headset, clearly superior to its competition, but in the end it does not really do more than a Meta Quest.
Of course, the demos were limited on site and it will therefore be necessary to wait for real tests to know if it is really a revolution in computing or a simple gadget for wealthy geeks. See you in 2024.
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