Apple Vision Pro Review: Tomorrow's Ideas... Today's Tech!

Apple Vision Pro Review: Tomorrow's Ideas... Today's Tech!

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- I actually love this thing. I love this thing, not because it's flawless or anything, it is far from flawless, but because it's actually interesting. Like, don't forget the last two, three years of Apple Product review comments are just, "That's boring, oh, it's just a spec bump, there's nothing really new here, oh, they hardly change anything or try anything new these days." But this, this thing is interesting.

It's risky, and most of all, it's new. Now, it's actually not fundamentally new, it's a VR headset, but it's new for Apple. And there are a bunch of things in here that are new in a way that only Apple would try. And just as interesting as this individual product is the possible future that this implies. Like, when you get a first generation product like this, you sort of automatically assume that there are goals for its future, that it'll have another generation and another one after that, and that there is some goal for what this will turn into 10 years down the road because we saw what happened with the iPhone and the Mac and the iPad and all sorts of other first generation products.

And on top of all of that, as far as I know, Apple has never released any other first generation product with the word Pro already in the name, which comes with a whole nother set of implications. So is the world ready for all of this? Let's get into it. (upbeat music) So I might be one of the 20 people outside of Apple who has been using the Vision Pro the most over the past two weeks. Like, I've spent hours in this thing with both bands, with multiple Macs, in different setups, different rooms, indoors and outdoors, lightness and darkness. There are parts of this thing that are absolutely amazing, unparalleled, best I've ever seen.

But the reason it's so interesting is because it's actually new and there are downfalls and flaws and trade-offs that come alongside all of this stuff. So at the end of the last video, I gave you guys a sort of a preview of my pros and cons list. If you haven't already watched that video, it is definitely worth watching, almost like a prequel to this one.

It is a 30 minute monster all about how to use this thing, how it works, what's inside, what it's capable of. And then, at the end, I got to my upsides, which are immersiveness, placement and space, eye tracking and hand control, passthrough, ecosystem, and spatial audio. And the downsides, which are weight and comfort, the eyes on the outside, app selection right now, battery life, and price. So, okay, for starters, I wanna amend immersiveness to fidelity, I think that's more accurate here.

I have used a bunch of different VR headsets now, and this Vision Pro has the sharpest, best looking micro-OLED display out of all of them. The size of individual pixels on these displays is seven and a half microns, which means you could fit 64 of them in the size of a single iPhone screen's pixel. You can't see individual pixels, there's no screen door effect, it's awesome. The native refresh rate is 90 hertz and it will crank up to 96 hertz when there's 24 FPS content playing to be an even multiple. And Apple says that they calibrate every single one of these Vision Pro displays from the factory for maximum color accuracy.

They're really good, and this is a big reason why this headset is so expensive. But then, and this is gonna be a recurring theme here, the Vision Pro runs up against the technology of today not being quite advanced enough to accomplish what they were probably hoping as ideal. So in the case of these screens, right, they're amazing, there are so many pixels, but because there's so many pixels, the computer inside cannot actually render everything in high resolution all the time at 90 Hertz. So instead, it does something clever.

It combines the insanely fast eye tracking with what's called foveated rendering, meaning, it's only actually rendering in high resolution exactly what you're looking at when you're looking at it. The rest is soft and fuzzy. That actually works really well because that's exactly how our eyes work.

It's really clever, like you don't think about it, but the thing that you're looking at at the moment is sharp, but then the rest of your peripheral vision is soft and fuzzy, and that's fine. So really, now, all of the computing work is being done to track your eyes as fast as possible so that there's no lag between when you look at something and when it becomes sharp. Fun fact, you can actually see this in screen recordings from the Vision Pro. You can see the piece of the screen that I'm looking at is sharp, and then everything else around it, even parts of the same window are fuzzy on purpose. But to my eye, that looks totally natural because I'm focusing on one thing at a time.

I found that you can also screen record with developer mode in Xcode, and that'll make the clips 4K and it'll render everything in HQ all at once. But every time I did that, it would be choppy and scrolling would be slow and jittery. And I'm thinking that's just because the computers aren't really used to rendering everything in high quality all the time. So it looks like a higher quality recording, but the second I did any scrolling, it didn't look as good, so I just didn't use those recordings as often. So the screens are great, the position tracking of objects and space are great, the eye tracking is incredibly good. The one ding against immersion on the Vision Pro though, and not a lot of people are talking about this, but it's the field of view.

See, the first few times you use this headset, you don't even really think about it that much. You're so distracted by all the fun and the newness and how cool it is that your eyes are controlling the thing. But eventually, you start to poke around the edges and it turns out, you know how people are saying it kind of looks like ski goggles from the outside? Well, it also kind of looks like ski goggles from the inside a little bit too.

Again, the middle is super sharp and incredibly impressive, but if I can do my best here through a YouTube video, the edges of the headset are a little bit further in than the edges of your vision. And so, there's a little bit of like a cone effect going on and there's some chromatic aberration around the outside. So you kind of have this slight feeling of looking into a large tunnel at everything. There are actually no field of view numbers published by Apple anywhere about Vision Pro, as far as I can tell, and I kind of think that's on purpose because I have noticed from using them both that the Quest 3 has a better, wider field of view just looking inside the headset.

So if I could change one thing about the Vision Pro to make it more immersive, it would be a wider field of view, no question. (upbeat music) Vision Pro has the best passthrough of any headset I've ever used, that much is super clear to me, and weirdly enough, this doesn't actually surprise me either. Maybe because this is one of the products that makes it so obvious that they're thinking a lot about the future, like Apple talks a lot about AR and how they want things to just be clear and just overlaying things onto your real world. But with today's technology, again, that's not quite possible yet. So instead they have a VR headset, but they are using the highest quality camera feeds possible and the highest quality displays on the inside possible to let you almost feel like you're looking through it at the real world. So you put this headset on, and the first thing you see is passthrough, I mean, you might as well call it transparency mode.

And the sharpness and the colors and the very low latency are all so good that I really don't experience any eye fatigue, no matter how long I am in this passthrough mode, despite my eyes being inches from these screens, I can interact with the real world around me, pick things up and look at them, I can walk around, between rooms and not trip on things. I tried having people throw things at me and I could just catch them. I played table tennis successfully with the headset on, which is crazy if you think about what's actually happening here.

The total latency Apple says is 12 milliseconds, that's from the outside light hitting the outside sensors to the inside image being updated and hitting your eyeballs, that's incredibly fast, and that includes the exposure time of the cameras. That's the specially designed R1 chip at work. But, as Nilay from The Verge has put it, it's still cameras and screens, like the technology of today isn't magic. So you still have to expose a camera sensor and set ISO and shutter speed, et cetera, and you can kind of play around with this a bit just by looking around like at bright objects or high dynamic range environments. And you know what, for the variety of situations I've thrown at this thing, it's handled it very impressively the whole time, mostly prioritizing smoothness and high shutter speeds at the expense of cranking up the ISO and getting way more noise, especially in darker environments. But you can still see stuff like the hand occlusion breaks sometimes or look really janky when you put your hand in front of something.

You can still see objects start to float a little bit more in X, Y, and Z space when you're in much lower lighting, as opposed to the usual perfect position. Again, it's the best I've ever seen with today's tech, but it definitely still has a long way to go. (upbeat music) So honestly, the ecosystem is, I would say, the strongest argument for a regular person going out and buying today's version of the Vision Pro. Like, every time a new big product comes out or whatever, I get like texts from people, "Oh hey, Marques, you know, I know you already made like a 30 minute video about it and like unboxed it and did all that, but like what do you really think about the Vision Pro? Like, is it good enough? Should I get one?" And, truthfully, probably not.

But I will say that there are a good amount of things that I do specifically look forward to using for it, and most of those things are ecosystem related. So obviously there's the built-in apps, right? iMessage works perfectly, just like any iPhone or iPad on your account, photos are all loaded up in here straight from your iPhone. This is clearly the headset that is best for iPhone users, Apple ecosystem people, but also, little things too, like continuity.

So I can copy some text on my Mac or my iPhone and then hit Paste and it shows up in the Vision Pro. But there's two really impressive ones to me for very different specific reasons, FaceTime and Mac Virtual Display. See, FaceTime is the most only Apple could ship this thing I've seen in a long time.

From the personas scanned in from the cameras on the front of the headset to the positional tracking and responsiveness of the spatial audio, it's all so well thought out that, you know, once everyone on the call gets past the initial like, "Ah, what is this?" The shock, the moment they first see the virtual version of you, once they first get past that, then it actually kind of slowly gets easier and it feels way more like a normal conversation than a normal FaceTime. And it trades the downside of not being able to hold up objects to your camera for a button that can switch to a real time first person view where you can use both hands instead of one. Does the audio from these speakers still bleed out into the rest of the world so anything over half volume is incredibly audible to everyone in the room around you? Yeah, but does it also still sound really, really impressive for not actually being real headphones? Yeah. But the other thing is Mac Virtual Display. This is my number one favorite feature of the Vision Pro, even over like watching movies and stuff. Now, first of all, yes, you can already do remote desktop viewing on something like a Quest 3, it's great, I love that too.

But this one is way more interesting. So this is connecting to your Mac and then intaking and re-rendering a new virtual display for your Mac, not mirroring what's already being shown by your computer. So you can use your Mac with all of its existing controls you're already using with it, but make your new monitor literally as big as you want. And then, you can open up simultaneous Vision Pro apps all around that Mac display and place them all around the room wherever you want, over the walls, floating in midair, pin them to other objects, whatever, you can go nuts. Now, is this perfect? No, there are definitely trade-offs. From even the little things, like not being able to see your keyboard when you're in an immersive environment, to only being able to have a single virtual Mac monitor at a time, to always having to look where you're controlling, I keep telling you guys, there's definitely extra brain cycles involved here.

But I do still think that, despite all that, this is my number one favorite feature of this Vision Pro. The number one thing that you can buy it for and do that you couldn't do with any other Apple product. I mean, it's the difference between looking like this in a coffee shop or looking like this in a coffee shop. Pick your poison, I guess.

I also had a moment where I was using the Vision Pro for a while and I had my Mac and some other monitors around me, and then I took it off and then I went and did something and then I came back, and before I put the headset back on, I looked up at the wall to where I thought a window was gonna be, but I hadn't, I hadn't... I don't know if that says more about the headset or about me. (upbeat music) But speaking of apps, we gotta get into the weaknesses. And the app situation on Vision Pro right now is one of them. So this is the home screen of the Vision Pro, it has all of your apps, you can't rearrange them, it's always alphabetical.

And this is a developing situation that will record and improve over time, but as of right now, as I record this on launch day, there are literally 600 apps made for the Vision Pro. And that sounds like a lot at first, but then kind of not a lot. There are also the millions of other apps that are made for the iPad that are compatible with the Vision Pro that will show up. But there's 600 apps made specifically for the Vision Pro. The few apps that are showing up here are pretty incredible, and they all kind of find unique and creative ways to take advantage of the 3D space.

And I fully believe the rest of the developers are also kind of still trying to figure out what to do with the 3D space in their own apps, or even if it makes sense to do anything at all beyond the normal iPad app. But at this point right now today, I honestly believe that there are way more cool ideas about VR and AR experiences than there are actual apps. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some cool apps, and like I said, I've shown some in the past video, there are some more in this video and there will be more of them pop up every day.

But have you seen that video of gamifying vacuum cleaning so that you can actually cover your entire floor space like a game? It's not a real app, but if it was, it would be pretty sick and I would totally use it. Or maybe you've seen that other video of watching an F1 race in Vision Pro, it is so sick, it's like there's a virtual track overlaid into your space so you can keep track of everything happening at once, plus the times and, you know, smaller video feeds of the battles around different points of the track. This looks genuinely better than the actual TV broadcast experience, but it's also not a real app yet, it's just a concept.

And I've seen all kinds of other stuff and I wanna watch an NBA game court side in the Vision Pro too, but that experience doesn't seem to exist yet either. Whatever it is about like Apple jumping into this new space and all the implications of like, oh, okay, the tech is gonna start to get better now, this sort of unlocked this new creative layer for people to dream of new AR and VR experiences, and it'll be up to developers to actually make that stuff happen over time, with the constraints of today's technology. But as of right now, not a lot of apps, also, no YouTube app, no Netflix app, there's no Spotify app, there's no TikTok app yet. I hope that Apple can sort of patch up the relationship with these developers because getting those apps will make this a better product. But as of right now, that is definitely a weakness of this first gen product. (upbeat music) All right, I'm not the only one who's been saying this, but this is not the most comfortable headset and I figured out why.

So first of all, everyone's mentioned the weight, and it's true, it does weigh like 25% more than a lot of other headsets. Like, take the Quest 3, for example, probably the most popular one, familiar to most people, that's mostly plastic and it weighs 515 grams. So Vision Pro being made of metal and having all this glass, weighing in at nearly 650 grams, it kind of seems like Apple just didn't care about the weight. But I don't think that's the case.

Matter of fact, if you've seen the tear downs or if you've seen what's inside this little computer here on your face, this is built incredibly efficiently. There's carbon fiber in here, magnesium, all sorts of other lightweight materials. Now there's still lots of obvious heft on it, but 25% more weight shouldn't be the difference between comfortable and, like, I need to do neck exercises. No, the problem is this strap, this is the Solo Knit strap, this is the strap that's in all the commercials that everybody sees. This is what's on Apple's website, it's in all the Apple stores because it looks so cool. And I think when Apple was probably first deciding, okay, we are gonna get into this VR headset market, how do we differentiate ourselves? We gotta reinvent a few things, like the input method and all this stuff.

I think they thought the strap had to be one of them, and that's how we got this thing. And I think Dave2D was spot on in his recent video, VR headsets just kind of all look dumb, and the straps on them are all so universally lame looking. And this strap is just so much cooler, you put it on, it's the quickest to adjust, it messes up your hair the least. It obviously has this little adjustment thing on the outside so you can scroll this wheel and satisfyingly like tighten the cables inside like this. This must have taken a lot of R&D to get this thing to look iconic and actually be functional, this is sick.

But when you put it on, you sort of tighten it up against the front of your face and it's squeezing it up against your face, all of the weight, up at the front against basically these two pressure points, right above your eyes and right on your cheeks. And the more you tighten it to prevent light leak, the more uncomfortable it gets. And it's just, it's so hard to wear this for more than about 30, 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, I really do need to take this off. So it's not your neck as much as it's just all the pressure on the front of your face. And Apple knows this, and that's why they've included in the box this second band, this is the dual loop band, and it's super easy to pop this one off and pop this one on. Now it's not as cool looking as a Solo Knit Band, and it's going to mess up your hair more than a Solo Knit Band, and it's not as easy to adjust as a Solo Knit Band. You're literally like trying to find and attach Velcro blindly at the top of your head. Basically, it's almost as lame looking as every other VR headset strap.

But it turns out they all look like this for a reason, and oh my God, is it so much better for wearing it for a long time. I just recently did the last episode of the "Waveform Podcast", you can go subscribe over there. I wore the headset for the entire thing, a two hour recording, and I could never have done that with the Solo Knit Band, and that's because it's taking a ton of the pressure off of the front of your face and taking the weight and using the top of your head to support it instead. It's so much better. So if you're gonna just hand the headset to someone to use it for like five minutes, the Solo Knit Band is great 'cause it's super quick, doesn't mess up their hair, easy to adjust, boom. But if you plan on using this thing for an extensive period of time, yeah, the dual loop band is 100% the way to go.

(upbeat music) So I don't know if the eyes on the outside of this headset are actually accomplishing what Apple probably wanted them to accomplish. I think this, again, comes down to what we expect Vision Pro to be in the future, see through glasses, way down the line. But that's obviously not possible with today's tech, so the closest we can get is a lenticular display that shows your eyes to the outside world, and so that you can see them and they can kind of see you. I don't know, at this point, I've tried my eyes, but also everyone else here at the studio has also scanned themselves in and tried EyeSight, and it's just not very visible.

Like, the smooth glass of the headset is so incredibly reflective that there's almost always some light bouncing off it in a way that makes the eyes hard to see. And even if you can see it, it's pretty low resolution, thanks to the lenticular display, and the bottom line is it doesn't actually feel like eye contact most of the time, which is very different from what you might have seen in the ads, especially for darker skin tones. And I was actually thinking about this like, this is so far from what I think I expected that I was wondering, does Apple in the next generation Vision Pro double down on EyeSight or do they get rid of it? And I think they have to keep it, like it's such an iconic part of the headset that everyone's expecting it to stay, so it's gotta be there. But also, this is Vision Pro and I think that implies that we're gonna get Apple Vision at some point down the road, which is like a less expensive version of this. And with that, do you take out EyeSight or does that still appear in the lower end version? I don't know, only time will tell.

(upbeat music) So, all right, look, at the end of the day, when I'm answering those texts about what do people wanna know what I really think about Vision Pro, I think the Vision Pro is a really expensive, really fun toy. Like, this is an incredibly fun piece of tech to play with, and I am loving watching the pieces of media built specifically for Vision Pro, I am loving playing some of the new early games that are taking advantage of the 3D space and the hand controls, I am loving the idea of getting on a plane and editing videos on my Mac or watching a movie on a gigantic screen while the person next to me can't see any of what I'm doing. That stuff is all so sick. And if you're actually thinking about buying one, I think you should be able to expect to enjoy all of that same stuff too. But definitely still note that all of the symptoms of a first generation product are definitely also still here. It's heavy, it's not a lot of apps, the battery life is meh and it's expensive.

So here's the bigger question, is the Vision Pro a guaranteed success in the future? Because the first generation iPhone had all of the same downfalls in its generation, and look at where we are now. So, also, same with the watch, same with the iPad. But here's the thing, you can't just say the other stuff had problems and it became successful, therefore, this one having problems also means it's successful. It doesn't work that way, there has to be something about this that people actually like that makes 'em willing to overlook the first generation downfalls.

And I think this has it, I think it has, I honestly, it's kind of just the sci-fi, fun nature of like controlling things with your hands, moving windows around the room, the sci-fi movie energy, you've seen it, you're probably already thinking of a certain movie that has that sort of energy, this has that. And the fact that these ideas of what people wanna do in VR are so universally well liked and so cool, that means that there's something here, there's something that people want, even in this first generation. Now, will all this new attention on VR headsets in general shine a lot of light on all of the other much cheaper competitors that you should probably buy instead of this one, like the $500 Quest 3? Yeah.

Now, will all this new developer attention in this VR/AR space bring a lot of way cooler, way more awesome applications that will rapidly improve the value proposition of this $3,500 first gen headset? Yeah. Should you go out and buy one of these if you've got the money and you saw one or two really cool looking apps that you wanna try from the videos? Sure, why not? It's your money. But I'm already very excited for the next generation. Thanks for watching.

Catch you guys in the next one, peace. (bright music)

2024-02-05 16:14

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