Blake DeRossi

On June 5 of last year, tech giant Apple announced their newest I.P. release since the Apple Watch in 2015. The highly anticipated and widely speculated device is a mixed reality headset affectionately named the “Vision Pro,” which was released on Feb. 2. For those who are looking at this and saying “what is mixed reality?” here is a shortened insight into this technology. Mixed reality is the combination of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). VR is the full immersion into a 3D environment provided by a computer, and is experienced by the user of a headset device, while AR overlays virtual elements and scenes into the real world using high-definition cameras. Apple’s headset will be able to seamlessly blend the virtual world with your own space. It is going to accomplish this by using their brand new in-house R1 and M2 chipset. These incredible chips will be able to power two displays with strong resolution in each eye. For example, imagine being able to watch a movie in your room on a 200-inch screen, and when you get bored of seeing your room, you can simply turn a dial on top of the headset to transport you to a lunar landscape or a mountain peak at Yosemite National Park. However, among all of the innovations that Apple is making with the release of this headset, there are downsides to the experience as well. Are you going to enjoy aluminum and glass strapped to your head? We are going to dive into the good, the bad and the ugly of the Vision Pro.

Let’s first start with the good sides of this device. This is the first time that Apple is pursuing immersive technologies. In their usual fashion, they have created a sleek and futuristic design with advanced elements to boot. The ways in which you interact with the virtual world are incredibly intuitive. Apple has implemented head and eye tracking to accommodate a multitude of input methods. The eye tracking will also be used for personal identification through their new “OpticID” which will scan the retina of the user in order to verify your identity and give access to the device. Additionally, you can scan your face with the Vision Pro’s array of advanced cameras in order to generate a 3D representation of your likeness that matches even the most nuanced facial expressions. This “Persona” is able to make FaceTime calls with other Vision Pro users or with non-VR users who will see your avatar on their screens, and this allows for a more connected feeling when you may feel isolated in the headset. Multi-tasking is another one of Apple’s big pitches to early adopters of their headset. Being able to have multiple screens surround you with different content on each screen is very attractive for large companies trying to increase productivity across the board.

Next, the bad. The Apple Vision Pro is one of the most innovative and advanced pieces of technology in the past decade. This does not make up for the fact that the user experience can be seen as uncomfortable. Comparing the Vision Pro’s weight to its main competition the Meta Quest 3 is startling. Apple’s device weighs in at up to 650 grams, while the Quest 3 sits at 515 grams. Many early testers of the Vision Pro stated that the headset felt considerably heavier than the average VR and AR headsets of the time. Bloomberg correspondent Mark Gurman has noted that “many” of the testers have found the Vision Pro to be “too heavy” after many hours of constant use. Another downside to this device is anything but optimal battery life. The Vision Pro uses an external battery pack that you wear on your body, and Apple quotes an estimated two hours of continuous media consumption. Companies who are looking to use these devices for productivity and multitasking may be limited by the short battery life and will require either a fully tethered power connection, or multiple of Apple’s battery packs utilizing the ability to hot swap.

Lastly, here are the ugly sides of the Apple Vision Pro. Most of you reading this may notice the potential for this device to be incredible for both entertainment and productivity. Along with its many technological advancements there comes a burning question. How much is Apple going to charge for this industry leading headset? Knowing Apple, it’s not going to be cheap and seeing that it’s in the “ugly” category of this column piece … this can’t be good. Starting at a low price of $3,500, this device can be all yours. That’s more than 10 times the price of an Oculus Quest, one of the most popular VR headsets in the market. And that’s not all. If you wear glasses, you will need to buy customized prescription lenses from optics company Zeiss for an additional $100. But wait, there’s more! If you want to create your own spatial videos, which is one of the most pushed features of this product, to watch on the Vision Pro, you will need an iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max. This is going to run you an extra $1,000, leading to this device being an expensive first release for Apple.

Blake DeRossi is a sophomore majoring in economics.

Views expressed in the opinions pages represent the opinions of the columnists. The only piece which represents the views of the Pipe Dream Editorial Board is the Staff Editorial.