Is the pricey Apple Vision Pro worth it?

When the Apple Vision Pro works perfectly, it feels like real sci-fi magic. All my usual apps float in front of me, and I can effortlessly move them around my office like Tony Stark, seeing much more at once than I can on a monitor. When I finish working for the day, I bring my headset to the couch and enter my personal movie theater, making my OLED TV seem tiny by comparison. Somewhere between these moments, I’m constructing 3D puzzles, stargazing, and getting my heart rate up with rhythm-based gaming, fluidly transitioning from app to app in a way that even the best VR headsets can’t match.

Considering all these experiences, the Vision Pro’s hefty $3,500 price tag starts to seem a bit less outrageous. However, the high cost isn’t the only caveat, and even early adopters with deep pockets will need to consider if they’re willing to deal with occasional software glitches, heavy hardware, and the potential inconvenience of using it in a busy household.

So, is the Apple Vision Pro worth it, given the money and potential trade-offs? Here are my thoughts after spending two weeks working, playing, watching movies, and essentially living in Apple’s long-awaited headset.

I’ve been testing VR headsets since the original Oculus Rift in 2016, and the Vision Pro is by far the most frictionless, “it just works” experience I’ve had. There’s no lengthy setup, no need to manually map out your space, and no cumbersome controllers—you just put it on and follow a few basic steps similar to setting up any other new Apple device. I loved that I essentially just needed my iPhone to get logged in; after that, all my messages, photos, and notes were synced and ready to be experienced in this new reality.

Despite some frustrating hiccups, the Vision Pro’s combination of eye and hand tracking is incredibly intuitive: you look at something to highlight it and pinch your fingers to interact. Moving apps around in 3D space like floating sheets of paper and closing them with a quick pinch became second nature. Unlike my Meta Quest 3, which can only run two apps at a time and often suffers from long load times, the Vision Pro launched apps instantly and let me fill my apartment with them without a hint of slowdown. Even Siri shines here, allowing me to open and close apps with just my voice, adding to the headset’s futuristic appeal.

Creating my dream workspace with apps like Slack, Discord, Safari, Messages, and Music surrounding me like I was in the Batcave felt like living in the future promised by sci-fi films. If there’s one reason to justify the Vision Pro’s steep price, it’s the movie-watching experience. This headset offers the most immersive entertainment experience I’ve tried, with better-than-4K resolution and numerous apps optimized to make you feel like you’re in your personal theater.

The Apple TV app impressed me the most, allowing me to enjoy the new season of “Halo” in stunning detail within an immersive, darkened space. I could choose where to “sit” in the virtual theater, from floor seats to balcony views, giving me flexibility in how big of a virtual screen I wanted. The Disney+ app was also a delight, allowing me to catch “The Marvels” in 3D in a detailed recreation of Avengers Tower. Even basic apps like Sling TV shone on Vision Pro, letting me watch All Elite Wrestling on a giant screen while having a floating Discord window nearby to chat about the show live.

The Vision Pro’s visual capabilities are backed by impressive spatial audio speakers that made me feel like I had the best headphones on. Gunfire in the “Halo” show seemed to come from all directions, and listening to Turnstile’s “Glow On” in Dolby Atmos on Apple Music felt like being at a live show. The headset also promises low-latency lossless audio for those with the latest AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C, and pairing my AirPods to the headset was as simple as with other Apple devices.

The Vision Pro worked fine as my main work device, with Slack and multiple Safari windows floating in front of me. However, my multitasking setup truly came together when I paired it with my Mac. The Vision Pro’s Mac Virtual Display feature lets you bring a giant, resizable virtual 4K monitor into your Vision Pro workspace. Built on the same Universal Control tech that lets you work across Mac and iPad with a single keyboard and trackpad, it allowed me to seamlessly jump between my Mac display and VisionOS apps with the same input devices.

This feature solved one of my biggest problems with the Vision Pro: using iPadOS apps in a 3D space, which can be janky. With my Mac display in the mix, I could type up stories and check email efficiently while having complementary apps floating around me. I wish the Mac Virtual Display allowed multiple virtual monitors, but using Mac and Vision apps in harmony was nearly as good as a true multi-display setup.

The Vision Pro also helped me focus better, as I was less tempted to check my phone or wander around my apartment. This immersive environment kept my brain on task, whether working or watching movies. The gaming selection on Vision Pro is currently thin but shows plenty of potential. I enjoyed games like “What the Golf?” and “A Cozy Loona,” and “Synth Riders” demonstrated the Vision Pro’s gaming potential with accurate hand tracking and crisp visuals.

However, the Vision Pro is heavy and uncomfortable for long stretches. Even after trying various straps and cushions, it strains my neck after a few minutes, making it best for short bursts rather than all-day use. The tethered battery is also awkward, creating a frustrating layer of friction to the experience. Additionally, the software needs some work, with occasional glitches and bugs disrupting the otherwise smooth experience.

Using the Vision Pro can also be isolating, especially if you live with others. EyeSight, which projects a digital recreation of your eyes, feels uncanny, and interacting with a Persona in FaceTime or Zoom is distracting. The headset isn’t easy to share, requiring manual engagement of guest mode and lacking multiple user profiles. The camera experience is mixed, with spatial photos and videos not living up to the hype, although viewing old iPhone photos in a new light was enjoyable.

So, is the Apple Vision Pro worth it? In terms of getting what you pay for, there’s an argument to be made. It can function as a computer with multiple screens or a giant virtual TV with built-in surround sound, both of which can cost thousands on their own. However, the neck pain, occasional software glitches, and isolation factor make it less appealing. There are plenty of good alternatives, like the $500 Meta Quest 3 and the $449 Xreal Air 2 Pro, which offer similar experiences for a fraction of the price.

While none of these alternatives match the Vision Pro’s visual fidelity, multitasking capabilities, and Apple integration, waiting for a more refined, comfortable, and affordable version might be the best option. Until then, I’d recommend trying the Vision Pro yourself, enjoying its cool features, and then waiting for the inevitable sequel.

Say

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