Posted on February 2nd, 2024
This week Apple's spiffy new VR/AR headset, The Vision Pro, was unleashed upon the world. And now the videos and reviews of the unit are being released. There were reviews before, but they were all taking place in Apple's tightly-controlled environment. Now they are out in the real world.
And of course my go-to tech guy, Marques Brownlee, is all over it.
First he posted an unboxing video.
Then he posted an experience and introduction video. If you only want to watch one video to get an idea of what Vision Pro is all about, this is it...
Both videos were excellent, as expected, but the one that compelled me to write about reacting to his reactions was when he wore the headset for the entire 90 minutes of his Waveform Podcast. It is fascinating. Mostly because it has conversation about where the technology is now and what it could mean for the future. If you are at all interested in Vision Pro, it's time well-spent to watch it...
At the one hour mark, Marques responds to viewers and makes a point of talking about being excited to taking a his first flight with Vision Pro. He wants to be able to watch videos on a plane. And I relate to this completely. The thing I want to do most when being stuck on a plane is to not being stuck on a plane, even if it's just virtually.
But this touches on the main reason that I want a Vision Pro.
I want to be able to turn the world off and not be stuck in reality.
I want to be able to strap on Vision Pro in my living room so I can watch movies on a massive screen... while sitting in a movie theater... ALL BY MYSELF. I love love love going to a movie theater. I love the experience. But I hate having to endure other people while I'm there. People talking. People using their phones. People eating. People kicking your seat. Which is to say that I loathe going to a movie theater because there's always going to be other people fucking up the experience. Vision Pro will allow me to go to a "theater" and have only a good experience. And that is what makes a Vision Pro worth it. Not for $3,500... but eventually when they drop the "Pro" features I don't care about and release a version that's affordable.
And everything I wrote about watching movies goes double for attending a concert. I have paid a ton of money for tickets to a concert... only to have to listen to people screaming their fucking heads off and talking the whole time. Not to mention having people standing in front of me blocking my view (and I'm tall!). If bands were to start releasing their live shows on Vision Pro... giving you a private concert from the best seat in the house... I would not only buy a Vision Pro, but I would happily pay the full ticket price to the artist to experience it. There are people who love live shows. I used to be one of those people. Maybe it's because I'm old now, but I definitely do not. Being able to virtually attend a concert is a dream scenario for me. I cannot wait for this to become a reality.
Everything else that a Vision Pro can do beyond that is gravy, but I'm going to focus on one aspect: travel.
Being able to explore the world from your living room is compelling, although it's never going to replace of being out in the world and seeing things in Real Life. Mostly because so much of the experience of travel is tied to actual immersion. Sights, smells, sounds, and interacting with all of them. And, unlike with movies or concerts, I find interacting with people to be one of the best parts of travel. So your "experience" with virtual travel is going to be severely limited with current technology. Even tech as advanced as Vision Pro. But let's break down why I still think there's a place for it, even with such severe limitations...
I am not going to buy a Vision Pro. At $3,500 plus tax and money for accessories, you're easily talking $4,000 and I can't justify that cost in any way. That money could be spent fixing my home, buying necessities, completing my landscaping project, and a ton of other things.
But that $3,500 price won't be there forever.
I don't give a shit about the front-facing screen which shows people your eyes when you're talking to them. Not even a little bit. If I'm talking to somebody, I'll just take the thing off. A version without that has got to chop at least $500 off the price. And I don't need metal and glass quality. I'll take a plastic headset and be happy to save at least another $500. Then there's the mass production savings which will come as they ramp up production of the cheaper version. All of a sudden... the Vision Not-Pro costs $1,500 to $1,800. And I would buy that in a heartbeat. Even if all I did was watch video on a massive virtual screen, that's worth it.
And then there's the future of Vision Pro.
The "persona avatars" are pretty crappy right now. But eventually? When they get better? Virtual meet-ups with my friends would be so cool. I'd love to sit and watch television shows with my friends so we can chat and enjoy the experience together. Or play games. Or just have a chat. That... that... would be insanely great.
I can't wait.
UPDATE: Marques has another video out. A lot of info packed into around 20 minutes...