'Vision Pro is far and away the best' — Hands-on reports highlight floating keyboard, EyeSight, and new headband experiences as February's launch date nears

Vision Pro spatial photos
(Image credit: Apple)

After months of waiting the Apple Vision Pro is finally just around the corner — it'll go on sale on February 2 — and expectations continue to grow. As part of Apple's upcoming PR blitz for what is sure to be a polarizing product, the company has handed its $3,499 headset to a small group of journalists for 30 minutes of hands-on time. And the reports are in.

Some people have already spent time with Vision Pro of course, and we've our own early hands-on report that details all the key features you should be looking forward to. But to date, the way that Vision Pro has been tested by members of the press has been very limited. Now, with the public set to get their hands on the headset in just a few weeks, Apple has opened things up a little.

That means that this latest round of reports includes a few new things that weren't part of the earlier hands-on experiences. There's more detail on the floating keyboard while some people were able to test the new Dual Loop Band for the first time. Reports are positive on the whole, but that isn't to say that there aren't still some concerns — especially about the weight of the headset after prolonged periods of use.

All about the features

There were two main reports that came out of the latest round of hands-on time with Engadget and The Verge sharing the result of their half-hour of time with the next big thing in AR/VR headsets. Both reports suggest that setting the headset up was quick and easy for the most part, including some eye-tracking configuration that really does need to be done right before the headset will work to its fullest. Dana Wollman at The Verge did initially report that they struggled to get the headset's twin 4K displays pin-sharp, and the headset didn't feel comfortable at first. That was fixed by switching to the Dual Loop Band and a new light seal cushion.

Once up and running, both reports suggest that the Spatial Video and the Immersive Video tests were impressive, although it's notable that there are rough edges in some cases.

"Apple had us bring some of our own spatial videos and panoramic photos to look at inside the Vision Pro, and the effect was convincing, although it works best when the camera is held still," The Verge's Victoria Song reports. "Nilay had shot some spatial videos where he’d intentionally moved the camera to follow his kid around the zoo and felt some familiar VR motion queasiness." The report went on to say that Apple is working to try and remove that motion sickness issue, however.

The Vision Pro's keyboard is one aspect that has come in for some criticism on social media and The Verge says that it works, "albeit clunkily." Engadget's Wollman wasn't impressed either, saying that it was "one of the more frustrating aspects of the demo." Wollman went on, saying that "the floating keyboard here clearly needs improvement. In the meantime, it’s harder to imagine using the Vision Pro for actual work." They added that "the Vision Pro feels much further along as a personal home theater."

In that regard, the headset was well received with encounters with dinosaurs, celebrities, and more all reportedly looking great.

Notably, those attending the hands-on session were able to see a demo of EyeSight for the first time. The feature that shows the wearer's eyes on the Vision Pro's display is sure to be an acquired taste, with The Verge saying that "it's a big goofy," although it does seem to work as advertised.

The best of the bunch

While there is no denying that the Vision Pro experience isn't perfect, it's already off to a solid start. "The Vision Pro was mostly easier to use than I expected," Wollman said before Engadget's Cherlynn Low noted that "the Apple Vision Pro is far and away the best, and easily the most thought-out." And that's a solid start, albeit one that costs $3,499.

Be sure to check out the full Engadget and The Verge reports for the lowdown on their experiences, especially if you're on the fence about your preorder on Friday.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.