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US Apple fans get hands on pricey Vision Pro headset

By AFP

February 2, 2024 07:53 PM


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US Apple stores on Friday began selling the Vision Pro, the tech giant's $3,499 headset and its first major release since the Apple Watch nine years ago.

Vision Pro's arrival from the world's most iconic device maker is a major milestone for the lovers of virtual or augmented reality, who see the technology as the next chapter in online life after the smartphone.

But with a high sticker price, and the middling success of similar and cheaper releases from Facebook owner Meta, early reviews expressed doubt that the Vision Pro will be a game-changer, at least for now.

The Vision Pro is an "astonishing" product, wrote tech website The Verge, but "also represents a series of really big trade-offs" that are "impossible to ignore."

It is "an impressive product, one that has been many years and billions of dollars in the making," but "even after trying it, I still have no idea whom or what this thing is supposed to be for," wrote The New York Times.

Critics acknowledge a definite "wow" factor, noting its state-of-the-art image quality and the joy of opening and closing apps floating in space using only your eyes and fingers.

However, the headset is heavy, messes up the user's hair and requires a clunky battery pack, they add.

Apple CEO Cook appeared Friday at Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York to greet the first customers under the applause of staff.

Cook had appeared earlier this week on the cover of Vanity Fair wearing the Vision Pro.

He drew criticism at a conference in June when he revealed the device without ever trying it on.

  'Spatial,' not virtual

 Apple refers to the Vision Pro as its first foray into "spatial computing," refusing the term virtual reality, which is typically associated with tech geeks and gamers.

In ads, users are shown wearing the Vision Pro to work or chat with friends or toggle through apps, in addition to streaming movies.

Apple says 600 specifically designed apps and games are available for the Vision Pro, alongside one million compatible apps.

"These incredible apps will change how we experience entertainment, music and games," said Susan Prescott, Apple's vice president of worldwide developer relations.

Disney has partnered with Apple and will provide 150 3D movies at launch, the companies said.

Netflix, Spotify and Google for now have declined to modify their apps specifically for the headset.

In an earnings call on Thursday, Cook said Vision Pro would become available in other countries later this year.

The Vision Pro can be tested by appointment in US Apple stores. That is because the device requires finely tuned adjustments and some training, as "most consumers don't have experience with gesture controls," Forrester Research wrote in a note.

According to analysts from Wedbush Securities, pre-orders have been strong and Apple should expect to sell about 600,000 units this year.

"For Apple, the ultimate goal in our opinion is that Vision Pro will work alongside the iPhone and other Apple devices over the coming years," said Dan Ives of Wedbush.


AFP


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