Best Alternatives to Apple Vision Pro

Do you want to get your hands on the Apple Vision Pro? If the price tag is proving to be a stumbling block or the fact it is only on sale in the US is inconvenient – fear not! Many features you are looking for are already present on rival devices. Let’s look at the best alternatives to Apple Vision Pro…

What is the Apple Vision Pro?

The Apple Vision Pro is a cutting-edge mixed reality headset that seamlessly integrates virtual and physical environments with your existing Apple ecosystem.

Combining advanced sensors, high-quality displays, and novel input techniques, it promises users an immersive experience where digital elements coexist with the real world. The headset is positioned as a lot more than ‘just’ VR.

This blend of digital and tangible realities is enabled via passthrough mixed reality that uses cameras as your eyes – displaying the world in front of you on the screen in the headset. With its robust M2 processing unit at the helm, the Vision Pro tracks user movements with a new dedicated chip – the R1 – that helps interpret the streams of data from its many camera inputs.

However, the innovation comes at a cost – $3,499 to be precise, reflecting the doubtless quality of the technology packed into this device. So what are the best alternatives to Apple Vision Pro that will still blow your mind and leave a smile on your face?

Meta Quest Headset

Best Alternatives to Apple Vision Pro

Want the best of both worlds? The current benchmark for VR is the Meta Quest 3, coming in at around £499. Crucially, the Quest 3 features mixed reality that uses full-colour passthrough similar to the Vision Pro, albeit with a noticeable ‘warping’ effect at times and it is packing fewer pixels than its pricey upmarket competitor.

However, you get a wider FOV (field of view), a huge library of apps, a less weighty headset than many rivals and excellent Touch Plus controllers. You also get hand tracking and can connect to your PC or Mac to get virtual screens and extend your desktop working. In short, it does a lot of the same things that Vision Pro does, albeit without that ultra-slick Apple UX refinement.

Looking for something lighter? The best AR glasses alternative (depending on exactly how you define AR) is the Xreal Air 2. They are comfy, sturdy and ideal for private media viewing on the move.

Looking to get your gaming fix? You would be very brave indeed to play any energetic games on your expensive Vision Pro. Instead, if you have a PS5 in the living room then the PSVR2 is a mighty piece of kit.

As Apple does with the Vision Pro’s integration into the Mac OS, for PS5 users this will be an easy-to-set-up interface that is instantly understood. The gorgeous display with haptic feedback in the headset itself is clearly quality.

Hololens

Mixed Reality and Pro Users

Seeking true augmented reality? The Magic Leap 2 approaches mixed reality from a totally different angle. The headset acts like a pair of glasses with the AR content rendered in a ‘light field display’ that tricks the eye into thinking the virtual objects are metres rather than millimetres away.

The ‘Dynamic Dimming’ feature is one of its greatest feats – turning the lights down on reality while keeping the virtual content bright makes the ML2 a true competitor to passthrough headsets. Draw & Code are Magic Leap partners and we’ve used their devices for projects with Mercedes-Benz, the RSC and Philips.

Want to connect to Windows rather than Apple’s OS? The HoloLens 2 is to Windows what the Vision Pro is to Apple’s ecosystem.

In short, if you are comfortable with Microsoft products and are looking for a professional AR headset, this is the one for you. The built-in voice commands and reliance on hand-tracking allow you to quickly navigate and operate HoloLens 2 in a broadly similar fashion to the controller-free Vision Pro. And who needs Apple’s slightly freaky EyeSight feature that shows a simulated version of the user’s eyes on a screen on the outside of the device?

With the HoloLens you can flip up the visor, look your friends in the eye and talk to people any time. It’s such a simple and brilliant touch. Unlike the Vision Pro or Magic Leap 2, it is truly an untethered solution that is well-balanced on the head. However, the price is similar to Apple’s at over £3000 making this headset mainly for enterprise users.

Are you demoing VR at events? By all accounts, passing the Vision Pro from one user to another isn’t a simple process with a ten-minute onboarding process to get the best possible visual experience.

Instead, either the Vive XR Elite, a VR headset primarily used for high-end VR, or the relatively comfortable and colour mixed reality-enabled Meta Quest Pro both retail for around £1000 and are sweet for quickfire demo sessions at events.

Is the Apple Vision Pro too cheap for you? Yes, that’s right, too cheap. If you would prefer to lavish at least €10,000 on your mixed reality headset then the Varjo XR-4 Focal Edition is one of the few options you have. Previous editions of this tethered headset set the bar for passthrough mixed reality, offering crisp high-definition images rendered within your space. This latest incarnation promises to use gaze-tracking tech to make the focus feel more in keeping with how our eyes focus on distant objects in reality.

Phil

Phil

I’m the resident head of comms and partnerships here at Draw & Code. I work on strategy, sales, marketing and other vital areas at a studio that was founded on a dream and has spent the intervening decade trying to make that dream come true. I believe that immersive and interactive technologies are impacting on our lives and being in the epicentre of this industry makes every day a thrill.
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