Movies on the Vision Pro are a stunning, but imperfect experience

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 6 min read
Movies on the Vision Pro are a stunning, but imperfect experience

Back when I was a kid, there was a “computer room” in our house. There was one PC and we all shared it. Want to look something up online? Go to the computer room. Want to play a game? Go to the computer room. Want to listen to a song you downloaded? Go to the computer room.

But over the last few decades, the concept of a computer room has faded, and we can do basically any computing task from anywhere we want. Even if we have a home office, most of us have a laptop that we can truck with us to do the things we need in other rooms of the house or even anywhere else in the world. Our phones have made it so that we can bring both our and the world’s information with us literally anywhere we can go.

It used to be you needed to be in one specific spot of your house to do anything on a computer, now you could be stuck upside down on a broken down roller coaster and still do basically everything you’d want to on a computer.

And of course other parts of our computing lives have become less tied down to a specific physical position. Smart speakers let us listen to music, check the weather, or ask how old that one actor is by voice command wherever we are in the house, for example.

Finally, web services make it so our data is available anywhere, so we can seamlessly switch from one context and one device to another with ease. Honestly, it’s all kind of amazing when you think about how far we’ve come.

Wait, isn’t this post about movies?

While we’ve transitioned from computing in one place to computing anywhere we please, watching movies and TV at the highest quality have remained relatively old-school. I personally have a big TV in my living room which is hooked up to a decent Sonos speaker set, and this is where I watch every movie, TV show, and most YouTube videos. Yes, I can watch all of these on my laptop, iPad, or even phone, but those are all compromised experiences compared to the big screen experience in my living room.

I haven’t really thought about this as the modern “computer room” but it kind of is. To watch a movie and get the full experience, I need to be able to use that room. As stated above, I can fall back to lesser experiences elsewhere, but it’s just not the same; while I appreciate being able to watch Across the Spider-Verse on my phone, that’s really no way to experience that film.

What the Vision Pro allows is for me watch movies at shockingly high quality at whatever size I want in whatever environment I want wherever I am. All VR headsets can do this, but the Vision Pro is the first time I’ve seen this experience delivered at such a high quality. Watching movies on the Quest 3 feels a bit novel, but the quality simply isn’t as good as watching on a decent TV. The Vision Pro’s massive upgrade in fidelity is the difference here, and it’s noticeable immediately when watching video.

Another thing that’s special is that I can adapt this incredibly high quality experience to wherever I am. For example, I watched Rogue One in bed this morning and I simply moved the “screen” up towards my ceiling so that I could lay back and relax. Instead of figuring out how to get comfortable in a way I could still face the TV, I just did what was most ergonomic and adapted the digital screen to my needs. And if I needed to shift to my side or to sit up in bed, I was able to move the screen accordingly to still be in view. This is the sort of thing that really pushes new technology over the edge for me; don’t just replicate the thing you’re trying to replace, do things that are impossible in the old way.

I’ll also note here that the audio quality from the built-in speakers is remarkable. I still think a decent set of over-the-ear headphones bests the raw quality, but the Vision Pro’s speakers are so good all on their own, the difference is marginal and the convenience of not having to wear even more stuff on your head makes them my go-to way to use the Vision Pro.


It’s not all perfect, though. The big issue for me is comfort. The headset’s weight really kicks in for me about 30 minutes into a Vision Pro session, and my cheeks definitely feel the pressure after that point. I’ve tried both included straps and it’s an issue on both of them. I mentioned laying back in bed to watch on the ceiling, and that was actually less comfortable because gravity was then entirely pushing the headset onto my face rather than down and away when I’m fully upright. I hope that in time I can adapt the fit of the headbands to be better here, or maybe just like our pinky fingers have gotten more adept at holding a phone in our hands, my face will get more used to this weight and it won’t be as big a deal.

Another thing that was an issue was eating breakfast and drinking my morning coffee. I was able to do it, but not being able to see my food as clearly was annoying, and I had to throw my head all the way back to drink my coffee since I couldn’t bring the cup as close to my nose and eyes with the headset in the way. I was eating waffles with peanut butter like I often do and I was really having to be careful not to get the peanut butter on the Vision Pro glass.

The biggest reason this won’t be something I use all the time is that this was a completely solo experience. My weekend morning movie watching sometimes sees my wife come in halfway through a film and join me for the remaining bit if she’s interested in it. Watching in the Vision Pro means she has no idea what I’m watching and whether she want’s to join or not. Even if she did, I couldn’t bring her into this experience. Fast forward 10 years to a potential world where we both have headsets, and maybe there is a way for me to watch a movie in a mode that lets other people see that movie in the same 3D space as me so she could walk into the living room and join seamlessly if she wanted. There’s a lot of implementation details that still make this a weird thing, but maybe there’s a solution we can figure out, but for now using the Vision Pro to watch movies is a decidedly solo experience.

Finally, it’s not necessarily the Vision Pro’s fault, but I watched the bulk of Rogue One in 2D, and about 30 minutes of it in 3D. The 3D is just bad, and I don’t think it’s the Vision Pro’s fault (I watched bits of the Avatar films and they were way better), but more an issue with movies widely being shot in 2D and getting horrendous 3D conversions in post-production. I think there’s also an issue with 3D at 24fps where things like motion blur which looks great on a flat image makes fake 3D look gross. The Way of Water at 48fps and shot natively in 3D fixes both of these issues, so just be aware not all 3D movies are made equal.

Final thoughts

I won’t be watching everything on the Vision Pro going forward, but I do really love the experience overall, so I do expect to watch a decent amount of things with it.

The bigger thing it made me realize was how I hadn’t really considered the “computer room” nature of our current home theater setups. Being able to watch Rogue One in bed with a comparable (better in some ways) video and audio experience to watching on my TV was great, but being able to bring that experience elsewhere is going to be absolutely wild. I have a business trip coming up soon and while I’m not going to wear this thing on the plane (I’m not bold enough to draw that sort of attention), I do look forward to escaping to the hotel room after work events are done and watching something that looks and sounds just as good as if I were anywhere else.