The Vision Pro stacks up surprisingly well to absurdly expensive industrial VR headsets

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

ThrillSeeker is a must follow if you’re into VR, and his most popular video of all time was on his experience using the Varjo XR-3. At the time, that was a $5,500 device plus a required $1,500/year subscription. Oh, and it needed to be connected to a PC. But the specs on the headset itself seemed to be very impressive, especially compared to what else was out there at the time.

The thing that stood out to me was the display quality. Each eye gets a 2880x2720 display, but then also gets a second, smaller display that covers the center of your vision which results in exceptionally high apparent resolution to the user: about 70 PPD at the center and 30 PPD elsewhere. Compare this to the Vision Pro’s 3660x3200 displays per eye, and Apple’s headset looks very impressive. Although at 34 PPD on the Vision Pro, I’m convinced that we’re very squarely in the pre “retina” era right now and the current Vision Pro will look unusable to people a few years down the road.

We could get lost in the specs for ages, so I’m going to skip ahead a bit…

Varjo has since released the XR-4, which appears to match or best the Vision Pro in most specs, but here are some important things to know:

  1. The cheap model costs $3,990.
  2. The model with their better passthrough quality is $9,990.
  3. These require you to be plugged into a very beefy PC to function (my quite high end gaming PC barely hits their minimum specs).

I don’t mean for this to be a “actually the Vision Pro is cheap!” post, but I did think it was interesting to see what the best in VR headsets are today and how the Vision Pro gets shockingly close to those, and it does it with a computer in the headset itself. Again, it’s a very expensive piece of kit and it’s not for everyone, but checking out the Varjo product line has made me appreciate how impressive the tech in the Vision Pro actually is.

Update: I spoke to someone who has used the XR-3 and they said the Vision Pro's screen is much more clear. Their feedback on that 1080p second display that makes the center of the screen more clear (70 PPD) is truly a tiny part of your vision, and since it doesn't move with your eyes' focus, it's often not making the part of the screen you're looking at crisp.