Apple Vision Pro will go on sale in the US. How much will it cost and what is it like?

(CNN)— Vision Pro, Apple’s first new product in seven years, will officially hit US stores this Friday.

The mixed reality headset has gone on sale in Apple stores across the country, and some eager shoppers are among the first to get their hands on what promises to be one of the most innovative technology products in years.

At Apple’s flagship store in New York on Friday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook greeted customers waiting in the store, shaking their hands and taking selfies as employees applauded. About 200 people lined up before the 8 a.m. launch, including customers from all over the world.

Customers will be able to walk into stores and receive private, one-on-one demos on a first-come, first-served basis.

CEO Tim Cook has long talked about the potential of augmented reality to help people communicate and collaborate. Now he will have to prove that a device that combines virtual reality and augmented reality—technology that overlays virtual images onto live video of the real world—is indeed the future of computing.

Before its release, Cook called it “the most advanced consumer electronic device ever created.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple employees greet customers as they arrive to purchase Apple Vision Pro headphones at the Apple Fifth Avenue Manhattan store in New York City, USA, on February 2, 2024. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

But it won’t be an easy sell: It’s a clunky $3,499 computer that you wear on your face. The device will have 256GB of internal storage and specially tailored lenses will be available starting at $149. Reading glasses start at $99.

When you factor in additional accessories such as a $200 travel case and a $50-plus battery holder, it could cost up to $4,600, The New York Times reports.

The headset comes at a time when the market for extended reality (XR)—a category that includes augmented, virtual and mixed reality—has stalled and consumer adoption has been negligible. The Vision Pro comes with a limited number of apps out of the box and will be paired with an iPhone-sized battery, providing about 2.5 hours of battery life on a single charge.

However, the experience is unmatched when it comes to watching immersive videos and interacting with the world around you. It’s rare to find a new technology that feels innovative, but in the two demos CNN tested before launch, it’s easy to see the future, or at least an early and very expensive prototype of it.

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Vision Pro, an Apple headset, is showcased at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, USA on June 5, 2023. Photo: Lauren Elliott/Reuters.

User Experience

The Vision Pro itself looks like designer ski goggles. It has a padded, adjustable strap on top, a “digital crown” on the back (a larger version than on the Apple Watch), and another digital crown on top that serves as a sort of power button.

While it’s still a general purpose computer, it’s surprisingly lightweight and easy to use.

The setup process is simple: First, the headset tracks your eyes, scans your hands, and maps the room. Users will then see an iOS-like interface placed in front of their environment.

Eye movement and tapping of the thumb and index finger activate the Select button, allowing people to seamlessly move in and out of apps like Messages, FaceTime, Safari and Photos. The interface also responds to voice to activate Siri.

The first customer leaves the Apple Store with a Vision Pro purchase in New York City on February 2, 2024. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Photos can be viewed life-size or as if you were viewing them on a huge movie screen. Meanwhile, panoramas take you right into the scene. Vision Pro also offers a spatial photography option, allowing users to view 3D images and videos for an even more realistic experience. Use cases for Vision Pro range from cooking and meditation to work. Users can sync their Mac to turn the screen into a huge one and connect a physical keyboard.

To maximize productivity, you can have multiple windows open at once: email can be stored on one side, the Safari browser can be open in the middle, and a FaceTime call can be open on the right. When a user uses Vision Pro in FaceTime, they appear as a person or as a digital image of their face, similar to an avatar.

However, the real magic of Vision Pro lies in the immersive videos.

During a recent screening, we watched clips of Star Wars on Disney+ while sitting inside a virtual version of Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder—a visual experience that would bring any movie fan’s fantasies to life. Meanwhile, seeing the underwater scene from Avatar 2 in 3D was also surreal: it seemed as if users were right in the ocean.

Apple has taken steps to reduce the motion sickness problem that plagues other headphones with a special chip that reduces the latency problem found in similar products. Vision Pro delivers surround sound with audio modules positioned outside of your ears for rich, immersive sound.

To help users navigate their new headphones, Apple has included a nearly 10-minute tour on its website.

People line up outside the Apple Store in New York City on February 2, 2024, when the Vision Pro goes on sale in Apple Stores in the United States. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

Consumer appetite

Almost all of Apple’s new products, from the iPhone to the Apple Watch, promise to use different screen sizes to change the way we live, work and interact with the world. Vision Pro can do all this in an even more amazing way.

But from the start, the Vision Pro will likely remain a niche product for die-hard Apple enthusiasts and developers, largely due to the price.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the company sold an estimated 160,000 to 180,000 Vision Pro headphones during the first weekend of pre-orders last month.

Delivery times remained virtually unchanged after the first 48 hours, indicating that demand may be slowing after core fans have placed their orders. Delivery times are often extended after new iPhone models sell out.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley predict the company will sell up to 400,000 units of the Vision Pro this year.

CNN’s Claire Duffy contributed to this story.

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