People are returning the Vision Pro. Here are the best alternatives you can buy now

Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

The Vision Pro is impressive, but it’s not for everyone. That’s why some people are already returning their orders just two weeks after the $3,500 product first launched. Luckily, if that’s you, or if you like the concept of Apple’s Vision Pro, but aren’t sure it suits your needs, there are a few alternatives to consider. Similar options start at $500 and go up to $3,900.

Some of the best VR headsets available today offer many of the same capabilities, but require a Windows gaming PC that supports VR. Others don’t meet the Vision Pro’s specifications, but are still good options at a much lower price. Either way, it’s a good time to review what Vision Pro alternatives you can buy right now and what’s coming in the near future.

Meta Search Pro

Alan Truly writes using a Quest Pro with a paired keyboard and mouse.
Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

If you’re looking for freedom of movement, being tied to a computer is very limiting. Despite the portability of a laptop, you still have to worry about stepping on the HDMI cable that supplies power and video to the PC VR headset.

That’s one of the reasons why Meta’s standalone headsets are so popular. They are relatively light, easy to carry, do not require a computer at all, and are usually much cheaper. Meta launched the Quest Pro at $1,500, which was a surprise after years of affordable Quest and Quest 2 VR headsets. A few months later, Meta cut the price by a third. At $1,000, the Quest Pro is a bargain.

The Quest Pro’s resolution of 1800 x 1920 pixels is relatively low and the mini-LED backlighting isn’t as good as some higher-end headsets. However, you do get some equivalent 1080p displays when using the headset for spatial computing.

Meta has been perfecting VR headsets for years and the Quest Pro’s hand, eye and face tracking rivals the Vision Pro. Mixed reality quality is colorful, but has noise and artifacts that detract from the experience.

What stands out is the design. The Meta Quest Pro doesn’t weigh your cheeks a pound or more, which is very rare for a VR headset. Instead, the headset floats in front of your eyes, with weight balanced between the rear battery and the headset in a halo strap that rests on your forehead and covers the back of your head.

Meta Search 3

Alan Really uses a Quest 3 with a MacBook Air for work.
Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

The $500 Meta Quest 3 might sound like a ridiculous suggestion to anyone looking for an alternative to Apple’s Vision Pro, but it’s not. This little headset is simply amazing, and in some ways, it’s the Vision Pro’s most direct competitor.

It’s a standalone VR headset with great hand tracking and good mixed reality quality. The Quest 3’s Qualcomm Snapdragon

For more performance, a standalone headset like the Quest 3 can be connected to a computer. In this case, the Quest 3 beats the Vision Pro. Meta Horizon Workspace supports up to three virtual screens, whereas Vision Pro only has one. The Quest 3 can connect to both Windows and Mac computers, while the Vision Pro only supports Mac.

Vision Pro excels in display resolution and eye tracking. The Quest 3 lacks eye tracking and has a screen resolution of just 2064 x 2208 pixels per eye. On the other hand, the Quest 3 ticks all the boxes for a great VR headset and has a large library of immersive games that the Vision Pro lacks.

Varjo X-4

The Varjo X-4 VR headset is worn by a person standing in front of the robot's exoskeleton.
The Varjo X-4 VR headset is worn by a person standing in front of the robot’s exoskeleton. Varjo

Potential to handle professional applications giving the Vision Pro an edge over standalone VR headsets. However, high-end PC VR solutions can connect to a powerful Windows PC with a discrete graphics card, providing enough CPU and GPU performance to surpass even the speedy Vision Pro.

Varjo makes VR headsets for enterprise solutions such as 3D design, simulation and training. In January 2023, I reviewed one of the cheapest headsets, the $2,000 Varjo Aero, and was blown away by its sharp visuals and dynamic range.

The Aero has been discontinued, but in November 2023, Varjo announced its best VR headset, the X-4 series. Its screen resolution of 3840 x 3744 pixels exceeds Apple’s ultra-sharp display of 3840 x 3744. Apple may offer better dynamic range because it uses OLED technology, while Varjo relies on less accurate mini-LED LCD backlighting.

Starting at $3,990, we wouldn’t include this VR headset in a consumer-oriented article, but Apple’s $3,500 Vision Pro is only a few hundred dollars cheaper. The Varjo

You need an expensive Windows PC and advanced software to harness the graphical power of a demanding VR headset, adding to your bill. Varjo targets corporate customers, but if you’re considering spending a few thousand dollars for the Vision Pro, the Varjo X-4 might be within reach.

Pimax Crystal

In this side view of the Pimax Crystal, you can see the optional headphones.
In this side view of the Pimax Crystal, you can see the optional headphones. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Last summer, Pimax launched its best PC VR headset, the Crystal. Although the headset has a standalone mode, the most impressive results come when you connect it to a PC with a high-performance Nvidia GPU.

The Pimax Crystal trails Apple’s Vision Pro in terms of sharpness and dynamic range, but it’s one of the best VR headsets available, with eye tracking, foveated rendering, and a 2880 x 2880 pixel display with mini-LED backlighting.

Good enough to replace Varjo Aero, and The Pimax Crystal easily outperformed my Meta Quest 2 and Quest Pro headsets in display quality. At $1,599, the top-of-the-line Pimax is inexpensive compared to the Vision Pro’s $3,500 price tag, but it’s still pricey compared to a standalone solution.

Upcoming Vision Pro alternative

Sony's XR headset has a flip-up case as well as a unique ring controller and stylus.
Sony’s XR headset has a flip-up case as well as a unique ring controller and stylus. Sony

Other manufacturers did not stand aside while Apple worked on the Vision Pro. Even though Apple’s headset is a secret, everyone knows about it thanks to insider leaks and Apple patent filings.

Submerged Visor

A surprising competitor to the Apple Vision Pro comes from VR software developer Immersed. Its Visor headset will reportedly match the Vision Pro’s 4K resolution and look-and-pinch user interface, weigh the same as the phone and cost around $1,120.

It is supported by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 chip that Samsung will use in its XR headset, but also optimized for super-fast Mac and PC connections.

Immersed specializes in remote virtual desktops and offers a better solution for VR headsets than Meta because it supports up to five virtual displays and your phone, with complete freedom in customizing their size and position. The Immersed app is built into the Visor, but is available for many VR headsets and is coming to the Vision Pro.

Immersed has some fun with a YouTube video comparing the Visor to the Apple Vision Pro.

The Immersed Visor will start shipping this summer. Pre-orders start at $400, but require a one-year subscription to Visor Plus, a productivity-focused upgrade to the included Immersed software. At the end of the year, you can unsubscribe and continue using the device’s core features and software.

Sony, Samsung, and Meta

Sony and Samsung have announced upcoming Vision Pro competitors. Sony has shared a lot of details and it’s clear that their XR headset is aimed at enterprise work. Samsung only provided a leak about the work on the XR headset.

Meta hasn’t said anything about competing solutions and cites Quest 3 as a good alternative. However, there are indications that the Quest Pro 2 will be coming soon. We dug into the Vision Pro’s expected rivals from Sony, Samsung, and Meta, and you might want to learn more before ordering the Vision Pro.

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