In 2020, Magic Leap pivoted to enterprises and away from consumers, restructuring itself and bringing a new CEO onboard. Since then, numerous eyes have been on the AR legacy company, on how this pivot would reflect its new AR headset: Magic Leap 2. The question at hand is if it would win enterprises over other premium AR headsets like Microsoft HoloLens 2.
In this comprehensive review of the Magic Leap 2 AR headset, we set out to answer the question about how good the Magic Leap 2 headset really is.
We will go through the following points in our Magic Leap 2 review:
|Most powerful processor found in a AR headset
|Lightpack must always be carried
|Highest resolution with the widest Field of View in AR
|Limited app store
|Open and platform agnostic operating system
Here are the specifications for Magic Leap 2:
When you receive your new Magic Leap 2, it is neatly tucked in a matte black interior box with all its parts subdivided into symmetric squares.
Here is the exhaustive list of what you will get.
Magic Leap was a pioneer in augmented reality, as they were one of the first ever brands to develop and publish augmented reality. With this legacy, Magic Leap 2 builds on the previous edition’s design language of its goggle, steampunk aesthetic to more of a modern aesthetic. The Leap 2 is flatter and unobtrusive as its size is significantly smaller compared to the larger visor-type design of HoloLens 2.
Similarly, like HL2, Leap 2’s build quality feels premium and sturdy. There is minimal give and the headset held up well during our stress testing. It should be mentioned though that the Leap 2 does not have drop-secure certifications or any IP-waterproof ratings yet. However, this will likely be short-lived as the headset is targeting enterprises and industries which value such safety and use case certifications.
What will immediately stand out when you put on the Magic Leap 2 is how light it is with a weight of 260 grams. In fact, it is even lighter than its predecessor.
The reason is that the computing is in a separate add-on – the company calls it a “compute pack” – making the headset very comfortable to wear even after many hours. However, this low weight does come with its downsides, as a dangling cable runs down your back to the computing add-on. Comparably, the HoloLens 2 is a fully standalone headset which also means a heavier weight. It is then up to the wearer what they prefer: heavier and no cable; or lighter with a cable.
The second feature on Leap 2 you will notice is the automatic fit adjustment booting up when the headset turns on. This was something that impressed us on Magic Leap 1, and we are over the moon to see it again. Comparably, the HoloLens 2 uses a manual screw system to find its best fit.
A feature we would have liked to see was a convenient way to enter and exit augmented reality. For example, with the HoloLens 2, it is possible to flip the visor 90 degrees, seamlessly entering and exiting the headset. With Magic Leap 2, you will have to take the headset on and off. Incidentally, this also coincided with the headset’s usability for people with prescription glasses. You can order pre-established prescription inserts. However, not all prescriptions are covered and can pose potential issues with using the headset. The HoloLens 2 does not have this problem, as the headset is large enough to fit on top and over prescription glasses.
An attribute that is hard to beat on HoloLens 2 is its spatial cloud saving feature. For augmented reality to work, the headset has to scan and generate a 3D copy of your environment. With HoloLens 2, multiple 3D environments are saved online, enabling several people to use the same headset with ease. Alternatively, on Magic Leap 2, you will have to spatially map the area you are in each time you use the headset.
The good part is that scanning new environments are improved on the Leap 2 headset. It is faster and more intricate in noticing tricky objects like mirrors or glass tables.
Magic Leap 2 has made it quick and convenient to begin using the headset with a Magic Leap cloud portal. In fact, one of the best improvements over Leap 1 is that the Magic Leap 2 has moved to an Android-based operating system. This means APKs substitute Magic Leap’s native MPKs, so you can use Android Studio or Unity to develop customized applications for the headset.
Likewise, as the first Magic Leap used The Lab to control and manage the device, Magic Leap 2 uses an equivalent management system called Magic Leap Hub. This is something we are happy to see for convenience in externally controlling the headset and centralizing all matters related to the headset.
Comparably, while it is possible to develop native applications for the HoloLens 2, it is more of a closed system. Although, on HL2, you get the library of Microsoft productivity platforms like Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 with the Cortana language assistant. It essentially comes down to if you want customizability on Leap 2 versus extra productivity features already on HoloLens 2.
Interactivity and UI on Magic Leap 2 are designed for both gesture controls and navigation through the accompanying controller. We found the software easily navigable and intuitive, even for newcomers to AR. Alternatively, HoloLens 2 has voice control through Cortana, however, we did find voice control clashing with loud background noise, leading to modicum frustration and limiting use cases.
Magic Leap 2 will be the binocular augmented reality headset with the best visual performance using waveguides. Before Magic Leap 2, a visible screen door was prevalent within AR. However, with ML2, we can safely say that this has been nearly eliminated from its impressive resolution.
From a purely technical standpoint, Leap 2’s specifications are impressive, with 1440×1760 pixels per eye that make 3D objects pop and a significantly taller field of view, which we found to enable better multitasking. Compared to the other premium AR headset – HoloLens 2 – it has 1440×936 pixels per eye in an almost 40 percent smaller field of view. The refresh rate is also less smooth on HoloLens 2, compared to Magic Leap 2’s 122 Hz. All in all, making Magic Leap 2 ideal for simulation and training purposes where realistic movement and representation is paramount.
A feature that is sure to become industry standard within augmented reality is Magic Leap’s Dynamic Dimming. In explaining Dynamic Dimming, we need to cover universal dimming, which is when glass can increase its opaqueness to blur or darken everything out. Dynamic dimming is the same technology but hyper-localized.
In other words, Magic Leap 2, with a press of a button, can turn into a mixed reality headset, blocking real-world light down to 0.3 percent. This means the augmented reality you are experiencing does not mesh into the real world around you but is displayed on a black background. And more impressively, this dimming technology can be specific to the AR objects themselves. This means that small, intricate 3D objects pop and become significantly clearer, making, for example, reading in AR much more pleasant.
We also found that dynamic dimming lessened ghosting of 3D objects, almost eliminating it. While it also makes Magic Leap 2’s sensitivity to light much less prevalent than on other augmented reality headsets on the market.
|Magic Leap 2
|1440×1760 pixels per eye
|1440×936 pixels per eye
|Field of view
|70 degrees diagonal
|43 degrees horizontal
The camera on Magic Leap 2 is a 12.6MP full-color system with autofocus capable of filming in 4K with 30fps or 1080p with 60fps. Uniquely the 4K video support enables remote expertise using software like TeamViewer or Remote Eye.
What we would have loved to see with the Magic Leap 2 is industry and safety certifications like on HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition. For example, cleanroom compatibility of ISO 14644-1 Class 5-8 could go a long way with the superior capabilities of the Leap 2 in a design and development environment. As for now, we recommend smart glasses like Vuzix M4000 or RealWear Navigator 500 for their industry and front-line worker use cases. And if binocular is a must, Vuzix Blade Upgraded is an excellent glass for most industry use cases.
With three wide FoV cameras, a depth sensor, a front-facing RGB camera, and an ambient light sensor, the Magic Leap 2 has plenty of capability to position you in your environment and place 3D objects in it. While we found Leap One having a more intrusive jittering and sliding of 3D objects issue, we are happy to announce that this has been thoroughly addressed in Leap 2. In general, significantly less sliding and jittering is occurring on par with the performance of HoloLens 2.
It is not only with positional tracking that ML2 has leaped ahead of the competition, now the headset also features one extra eye tracking camera per eye. We found with this additional tracking camera per eye improved the responsiveness and stability of the eye tracking, limiting the latency of pupil tracking down to almost unnoticeable levels.
The tracking on the Leap Two controller also has gotten an overhaul. Where Leap One’s controller used magnetic field tracking, the new Leap Two controller uses optical tracking from embedded black-and-white cameras. Because of this improved tracking method, we found that the tracking stability was flawless, with no hitches or stuttering. In fact, the tracking kept going strong outside the ML2’s tracking cones.
The controller even works with hand tracking, enabling you to have a controller in one hand with the other free. The battery life on the controller also hits a consistent 3 hours of run time. A commendable feat as inside-out tracked controllers require their own processing to compute positional data taking a hit on battery life. On the Leap 2 controller, this was not the case.
Like Leap One, Magic Leap 2 delivers spatial audio from integrated speakers above your ears which the company calls “Sound Field Audio”. Practically, this means you can distinguish voices in a meeting, making remote conferences feel much more immersive. Another neat feature Magic Leap 2 has incorporated is a gentle audible notification when somewhere out of your field of view needs to be addressed. In general, this attention to detail goes a long way, and we found it helped tremendously with multitasking.
Lastly, like HoloLens 2, Leap 2 does not have a 3.5mm Jack on the headset. However, the jack is found on the external computing pack.
Magic Leap 2 is the next generation of augmented reality, and with this title comes a premium price. The headset is available in three versions dictating its permission of use.
You can purchase the Magic Leap 2 Base edition for 4120 €. This version is permitted as a deployed headset in a commercial or production setting like showcasing at conferences or manufacturing repair.
Alternatively, you can acquire the Developer Pro version for 5065 € targeting R&D and design purposes, as commercial and production deployment is not permitted. While you also will receive early access to developer tools, enterprise-specific features, and more.
If you want both, the Enterprise variant is for you, priced at 5735 €. This version permits both use cases with an extended 2-year warranty.
Magic Leap had a lot of eyes on them after they announced a pivot from consumers to enterprises: from Magic Leap 1 to Magic Leap 2. In fact, the Leap 2, despite the similarity in name, is targeting vastly different use cases and succeeds in this.
This comprehensive review shows that not only is the Leap 2 the most capable and premium AR headset on the market, but it also has innovative features that enterprises will find immensely valuable.
Dynamic Dimming is a sight to behold as reading in AR now is functional, while it also highlights intricate objects crucial in design and development. Additionally, the unparalleled visual performance with 122 Hz refresh rate, skyrise tall FoV, and crip resolution is essential in simulation and training purposes where immersion and realistic representation is crucial.
Lastly, the open and platform agnostic operating system will come in great use for many enterprises using specific software and IT systems that can easily mesh with Leap 2’s backend.
We sat out with the question if Magic Leap 2 lives up to its company pivot to enterprises, and we can safely say that it not only achieves this but goes beyond and has redefined augmented reality in many ways.
The choice of the right AR headset depends on which use cases you have: do you go with a monocular or binocular smart glass? Or is the HoloLens 2 the right choice for you?
Contact us here so we can help you decide between the many augmented reality solutions on offer.
|Magic Leap 2
|Microsoft HoloLens 2
|4120 € Base version
|1440 x 936 per eye
|Field of view
|12.6MP, 60fps RGB camera with 4k video
|8 MP, 1080p 30fps
|AMD Quad-core Zen2
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 850
|Hand gestures, eye tracking, head motion, and controller
|Hand gestures, eye tracking, head motion, voice with Cortana natural language
|3.5 hours (7 hours in “Sleep Mode”)