Varjo XR-4 vs. Apple Vision Pro – Which is the better choice?

Varjo XR-4 vs. Apple Vision Pro – Which is the better choice?

Published: 30-04-2024
Updated: 30-04-2024

Introduction

The Varjo XR-4 and Apple Vision Pro are currently the most powerful mixed reality headsets. They both offer high-end features, immersive experiences and ecosystems for demanding use cases – but they are not the same. The goal of this article is to look in detail how these innovations translate into real-world applications, and evaluate which headset offers more superior experience for highly demanding use cases.

In this article :

Display and Visual Experience

Starting with the visual experience, both Varjo XR-4 and Apple Vision Pro excel in delivering stunning visuals. However, this is achieved through two different technological approaches with different impacts on user experience, particularly in professional applications.

The Varjo XR-4 is equipped with dual 4K x 4K displays with an exceptionally high pixel density of 51 pixels per degree (PPD). That is an excellent level of detail to be able to display even the most complex textures and fine lines renderings with crystal clarity. This kind of rendering quality is usually requested in engineering design simulations or medical procedures, where precision is the key. Varjo’s Field of view is 120° x 105°, which is great for an expanded sense of presence and spatial awareness, finding use in training and simulation in virtual environments that are bound to spatial coordination like aviation.

The Apple Vision Pro utilizes Micro-OLED technology with 23 million pixels across its display. The result is an extremely vibrant and deep color reproduction with visual fidelity that is maintained across the entire display. The synchronization between hardware and software deepens this experience that is necessary for creating nuance in real-time interactions mixed reality. In mixed reality, physical and virtual environments have to be spatially coordinated because the virtual objects interact with the real space. This results in a fluid visual experience and feels lifelike when interacting with virtual objects – especially valuable for creative fields, entertainment, and immersive education. Apple Vision Pro’s Field of view is estimated  between 100° and 120° for the horizontal field, with the vertical Field of view around 90°.

Both headsets aimed to set a new standard in visual quality for mixed reality, and they did. Depending on the type of professional and high-end user, Varjo would be suitable for those needing the highest precision rate, and the Apple Vision Pro for those who prefer elevating everyday activities, whether personal or professional, to immersive environments of highest quality and resolution.

Hardware Design

The design of both headsets are truly unique, and they both highlight unique design philosophies that show up in distinct functional priorities.

The Varjo XR-4 is built as a professional-grade device – mainly to be reliable and durable for the complexities of operating mixed reality applications. Varjo is not a standalone headset, and requires tethering to a PC. This isn’t anything problematic since the use cases where such headsets are needed already require a bit more complex setups than those for standalone headsets (aerospace and engineering). Varjo’s hardware design has a glossy, reflective and elegant front face designed to honor the legacy of Varjo’s first headset. Its weight distribution is balanced, which is important due to its overall higher weight of 665g.

The Apple Vision Pro has a sleek, refined physical design that fits Apple’s signature aesthetic of functional minimalism. It is a bit more lightweight with 600-650g and less robust than Varjo, and that is to withstand regular use while maintaining high-end appearance. The Apple Vision Pro’s aesthetic is distinctly futuristic with clean lines and a subtle clear interface – also very characteristic of Apple’s product line. It has a textile band known as the “Solo Knit Band,” designed for comfort and ease of use. It’s made of 3D knitted textile material, and it can stretch to fit various head sizes comfortably. The design also includes a Fit Dial, which helps secure the Vision Pro firmly on the user’s head. The stretchable textile and adjustable fit keep the user comfortable without applying too much pressure to any particular point on the head.

Based on the robustness and precision, Varjo is better equipped for specialized professional use that justifies the heavy build. The Apple Vision Pro is more versatile and user-friendly, and designed to appeal with its ergonomy and stylish design.

Performance

Both Varjo and Apple Vision Pro are state-of-the-art technology tailored for high-fidelity mixed reality. As mentioned, Varjo is engineered for high-end professional use where top-tier performance is non-negotiable. It is powered by NVIDIA RTX™ Ada Generation GPUs, which can handle intense graphical demands. And because this is not a standalone device, it requires a high-performance PC with specific requirements and a powerful GPU that supports the NVIDIA Ada architecture to operate effectively. This setup allows connecting to Varjo Reality Cloud for cloud streaming, which works well for sectors that need integration with complex 3D workflows. In regards to spatial audio, Varjo employs DTS 3D audio technology for high-quality, directional sound that complements the visual fidelity of its headset. This audio system creates a three-dimensional soundscape in order to perceive sounds as coming from specific locations in the environment.

The Apple Vision Pro is powered by Apple’s M2 chip with an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU, plus a 16-core Neural Engine for advanced machine learning tasks. This chip is responsible for the Vision Pro’s great ability to multitask while maintaining a fluid high-fidelity immersion. Since the Apple Vision Pro is mostly used in professional virtual workspace settings, productivity and multitasking is a must. The integration of visionOS optimizes the distribution of system resources effectively across multiple active applications, and this is where a good performance is needed in particular. The Apple Vision Pro has an advanced 3D camera system that captures depth and spatial data with high precision – essential for use cases where users need to manipulate virtual objects in education and training.

Impressive configurations of both headsets, but many differences. The Apple Vision Pro is definitely more user friendly, there’s no need to connect to the PC, and even with a very high performance setup, it can be used in an autonomous setup. That is not the case for Varjo, which is clearly a device built for the highest performance requirement and the most complex and complicated professional setups – whether we’re talking about physical or virtual conditions.

Tracking and interaction

Varjo has advanced inside-out tracking capabilities and is equipped with dual 20-megapixel high-resolution cameras and sensors to provide precise and responsive user interactions. The upgraded LiDAR sensor is responsible for depth sensing and spatial awareness, accurate placement and interaction with virtual objects within the real environment – used in surgical setups, industrial design or other types of simulations that contain manipulating and placing virtual components of various sizes. The LiDAR works on inside-out tracking capabilities by accurately mapping the surroundings, which is essential for precise motion tracking without external sensors.

Varjo’s standout feature is the real-time photorealistic video pass-through mixed reality, bringing incredible realism. Besides visual immersion, Varjo also provides tactile immersion with specially designed controllers, which are manufactured by Razer, that makes the experience more touchable.

Apple Vision Pro has a stereoscopic 3D camera system with depth-sensing capabilities, supported by dual high-resolution main cameras. It also includes a suite of additional sensors that support spatial audio using accelerometers and gyroscopes to align audio with the user’s movements and orientation within a space. The headset’s EyeSight technology uses additional sensors to track eye movements and facial expressions as a way to control the device and interact with content or other users in virtual environments. Since the Apple Vision Pro focuses on enhancing collaborative and individual virtual experiences, this setup is ideal for user interaction within shared virtual workspaces. The headset’s gesture and voice controls are integrated through visionOS, which help the user take over the navigation and operation within the virtual space hands-free.

For professional and industrial use, Varjo takes the lead with superior tracking, precision, and realism necessary for high-stakes applications. And even though the Apple Vision Pro certainly stands out with the technology, it is better suited for managing multitude of tasks and operations in a user-friendly synchronized manner, but not in particular in use cases that cannot afford any glitch.

Software Ecosystem

Varjo connects with NVIDIA Omniverse, which is a platform designed to enable collaboration and simulation within shared virtual environments and workflows. This software is specifically designed to build and manage connected 3D pipelines to streamline modification of complex 3D models across platforms. It brings many benefits for industries like architecture, automotive and visual effects industries (video gaming or movie post production) that use 3D models that have to be updated by multiple employees in real time. And since it activates a highly accurate interactive interface, it also finds use in advanced technical support.

The Apple Vision Pro is powered by visionOS and takes a different approach, the focus is primarily on accessibility, productivity and consumption of immersive content. VisionOS has a wide range of features designed exactly for that in order to boost user interaction with tools like VoiceOver, Zoom, or support for hearing devices. The ecosystem is tailored mostly for immersive content experiences and creative applications – best for artists, designers, and even educators who work with immersive learning.

Pricing and Target Audience

Varjo comes in several variants for different professional needs and budgets:

  • Standard edition model is priced at €3990 and offers the core experience with high-resolution displays and photorealistic passthrough. Best suitable for the architecture field, training simulations, or industrial design.
  • Focal edition at €9990 comes with enhanced resolution and focus capabilities, and is designed for use cases with ultra-high visual fidelity requirements like surgical simulations or fine-grade industrial design.
  • Secure edition starts at €7990 and has a focal variant at €13990. These are designed for governmental and military applications with extra data security features. This version can also operate completely offline to meet the strictest security standards.

Varjo specifically targets enterprise customers and niche industries that need professional-grade mixed reality experiences. These are not consumer-oriented headsets, and they are not available for general retail purchase. Varjo’s headsets are sold directly to businesses through a structured sales process that also includes consultations for the hardware to match the specific needs of the organization, which is mostly aerospace, automotive, and advanced engineering.

The Apple Vision Pro is also positioned at the high-end consumer market with a price tag between €4490 to €4990, and is available via retail sale. Even with the Apple Vision Pro, Apple follows the typical approach of integrating high-end technology into its ecosystem to attract affluent consumers and professionals. This headset appeals to mostly tech enthusiasts and consumers interested in the latest advancements in VR and AR for entertainment, education, and personal productivity. For professional applications, the Apple Vision Pro targets creative fields like graphic design, video production, and marketing due to advanced display and interaction capabilities.

Conclusion and Recommendations

As we wrap up our comparison of the Varjo XR-4 and Apple Vision Pro, it’s clear that each headset has carved out its own niche within the high-end mixed reality market. Let’s summarize what exactly they are a good fit for:

Varjo XR-4

Recommended for:

  • Aerospace, automotive, and engineering industries with ultra-high visual fidelity and precision requirements
  • Industries that use complex simulations for training like surgical simulations, industrial design, and architectural visualization

Key advantages:

  • Dual 4K displays and the highest pixel density available
  • Real-time photorealistic pass-through for professional-grade MR applications
  • Integration with NVIDIA Omniverse
  • Different models tailored to specific security and performance needs, including a model for sensitive or classified environments

Apple Vision Pro

Recommended for:

  • Tech enthusiasts and general consumers seeking the forefront of VR and MR technology for personal use
  • Professionals in creative fields like graphic design, video production, and digital marketing

Key advantages:

  • High-resolution Micro-OLED displays with vibrant colors and deep contrast
  • Ergonomic design and intuitive controls, voice and gesture commands
  • VisionOS with extensive accessibility features
  • The design and technology integrate with the broader Apple ecosystem

To wrap up, it’s clear that both the Varjo XR-4 and Apple Vision Pro are nothing short of revolutionary in their own arenas. If there’s a need for cutting-edge mixed reality with high stakes, Varjo XR-4 is the go-to. It’s a powerhouse with top-level performance, unmatched in the current market, not even by Apple Vision Pro. But the Apple Vision Pro shines in its own way. If you’re someone more inclined towards stylish, user-friendly, Apple ecosystem-fitting technology, you should go for the Apple Vision Pro, and you can have a slice of the future at home or at work.

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Petra Palusova

Written by Petra Palusova

Petra Palusova is writer for the VRX blog with an affinity for all-things-XR. Architect, systems scientist specialized in XR and synthetic environments, Petra is currently active as a product design lead, advisor and researcher delivering best practices, communications and business strategies to technology companies building XR products and platforms. A true jack of all trades!

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