Over the weekend, I made a trip down to the Twin Cities from Duluth to enjoy a weekend getaway. Besides trying out Minnesota's first adult-only miniature golf course, I decided to book a demo for the Apple Vision Pro while I was in the area.

I'm a bit of an Apple fanboy, having some of their gadgets and devices. Curious about the buzz around the $3,500 Apple Vision Pro headset (but in no way interested in plopping down that kind of cash to buy one), I decided to see what the buzz was about with a demo Apple is offering for these devices in their Apple Stores around the country.

In order to get a demo, you have to book one through the Apple Store app or Apple website. So I did that, selecting from one of the Apple Stores in the Twin Cities. As it turns out,  I picked the store with the most unique demo experience in the region.

I had no idea this was the case, but the Apple specialist who helped me with my demo experience at the Mall of America Apple Store informed me that their unique "fire pit" lounge space is different than any other demo you can get in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

Apple Vision Pro Goes On Sale
Getty Images

The MOA experience is hosted in a semi-oval of couch-like benches (like that seen above) where you can lounge during the experience. Apparently, the other demos in Minnesota and Wisconsin are held in a chair at a table. The next closest place you can get this kind of experience is apparently in Chicago.

I'll break down my experience into a couple of main areas - the Apple Vision Pro device and the demo itself. You'll see why those two different things are both important and different.

The Apple Vision Pro demo experience

Apple Vision Pro Goes On Sale
Getty Images

If you're hoping to just sit down for a while and play with the features, you'll be sorely disappointed. Unlike the other gadgets in an Apple Store, you can't just pick it up and play around with it.

The Apple Vision Pro demo is a very choreographed, scripted experience that follows a specific timeline. The experience is supposed to take about a half hour, but lasted a little over 20 minutes.

After a quick introduction to your Apple specialist, you are shown how to put the device on. There is a specific way you are supposed to grab the device with your left hand and maneuver the strap with your right hand in order to make sure the expensive headset doesn't get fumbled.

Minnesota Now logo
Get our free mobile app

Once the headset is on, your specialist helps you calibrate the device for your vision (adjusting brightness) and then setting up the sensors to allow you to use your eyes as a "pointer", which is how you select things in the user experience. You don't set up all of the features, like personas for video calls, being it is just a quick demo of some features.

Once the device is calibrated, you're shown the value of an immersive, resizable workspace for apps like photos and Safari, moving them around the world and seeing how clear they all look in the 4K screens in front of your eyes. I'll get into more of the experiences with the device in the next section.

The whole demo is all very choreographed, to the point where my Apple specialist actually asked me before we started to be sure that I don't "go rogue" during the demo and just start exploring the device on my own without following the prompts of my specialist.

From Apple's perspective, I'm sure it allows them to show off the best features of the device, provide a uniformly "great" experience for all customers, and avoid any areas that may be "soft spots" in the device's user experience.

While I found that kind of disappointing - not getting to experience typing, Facetiming, or really how I would use the device if I were to want to buy one - the demo does give you a good taste of what the device is all about, and what it's like to use it.

The Apple Vision Pro user experience

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

As I mentioned above, you don't get to do everything the device can do. You dip your toes in the water of having multiple windows open around you as part of the demo. While it takes a couple of seconds to get used to the idea of everything being manipulated by your eyes and finger taps out of your field of vision, it doesn't take much to get used to. It quickly becomes intuitive, which is a very "Apple" thing.

During the demo, you're shown one of their "environments, which can be used to seclude yourself while working, as well as "breakthrough", which is a feature that allows for someone talking to you to appear in that environment if they come into your space while you're working. The environment is highly detailed and does seem quite immersive, and the "breakthrough" feature is a neat little trick that is similar to the adaptive transparency on some of Apple's headphones and earbuds. It pretty seamlessly allows you to leave the device on and still talk to someone else in the room if you're fully immersed.

When you aren't fully immersed, it is pretty impressive how great the passthrough video is. It does look like you're just looking through goggles that are superimposing things onto what you see, when in reality everything you are seeing is through cameras on a pair of 4K screens. This was nearly flawless, with a couple of little glitches in the video during the demo ruining the otherwise impressive illusion.

Also demonstrated during the demo are some cool ways to experience images and videos captured on iPhone, including panoramas and their new 3D "spatial videos" that can be captured on the new iPhone 15 cameras. Everything looks sharp and impressive, and the "mindblowing" element of these visuals floating in front of you does have a sense of futuristic novelty.

All told, the whole device is very "Apple" in how it works. It just does, which is what people say about iPhones and other devices they make. There isn't much of a learning curve at all.

The big "mic drop" moment in the demo was also the big "ah ha!" moment for some of Apple's business moves.

The BIG moment

Apple Vision Pro Goes On Sale
Getty Images

The demo concludes with the entertainment experience. You get a brief sampling of how you can watch a movie or TV show on a massive virtual screen anywhere you are, which is cool.

The grand finale was an "immersive experience" in the Apple TV app on the device. I asked the expert about these, and he said Apple is just starting to make more of these 180-degree 3D experiences, which are admittedly very incredible.

The demo places you right in the middle of some wildlife up close and personal, in the studio with Alicia Keys as she is singing, and immersed in some other wild experiences like rock climbing or walking a tightrope between two cliffs. There was also a taste of a soccer game, watching the action from right on top of the net as someone scored a goal.

I asked about how the number of these experiences is growing, and my expert told me that they are working to make more with partners. The big one that stood out to me is that they are leveraging their MLS and MLB partnerships to allow you to pick from a number of places in a sports venue (including some places you can't normally watch a game from in person) to experience the action in an immersive capacity. That, to me, really grabbed my attention as a way to grow live sports and events viewing. Imagine that for the Super Bowl or a big concert. It also really makes sense when you look at Apple's attempts to continue getting into the entertainment and sports streaming game.

Would I buy one of these things?

Today? No. Not only is $3,500 considerably out of my price range, but despite the high number of "wow factor" elements to this device, there isn't much about it I feel like I just have to have. If it was more like $1,000, I might actually consider it.

Using the device is smooth and polished and the experience certainly feels "futuristic", but it feels like there are limitations in the app availability that would keep this from being a true workhorse for doing everything. While I haven't seen the full list of apps you can use with it, it feels like the majority of uses are geared more toward entertainment and not the true multitasking device it is painted as.

Final thoughts

Despite the demo experience being limited and regimented, the device itself is pretty cool. While there were a couple of video quirks that took away from the illusion, the only other thing I found somewhat underwhelming was the built-in sound pods. The sound is not as rich as you'd expect from a good pair of headphones, or Airpods Pro.

The sound is not bad at all, and certainly decent for being tiny sound devices on the headstrap and not on your ears, but not as rich as you might want for a truly immersive experience. You can use earbuds or headphones with the device, so that is a fixable problem. It just isn't part of the demo experience so you can hear your specialist while being guided.

One other thing that didn't bother me (being seated on a bench) that could be annoying as a user is the battery. It is about the size of an iPhone Max and it is heavy. I picked it up while putting the device on my head, and it is kind of shocking how beefy it is.

Despite some of the "first generation" awkwardness, I can see an expansive future for this device. But I'm going to wait a while for it to mature (and to justify saving up that kind of cash).

All the Outdated Technology From the First ‘Mission: Impossible’