Magic Leap Has Launched, Hopefully With Parachutes
After years of hype, closed-door demonstrations, and billions raised in funding, the Magic Leap is finally available to order, for $ 2,295. The new Creator Edition isn’t the mass market product supposedly launching later this year with AT&T. In fact, you’ll only be able to buy it in six cities: Los Angeles, Miami, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle.
This isn’t exactly the stuff that dreams are made of. If you’re in the select cities, you’ll receive “complimentary delivery, fit and set-up service.” If you aren’t in select cities, you can place a reservation and receive your hardware later. A $ 495 ” “professional development package” for users who need Magic Leap replaced within 24 hours if it breaks is also available. Not only is that a huge premium to place on an overnight warranty service, it’s a huge leap of faith to assume anyone is ever going to need to replace a Magic Leap within 24 hours of the last one breaking.
The Creator Edition contains Lightwear headgear, the Lightpack computing pack, handheld controller, multiple chargers, and a quick start guide, VentureBeat reports. The device itself contains its own operating system (LuminOS), Helio web browser, several sample applications, a video player, an object creation tool, and “coming soon,” an immersive game. Given the quality of launch titles in your average console release, I wouldn’t place any bets on discovering the next Doom, Quake, or Wolfenstein when the title drops. You might be lucky to wind up with something on Blake Stone’s quality level.
Also, Magic Leap VP Jeff Gattis, in charge of the company’s “go to market” strategy, just quit on the eve of the product launch. You couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of confidence in the underlying product than that.
The Lightpack uses an Nvidia Parker SoC, with two Project Denver CPU cores and a quad-core of Cortex-A57 CPUs. Developers will have access to one Denver core and two of the A57’s for running applications. GPU performance is provided by the onboard Pascal-derived GPU, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (95GB available). Battery life is estimated at “up to 3 hours of continuous use.”
Based on an afternoon with Magic Leap, the Magic Leap One Creator Edition… is a functional, thoughtfully designed headset with some very real advantages over competitors like the Microsoft HoloLens. But it doesn’t seem like a satisfying computing device or a radical step forward for mixed reality. Magic Leap’s vision is a compelling alternative to that of Silicon Valley’s tech giants. But there’s a baffling disconnect between its vast resources and parts of its actual product. I genuinely believe Magic Leap has given me a glimpse of the future of computing, but it might take a long time to reach that future, and I’m not sure Magic Leap will be the company that gets there first.
The author notes that he spent time demoing Magic Leap in what ought to be the absolute best-case scenario for the product — inside Magic Leap’s laboratories and development station, with full, in-person support from the company’s employees. “I still left worried,” he writes. Presumably, the demos he saw look more like the one linked above, and less like the Whale demo Magic Leap used to deploy, shown below.
It’s at this point that all the usual suspects come out to play. The field of view is small and limited. The overall image quality is mediocre, at best. Objects appear to be three-dimensional but are often blurry or ethereal-looking. And there are real issues related to what the hardware can track at once and how much power it burns doing so. Overall, the Verge felt that the hardware made for a promising demo and not much more, with enough limitations and problems that it simply doesn’t make sense to buy into right now. And it’s not at all clear what the company has done with its billions in funding, because it ought to have far more impressive software and games to demo, given the enormous amount of money it’s received (north of $ 2B) and the caliber of the teams associated with the device.
From where we sit, Magic Leap doesn’t look like much of a jump forward at all. If you were hoping for a HoloLens-like product that solved all the problems HoloLens has, you’re going to be disappointed. If this is the future, the future is a long ways off.