Magic Leap One Hands-on Suggests a Headset That’s a Lot Like HoloLens


Ahead of the launch of the Magic Leap One, several press outlets got a chance to see the device up close and personal. The Verge’s Adi Robertson was among those who got to peer through the purported magical device, but came away feeling like the headset doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from Microsoft’s HoloLens, which launched two years prior.

Robertson, who has a long history of quality VR and AR reporting at The Verge, has been following the Magic Leap story closely. After finally getting to demo the Magic Leap One, she suggests that the device is more of a ‘Magic Step’ than it is a ‘Magic Leap’.

Combined with the comfort factor, it makes Magic Leap one of the best (if not the best) pieces of mixed reality hardware I’ve seen. But after all of Magic Leap’s descriptions of its unique hyper-advanced light field technology, it didn’t feel categorically different from something like HoloLens—which was released two years ago, and has a second generation on the horizon. I’m not convinced Magic Leap’s photonics chip is practically that different from other mixed reality waveguides, or that Magic Leap is doing something other companies couldn’t replicate.

You can read her detailed hands-on expose on The Verge here, while below is a concise video summary that shows the headset in action:

As a self-contained AR headset, comparisons to HoloLens are unavoidable. And while Robertson says that Magic Leap’s field of view is larger than HoloLens’, it’s still fundamentally limiting to the immersive experience, since the headset can only augment a small portion of your field of view at any given time.

Image courtesy The Verge

Magic Leap spent a lot of its teasing over the years touting a novel display technology, giving it fanciful nicknames like “holographic,” “cinematic reality,” and “dynamic digital light field.” But Robertson says, regardless of the tech, she’s not seeing a meaningful differentiation in the end experience, as Magic Leap has suggested through its tease campaigns.

Image courtesy The Verge

Stripping away expectations that the company drummed up over the years, surely having a cheaper, more comfortable HoloLens with a wider field of view—if that’s all Magic Leap turns out to be—is a good thing for the AR space, even if it isn’t the ‘magic leap’ forward that the company hyped.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • When vision collides with reality. They effectively revealed a reverse engineered Hololens that has incremental upgrades, something that MS will probably not-so-magically leap past in Q1/19.

    This has done more harm than good to the AR space due to the brilliantly done hype. AR still looks bleak. Maybe we are asking to much from electronics.

    But yeah, another AR device running mostly parallel to what we already have is competition so there is that.

    • dk

      yes having the belt pack is not great …..but it’s pretty great for right now
      the headset is smaller lighter on your head…..easier to deal with heat and size of battery and compute unit …..and it’s cheaper to manufacture instead of shrinking everything and cramming it in a headset
      and if u could unplug the headset it could be sold separately for way cheaper and u won’t have power limits of the mobile hardware …..they really should have had a version like that
      …but sure the future is all in one

      • Doctor Bambi

        And honestly, those benefits will still be applicable no matter how small and thermal friendly components get. You will always be able to cram more compute and battery capacity into a device that sits on your hip vs your head.

        Plus we already keep phones in our pockets, this isn’t that foreign of a concept compared to what we already deal with. The tether between headset and compute is a pretty big compromise though that will turn off a lot of people. But my guess is these two design philosophies will continue to butt heads for the foreseeable future.

        • dk

          yep ….but the form factor is pretty annoying ….also not being able to disconnect the headset is also annoying

    • Mei Ling

      Perhaps the technology for AR that most people have envisioned inside their heads (such as in Minority Report and other movies) just doesn’t exist yet.

      Everyone is impatient. Give it time and AR will get there because there’s simply no better alternative to visual information through technology; AR and VR is the holy grail, the final destination. It’s all a matter of time.

    • Adrian Meredith

      That puck will be many times more powerful than what’s in the hololens and not having that bulk on your head will make it much more comfy

  • dk
    • Massimo Depero


  • jeff courtney

    Its way to expensive and unattainable by the common and general public.It should be packed with software and be available in different packs.One at 500 and up to 700.I can say that it is all in one so thats cool…having no phone or pc as well as sonsors not needed.Its great ar and vr are in the consumers and publics eye and it just opens up avenues of competition to make it available at affordable price points.Praise Jesus!

    • Andrew Jakobs

      But this one is not targeted at the common general public..

      • jeff courtney

        I realize it but when gear vr innovators came out it was attainable and affordable at 200.The dk2 was 400 and a development kit.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Yep, and when the Hololens came out it was $3000+, and the hololens is more comparable..

    • MosBen

      A product’s MSRP isn’t whatever price you think, without little to know actual knowledge, the company should sell it for. If that were the case, then every product would be free. These devices are at least currently expensive to make. I don’t know how expensive, but if they could sell it for less and still be at least close to making a profit, they would sell it for the lower price. They simply can’t. Maybe that means that AR isn’t ready for consumer prime time, but it doesn’t mean that whoever set the retail price just didn’t have your brilliant insight that $500 is less, and people like paying less.

      • Bronson

        “if they could sell it for less and still be at least close to making a profit, they would sell it for the lower price.” Not really, it’s much likely they’re simply being greedy. I think we may be shocked if we knew the production price.

        • MosBen

          That’s certainly not the case for a lot of electronics, especially when you take development costs into account. So do you have some kind of amazing inside information, or are you, as I suspect, simply inventing this theory for some inane reason.

  • Luke

    why thet can’t do it 150° fov?

    • Anonymous247

      FOV is constrained by memory bandwidth and power consumption. Each additional degree is exponentially more difficult to deal with. This design was being conservative–get something reasonable out the door for developers.

  • Facts

    By 2030 we should have a legit working augmented reality headset that everyday consumers can afford. for now my eyes are on the pimax 8k

    • JJ

      no and hellllll nooo the pimax doesn’t work, I have one… and its not real 8k its more like two 4k monitors. as well it will only be 5-10 years till we have better ar headsets not 2030 so yes by 2030 we will have good ar

  • Miqa

    Images of Magic Leap with the Verge watermark that are courtesy of HoloLens :P
    Ben, go home you’re drunk.

    • benz145

      lol this was a quality mind-fart. I guess they are pretty similar after all? : P

      Thanks for pointing this out, fixed.

    • dk

      courtesy of HoloLens
      now we know what he thinks :P jk


    Good thing about the beltclip-unit: easily to upgrade for a hopefully more powerful „discman“ in the future…

  • Molmir

    Magic Leap becoming the Pepsi of AR, satisfying the Bureau of Competition.

    • WyrdestGeek

      I think you hit the nail on the head– that’s a very Honest Trailer way of putting it.

  • Xron

    The competition is nice, but I hope they will release consumer level devices by 2020 atleast…

  • Foreign Devil

    I bet the real magic leap will be an AR HMD that Apple announces completely out of left field at their next big press show.

    • WyrdestGeek

      I really *hope* that happens, but I’m not holding my breath.

      Apple just isn’t the same these days, IMHO.

  • VirtualRealityNation

    I have enterprise customers commissioning my company to build experiences / presentations for them with the Hololens. I am gambling that the next Hololens that comes out in Q1 2019 will be superior then this Magic Leap. I don’t know by how much more, but considering they will have had three years to improve the specs, and supposedly are planning to lower the price significantly I have high hopes. Let’s Go Big FOV!!!

    • JJ

      hey i do the same thing and i agree!

  • AndyP

    It’s a really bad idea to over promise and under deliver when there is only a small natural market for your product (enterprise) – and one that’s already mostly satisfied by an existing product. It wasn’t intentional, but VR was growing a large natural market (i.e. one not invented by advertising etc) as early as the 90s and the first 3D games (and Voodoo 3dfx etc), Star Trex Next Gen…

    • Lucidfeuer

      It’s not a bad idea, it’s just not what Magic Leap was intended to be (a real company with a real product)…

  • oompah

    Can I play Skyrim in it?

    • dk

      u can stream a video feed to it

    • Bronson

      Yes, but only on your monitor and you’ll look silly doing it.

  • Kenji Fujimori

    Made in China or the US?

    • dk

      they make the waveguides ….and it said made in Mexico somewhere

      • Kenji Fujimori

        Cool, thanks for that.

  • sfmike

    It REALLY appears underwhelming.

  • Lucidfeuer

    Magic Leap is a fascinating one of a kind story of money, marketing and tech.

    It probably started as a techwashing money laundering scheme given every time those same companies invested unjustifiable amounts of investment on overhyped but abstract and unverified nor supported promises, it turned out to be, of course, vaporware.

    But the mistake they made is that subject of the scheme was targeting consumers devices, not B2B, and the excitement generated the hype which then generate the expectation…which by default and because the fundamental science is not even there to provide “a revolutionary augmented reality device that could sell millions”, was doomed to never happen.

    Luckily, following the emerging VR hype, Microsoft decided to go the AR route (and it’s probably one the things that hindered VR the most, while pushing AR a bit forth), and now AR glasses were actually a non-practical but real products you could eventually build. So Magic Leap actually had an opportunity to just really build a product that doesn’t justify anywhere near the amount that was “invested” in the company, and of course it would turn-out to be nothing more than an updated HoloLens…as it’s as far as today’s science and technology allowed from the beginning…

    Now let’s see what they did better than the HoloLens (besides the more compact format).

    • Sponge Bob

      A suppposedly “6 DoF” controller ?

      Not one has 6 Dof controller for standalone VR or AR
      The one that works I mean

  • I came here hoping to see your review. I’m disappointed :(

    I’ll patiently wait…

  • cataflic

    I always knew that hype is like a warm coat to cover a disappointing product level.
    If you have a gold nugget, you want to reveal it as soon as possible.

  • jeff courtney

    Both leap and microsoft said they would sell for around five hundred.Dont quote me but I read it somewhere and after now about three years hololens is still no closer to affordable.Praise Jesus!

    • JJ

      Hail Satan!

  • sebrk

    I so want everything to succeed. But MFW Magic Leap over-promises with pre-rendered videos and turns out to be “another HoloLens”… well it’s just sad

  • RJH

    Here’s a nice Youtube review…
    Magic Leap One Review by hardcore dev via @YouTube #VR #AR

  • Kenji Fujimori

    Better to have two American companies lead then Chinese junk