It’s finally here. Magic Leap One releases today for $2,295. Reviews are positive but without the glow one might expect after years of anticipation and $2.3 billion in funding. Still, we’re positive on the step this represents in a longer AR evolution.

One of Magic Leap’s challenges evident today is that it’s a victim of the hype that surrounded it — a metaphor for XR’s current stage. It’s a solid piece of technology that has achieved amazing technical feats in the past 3-4 years. But has it come short of mind-blowing status?

“I don’t want to condemn it just because it can’t meet the absolutely impossible hype that it’s created, that wouldn’t be fair,” said The Verge’s Adi Robinson in her video review (below). “But Magic Leap just doesn’t have the kind of breakthroughs we’ve all been waiting for.”

Another Magic Leap challenge that’s evident through today’s release is the same challenge we’ve examined for AR experiences in general: you can’t really capture it through 2D video for demo purposes. Magic Leap seems to be well aware, and has prevented reviewers from trying.

“Magic Leap didn’t allow us to show you what we saw through the headset though, and we’re upset about that, because the reality of Magic Leap’s technology has already been under scrutiny.” said CNET’s Scott Stein. “I’ll try to explain what I saw to the best of my ability.”

This represents a marketing challenge for Magic Leap, as we’ve examined. In addition to pushing against classic price elasticity — rampant in something that is new/non-vital and pricey — they have to sell new users directly through experience. And that’s a logistical/distribution challenge.

Specs and performance aside, this is again a key milestone in AR’s evolutionary path. It shouldn’t be viewed as an end-point; that will only further industry “disillusionment.” If Google Glass was the Apple Newton of AR glasses, could this be the Palm Pilot on the way towards the iPhone?

The other question is who will bring us that eventual device? Magic Leap? Apple? It could be some combination if Apple acquires Magic Leap (though the latter’s valuation is way outside of Apple’s typical M&A range). Meanwhile we’ll get lots of good stuff along that evolutionary path.

As for today’s release, rather than go down the list of specs, already well covered by venerable XR news outlets, we’ll feature the video reviews above and our recent Magic Leap discussion at AWE below. Stay tuned for more analysis over the coming months as Magic Leap enters the wild.


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Header image credit: CNET