It’s been here for a while. VR has been in front of consumer eyes but for a price and at the opposite end of the spectrum we have Google Cardboard that could give a glimpse of what VR could be without the need of an expensive PC, console or gaming rig. What about the space in between? That’s where the Google Daydream headset comes in. A simple fabric covered headset with minimal technology, to offer at an affordable cost a better VR experience without the need to dedicate a space, a hefty price or even wires!
The Daydream View is exactly what Google thinks strikes the right balance of VR experience and affordability to hit the masses.
The headset is by itself a dumb device with no electronics. It’s basically a refined Google Cardboard that comes with a small Bluetooth remote. You need a compatible smartphone to power the Daydream and actually use it. The list is not the longest but it includes about 8 devices from ZTE, Huawei, Motorola and the two Google Pixels .
The small remote is where most of the hardware is located. It’s a Bluetooth remote that pairs with your Google Pixel (or compatible smartphone) to offer you a pointer in the virtual world. You can point and click, and most important of all, re-centre the cursor. More on that in a minute.
You take your Pixel phone and slide it inside the headset, tie it solidly with the rubber band and you are good to go. Install the headset on your head and tighten the headband.
- Fabric covered headset
- Wireless pointing remote
- Headset has no electronic
- Smartphone powered with compatible device
Wearing the Gear
After installing the Daydream app, you can quickly jump into the VR experience by setting the headset on your head. The headset is easy to install and adjust to the proper size for your head. Once in the app, you are brought into a virtual world to onboard you into the experience. You are explained how to look around and use the pointing controller. After this, you can then use the included VR App Store to download different apps and games.
Up to this point the experience is very interesting and immersive. The App Store has featured apps for each section and more apps if you drill down deeper in the store. Many are free and many are paid apps that offer a more intense experience. You will mostly jump-scare games or interactive stories.
After a good 30 minutes though the headset started to feel heavy. I was using it with the Pixel XL by the way. This the best experience, in my opinion, as it offers the wide field of view. Unless I could rest my head, I would not tackle a full Netflix movie with the Daydream.
One of the very original ideas is the Google Street View app that can take you, virtually, to very real places on the globe. I particularly liked visiting the Machu Picchu with 360˚ photos. The illusion is so believable that once I was standing on the edge of a precipice, I surprised myself feeling vertigo. :)
With the Netflix app, you are brought to a cottage in the mountains and presented with a large cinema display, a red couch and a coffee table. On the right wall famous Netflix series posters and on the left a window to snowy peaks. A perfect setup to enjoy a great movie! At first the movie is very pixelated but once it’s been running for a few minutes, it’s perfect and I did enjoy the experience. If the headset was lighter, it would have been even better though, as I would not see me watch the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition with the Daydream.
The kids enjoyed the adventure types games and stories. The weight, once again, and the adjustments not being easy to change when the kids are passing it around made for the most complains. For one person, once you get the headset setup you are good to go but when multiple individuals try it, you have to constantly adjust it and it takes a few tries to get it right. Kids also love the experience though!
That Temperature Though!
After a relatively short VR session, maybe 30-40 minutes, the Pixel XL phone got so hot that I could barely hold it in my hand. Now I know that all that VR stuff is bleeding edge, but that could not be a good thing for the phone to keep running at its maximum processing speed and crank out that much heat. Especially that the whole back of the phone is made of aluminum and acts as a heat sink. I’m pretty sure that once we get dedicated chips in future devices for VR related tasks that this will not be a problem anymore. Until then, expect your phones to be hot like never before!
I can see affordable VR having a great place in our houses. Still, it’s not a social experiment and will need to be added to our human interactions consideration, like don’t check your phone at every notification when you’re around others. But the experiences are cool and fresh enough to warrant some kind of investment to experience it. Not sure everyone should jump on the budget intense PlayStation VR kit but the Google Daydream platform is a great one that requires less of an investment if you have a compatible phone.
The quality of the Daydream headset is amazing and I really love the attention to details. I would strongly suggest you invest in a dust repealing gadget like the O2 Hurricane to blow away all the dust particles on both sides of the lens as they are very much apparent since the image is zoomed and so are the dust particles.
- Design, quality
- Comfort and adjustments
- Very affordable
- Remote is great
- Still too heavy
- Adjustment not quick enough
- Pixel XL runs super hot
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