By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
2016 is truly the year that Virtual Reality (VR) breaks into mainstream consumer consciousness with products like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR being made available with game support in many markets.
For Google, VR has been an aspirational part of their ecosystem every since they revealed Google Cardboard a few years ago and this cheap introduction into smartphone-based VR, has been an evolving part of their ecosystem.
Daydream View is Google’s next VR headset and is designed to correspond with the Pixel and Pixel XL but is also open to other devices that fall into the required specs.
Another one of the Made By Google products, the Daydream View offers a friendlier and more comfortable way to watch VR on your smartphone. Rick Osterloh, formerly of Motorola, probably brought former Motorola designer Rhea Jeong along to Google with him, she was one of those talents that made the Moto X and its accessories like the Moto Hint look and feel unique.
The style and colour palette of that device seem familiar in the Daydream View which isn’t made out of hard plastic or cardboard but which merges various rubber and cloth materials into a device that looks and feels organic and inviting. After using it for a week, Daydream VR felt as inviting and comfortable as a familiar pair of jeans. I also like that you can remove the faceplate and wash it if it gets too sweaty or gross from too much use.
There are many clever touches to the Daydream VR that set it aside from other headsets. The neat way it snaps your smartphone into place, the small recessed holder for the VR controller and even the fact that it comes with a remote are huge features that do set it apart from other non wired headsets.
The Pixel XL slots in nicely and its high-res screen is suite to work with this Pixel XL does have a 2K HD display, which plays a big part in creating an immersive and engaging experience.
The Daydream View plus Pixel XL make a good combination, but I found that it was a bit heavy on my face (the device kept sagging), the belt that is used to secure the headset to your face can barely hold it (at least that was my experience). It doesn’t help that the Pixel XL is a bit too big for the Daydream as it sticks out a bit.
After around 20 minutes of use, the Pixel got rather hot to the touch and I noticed that there is a threshold of about 30 minutes where you may want to stop to let the hardware cool off (and also to rest your poor eyes).
Google has an entire Daydream ecosystem in store for users. There’s the Daydream app, which is available for download starting today. The Daydream software offers an entertaining menu system with various app suggestions, most of them are paid though. But there are Google specific apps that are free and worth checking out, YouTube VR is by far the most useful one since there’s already a lot of 360’ video on that service.
Some of the apps I downloaded included Google Arts and Culture which is a virtual art museum where you can learn about artists and their work and even zoom into photos and paintings, Wonderglade which has a variety of puzzles and games that require the use of motion control on the remote. Google Street View brings an even more immersive experience with 360’ views and other applications like the Wall Street Journal App, take the VR approach and place you in the middle of an office with access to articles (text articles. for some reason), some video as well as the latest stock information displayed in 3D.
Star Chart VR makes looking at planets and nearby galaxies possible in VR. The graphics are a bit low-resolution here and I understand that this was necessary in order to make navigation and animation smoother. Just this week I received a VR press release, an introduction to the Baci Perugina specialty chocolate , via a VR YouTube link, introducing the brand ,which took me to sunny Italy where an attractive Italian guide explained the history as well as the creation of these delicious and storied chocolate bonbons.
Compared to more intensive VR experiences like the HTC Vive or the PlayStation VR, the quality and resolution of what is available on Daydream View isn’t as detailed or smooth but that’s fine. Daydream VR costs a lot less ($99 Canadian) than those other solutions and it is far less cumbersome. Daydream View is a great introduction to VR content consumption and definitely does more for users than the Galaxy VR and cardboard-type VR glasses can provide.
There’s not too much content available for Daydream VR right now, unless you count the hundreds of 360’ videos on YouTube right now, so there’s definitely some merit in waiting for more titles to come to the platform. There’s also the chance Google might discount Daydream VR even more as we head closer to the holidays.
- Comfortable, stylish VR headset that feels organic and friendly
- Handy VR remote extends functionality of VR experiences and makes them more interactive
- VR titles are few as of the moment
- Pixel XL devices tend to get hot while using Daydream VR
- VR remote can be a bit kludgy
Daydream VR is one of the easiest and most affordable tools to get into VR today provided you have a smartphone that can support it. While it may not offer the detail and graphics horsepower of more expensive VR platforms, it does a lot to democratize the experience as well as bring serious VR content such as games, videos and immersive experiences into the mainstream.
Rating: 4 out of 5