Your Gate to Virtual Reality or Another Scam to Get You Daydreaming?
If you would like a taste of virtual reality, you will naturally gain interest in headsets like Google Daydream View. However, competition in the field is tight, so it is in your best interest to check out the products available and compare them, in order to identify the ones that provide the most value for the money.
We’ll provide all the information you need in order to decide if Google Daydream View makes a worthwhile investment, and we’ll even help you assess how it fares against its toughest competitors, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus GO, Lenovo Mirage Solo, or HTC Vive Focus.
About Google Daydream View
Google’s creation, similar to Samsung Gear VR, requires that you slot your smartphone into it in order to access virtual reality. It is quite solidly built and has received numerous improvements since its initial release. However, newer releases like Oculus Go, Lenovo Mirage Solo, and HTC Vice threaten to leave it behind.
From this point of view, Google’s creation is a VR vessel, a means to an end. It helps you enjoy virtual reality as it is delivered through various devices, apps, and games. When buying it, you actually pay for a solution to use your smartphone in order to play VR games.
This actually means that, when you use the headset, your experience with it will almost always depend on the technical specifications of your smartphone, especially on its processing power, resolution, and battery life.
The new Google Daydream View, as mentioned-above, has received a number of improvements since the first version was released.
Here are the most important:
- The initial model had a soft fabric cover that seemed more fragile. The new one is made from a more resistant material that has a patterned stitchwork and comes in several color options: charcoal, coral, and fog.
- The new model is lighter than its predecessor.
- While the initial model had two straps, the new one comes with a third strap that connects the headset’s top forehead area to the backhead area, where the two straps meet.
All in all, the new version looks and feels better than the initial one.
Despite the lighter weight, Google Daydream View weighs quite heavy on the front side. The third strap should take away some of the weight, but you should still expect to see a red line on your forehead after wearing the headset for a couple of hours.
You can expect the straps to feel a little uncomfortable on your head. Finding the best position and obtaining the right focus will not be easy either. Leaving the pressure on your temple and forehead aside, it will take quite some fiddling.
You will have to tie the straps really tight in order to achieve the optimum fit. When you remove the headset, you still feel like wearing it for a few minutes afterwards. Moreover, the red line lingering on your forehead is quite unsightly.
The good news is that the interior of the Google Daydream View is well-cushioned and soft, so it feels quite comfortable on your face. It fits well over glasses. You can also remove the cushioning if you want. Despite the cushioning, some light still comes in through the sides. In order to avoid any inconveniences related to outside light, including the lens flare effect, it is best to use the headset in darker rooms.
The controller is now located in the back of the headset, and a loop in the straps’ meeting point lets you tuck away the controller when you are not using it. The solution may not be very elegant, but it does improve comfort and helps you prevent losing the controller.
Google Daydream View Performance
Using the Daydream View is relatively easy. After putting on the headset and placing your smartphone in the dedicated slot, all you have to do is use the controller. It works like a remote and lets you navigate through the menu and the available apps and games.
Sometimes, the connection between the headset and the controller fades, but you can easily restore it from the home button. When the connection fails, the video you’re looking at glitches and the view is thrown off center. Having to restart the device and the connection can be annoying, especially when you’re really absorbed by the experience.
Unlike Oculus Touch and other competing devices, the controller of Google Daydream View has no positional tracking. However, despite its somewhat limited capabilities, most apps and games should run just fine. Your controller may become a wand, a weapon, or whatever it needs to be in order to let you play your game of choice, and it should transport you into the VR world.
It is important to note that Daydream supports quite a few games and apps. They range from basic puzzle games to elaborate releases, YouTube VR and cinematic experiences. You can experience all kinds of VR, and chances are you will enjoy the experience.
The trick is that most games, photos and videos seem attractive during the first few minutes. After you’ve tested the games and got a taste of what the videos and photos have to offer, there will be little to draw you back in.
You probably won’t be able to continue using the headset for too long, because it will start feeling uncomfortable after half an hour or so. You may experience neck pain and headaches, even nausea. This happens even with motionless VR experiences.
According to some user reviews, the feeling of discomfort could be due to Google Daydream View’s lag in rendering content. The delay is natural, considering that you use a phone, and not some high-performance computer to experience VR reality. Another issue you should expect from time to time is the screen door effect.
The good news is that not all VR experiences involve lags or the screen door effect. Your experience will depend both on the type of content and on the specifications of the smartphone you use. If you’ve tried other headsets, it may help you to know that Oculus Go provides better resolution and crisper images. Of course, it is also more expensive than Google Daydream View, so it is up to you to decide if the resolution difference is worth the price difference.
Finally, keep in mind that the battery life of your smartphone will pay the price of your VR experience. It will not drain immediately, but it will get sucked up quite fast, so, if you are on the go, consider taking some precautions, or monitor your use to make sure you don’t run out of battery.
Google Daydream View Compatibility
Initially, Google Daydream View had limited compatibility. However, its developer has solved this problem in the meantime. The device is currently compatible with a wide range of smartphones.
You’ll find the most popular of them listed below.
- Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL from Google
- Galaxy Note 8, S8, S8+, S9, and S9+ from Samsung
- ZenFone AR from Asus
- Moto Z and Moto Z 2 Force from Motorola
- Axon 7 from ZTE
- Mate 9 Pro and Porsche Design Mate 9 from Huawei
Keep in mind that Google adds new compatible smartphones to the list periodically, so the fact that your phone was not on their list at the time of this review does not mean you cannot use the VR headset with it.
Google Daydream View Technical Specifications
- Dimensions: 6.6 in x 4.6 in x 3.9 in, 9.2 oz
- Made of lightweight fabric
- Available colors: charcoal, coral, fog
- Controller dimensions: 4.1 in x 1.3 in x 0.6 in, 1.4 oz
- 9 axis IMU sensors for improved tracking precision
- Wireless: Bluetooth LE (low energy)
- USB-C port
- 220 mAh battery
Google Daydream View Price and Warranty Details
The device currently costs $99 and benefits from free shipping. When the initial model was launched, its price was of $79. Throughout time, it fluctuated, reaching amounts as low as $49. As all Google devices, the headset comes with a warranty of one year.
Leaving numbers aside, the headset is not the cheapest on the market, but has much more expensive competitors as well. It is entirely up to you to decide whether it is worth the price. Just make you’re your smartphone is compatible with it and decide whether you’re willing to use it in order to experience VR.
Google Daydream View Strengths
- Made of durable material
- Comfortable design, does not allow too much light to infiltrate
- Removable third strap to improve comfort and keep the headset in place
- Compatible with a wide range of devices
- Affordable price
- Decent performance
- Google improves it regularly
- Depends on a smartphone to function
- The content and the device playing it determine your experience
- It weighs heavy on the front and may become uncomfortable when worn for longer periods
- Users may experience the screen door effect and glitches when the connection fails
- Limited battery life
As mentioned above, this headset is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It helps you access VR through your smartphone, keeping you dependent on it. Therefore, before buying it, you should make sure your device is VR ready and compatible. Then, although portability is advertised as a main strength of the headset, keep in mind that taking it with you anywhere you go is a tricky issue.
It is lightweight, indeed, but it is not too discreet, so, if you use it in a public place, prepare to see people staring at you. Also, the room you use it in should be dark, to avoid light infiltration. You should also use it in a safe place, as you have no way of remaining aware of your surroundings when you dive into virtual reality.
If you find the idea of using Google Daydream View as a home entertainment device acceptable, you’ll have plenty of games and apps to choose from, including Netflix VR. Of course, not all of them work at their best, and your experience won’t always be compelling and exciting. However, you’re paying half the price of other standalone headsets, so that should count for something as well.
To sum up, if you already have a compatible Android phone and you wish to experience VR without paying more than $100 and without caring too much about precision and small details, Google Daydream View could be the right option for you. If you decide to invest in it, don’t forget to leave a comment and share your own experience with it below!
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