Technology

Review: Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Headset

Modern technology on a budget. Is it possible?
One of the worlds most successful and well known brands, Google, has gone humble, with a gadget offering virtual reality in cardboard packaging.
But can a cheap, cardboard headset really offer the same kind of quality as it’s hi-end competitors?

Google has entered the world of virtual reality, in an unusual way.
Google has created their own niche in the virtual reality market, offering an immersive hi-tech experience … for around $10?

But is this even possible we hear you cry? Surely this must be some kind of unique gimmick Google are offering, somehow linking to a clever advertising tactic?

But no, so far it seems legit. So how does it actually compare, and is it really worth saving the pennies (and the environment) and going for a cardboard virtual reality headset?

Accessibility

The device aims to be accessible to all, as it’s so cheap and easy to produce that you can use the plans off the cardboard website and create the device yourself, so it’s virtually free. We would recommend purchasing Google’s headset for $10 though just to guarantee you’ll get the best experience with the device possible.

The only real requirement is that you own a Smartphone with a screen up to 6 inches wide. And as most of us do these days it looks like most of us can experience the virtual world for ourselves

How it Works

Unlike most virtual reality headsets, Google’s actually uses your Smartphone to act as the screen and uses specific Apps you can download to help create the complete virtual reality experience.

A flat circular magnet on the side of the headset acts as a click function, simply slide the disc down and release for the magnet to snap back to place and be considered as a click. For such a cheap device the whole concept of this we thought was quite clever and a great little retro twist as well and making the product more interactive.

So to use the Google Virtual Reality Headset you simply download one of the Apps from the App Store specifically designed to work with this product and then place your phone in the section at the back of the headset. Once you’ve placed your phone inside the headset you simply look through the two eye lenses to get the virtual reality experience.

Wearability

This is where you see the cost difference. Firstly simple things like the fact most Google cardboard devices don’t come with a headband, meaning after a few minutes your arms become tired and the section resting on your nose starts to feel a little uncomfortable. The product also lets light in which does deter from a full immersive experience.

In comparison, a more expensive headset such as the Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus use a comfortable headband and padding around the eyes, meaning the device can be worn for hours without any aches or pains and the area around the eyes is sealed so it becomes a lot easier to become engrossed in what you’re looking at. Lastly the overall visual quality is noticeably better, though you can blame your phone for the difference rather than Google.

The lenses are a fixed width apart, which is common for most VR headsets. However as the lenses on the Google headset are considerably smaller than it’s competitors this can be much more of a hinderance to the user. Despite this though the overall visual effect really is incredible, particularly when you bare in mind you’re effectively holding a cheap cardboard box.

But Google weren’t completely out of their minds when they made the decision to create a headset out of cardboard. Considering they wanted to make a cheap device that could be recreated easily, cardboard is one of the best materials out there that fit’s the job description. It is also incredibly lightweight, which is nothing but beneficial for a headset.

Conclusion

We think it’s important to be somewhat lenient with the comparison of a VR Headset made of cardboard to other high-end ones out there that have clearly worked with a much larger budget. It obviously isn’t going to measure up in quite the same way as doesn’t try to. In fact when you compare hundreds of dollars to the budget price tag it really is amazing what Google have managed to achieve.
Granted the overall virtual reality experience isn’t as astounding as that of say the Oculus Rift. However the Google headset offers a great virtual reality experience nonetheless despite the constraints and limitations of the physical product.

If you take your virtual experiences seriously they of course go for the higher end headsets, however for a lot of us out there who are experiencing virtual reality for the first time, Google’s VR headset offers a gateway introduction that is fun and practically free to try.

We applaud Google for offering a cheaper alternative to the virtual world and think that this little piece of kit could actually help promote the hi-end headsets by getting the general public excited about virtual reality in the first place, which in turn helps to push the whole VR industry forward.

So whether you’re an expert in the field or someone looking to have a bit of fun with a new product, we recommend this to everyone as a great introduction to virtual reality and it’s possibilities.

August 31, 2015  |  11:24:22

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