Google Daydream View VR headset review: Top comfort, average experience

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Google Daydream View VR headset review: Top comfort, average experience

irtual Reality (VR) is one of those technologies that has the ability to leave you spellbound. It’s a different matter though that it hasn’t really struck a chord with big chunk of consumers. The lack of popularity, however, hasn’t deterred technology giants from investing in it. There are VR headsets – Oculus Rift, Gear VR, HTC Vive — in the market but they leave quite a big hole in your pocket. Gear VR is also limited exclusively to Samsung devices. In such a market, where traction is still being gathered, Google has launched Daydream VR – a more affordable device. How good is it at handling VR content? If you’re already swayed by the brilliance of VR and are keen to own a VR headset, should you be considering Daydream VR? Read of our review to find out the answers to these questions and more.

Design
Let us tackle the design aspect of Google Daydream View first. Unlike other virtual reality headsets like Oculus, Daydream View is made of a soft cushion like fabric which makes it more comfortable to use. The headset is available in three colour choices – Slate, Snow and Crimson and the one we got for review had Slate coloured fabric on it.

The look and feel of Google Daydream has many things going for it. To begin with, the headset is lightweight, unlike other VR gears that we have used so far. Secondly, the cushioned material at the eye sockets made it easier for us to wear it while we watched different VR content. There is also an elastic strap at the back that helped us adjust the headset and kept it steady while we used it.

Apart from this, there is a front door which holds the users’ smartphone. In case you haven’t used a virtual reality headset earlier, here’s what you need to do to get started:

1. Open the headset’s front door
2. Keep your smartphone in it and close it
3. Place the headset on your head and adjust till the image starts looking clear
4. Adjust the elastic straps
5. Hold a button on the remote control and you’re set to roll

The remote control on Daydream allows you to select various options while one is using the VR headset. We must say that this made the whole VR experience extremely immersive. The remote control is fairly simple to use. It has a clickable trackpad, two buttons to select various functions, and a volume rocker button. It has to be connected the smartphone being used in the VR headset via Bluetooth.

What we particularly liked about the remote is that it senses motion, so you can perform various functions just by tilting or moving the remote. You’ll particularly notice this feature if you download the Fantastic Beasts app. The remote control becomes your wand and the wand moves each time you move the remote control. And to select various objects, you have to click on the trackpad.

Overall, we really liked the look and feel of Google Daydream View – mostly for the comfort that it offers. However, do keep in mind that prolonged usage may leave red lines on your forehead. And also, using any VR headset for too long strains your eyes and there’s a chance you might feel a headache. But that’s not something we can blame Google for, as it is a problem with all VR headsets.

Performance

For a virtual reality fan, Daydream View is – literally and figuratively — virtual treat. As we said, VR can leave you spellbound so evenAnd even those who are not really into it that much can enjoy with the VR headset at least for a while.

There are a number of apps that you can download and play VR content with, though most of them are paid. We used a number of apps and played quite a few games on the VR headset to see how it performed.

To begin with, we would want to say that it’s best to use the VR headset in dark as it shows its true colours there (pun unintended). Not that it performs inadequately in well-lit conditions but still somehow light does manage to sneak in.

We first got acquainted with Daydream Home, which had cartoon like images and gave us the option of choosing the app we want to use and even briefed us with a tutorial before we got started. During the tutorial, we spotted creatures in the forest using our torch (controller), played fetch with an Arctic fox, looked for animals in a desert, and more. Note that you can download apps directly from here and there isn’t always a need to taking your phone out, downloading a new app and then using it.

The obvious place to start was using various apps by Google and we chose the Street View app to begin with. We have already seen content from Google Street View on VR earlier on Cardboard. It’s needless to say that the experience goes up several notches on Daydream View. But it’s not right to compare the two, given the difference in their pricing.

With Google Street View, you can literally go to any famous place in the world. Do it with Daydream VR and its truly an excellent experience. The 360-degree view just makes it more impressive. YouTube was another very obvious app that we tried, and it let us watch VR content as well as other content from its app.

We used Horizons app, which had a number of interactive musical journeys and played music from Bonobo. We could change and control music using the remote control and the interactive and immersive backgrounds changed with it. If you are planning to use this app, do remember to use headphones along with it, otherwise it’s quite pointless.

The app, however, fascinated us most was the we really enjoyed using was Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them – Potterhead alert! — which took us directly inside Newt Scamander’s suitcase. Like we have mentioned earlier, our remote control turned into a wand and whenever we pointed at an object and clicked the trackpad on our remote, a new action was performed. The character’s voice told us what to do and we followed instructions to find the beasts.

Overall, watching VR content on Daydream wasn’t a bad deal — far more comfortable than others for sure give the fabric and cushion-like material it’s made from.

Not to say that it was a flawless as there were a few things which could have been improved on. The content seemed a little uneven at times, and looked a bit caricaturish.

When we watched YouTube videos, some of them seemed a little dull and at times even pixelated, and that was certainly a disappointment. But when the quality of video VR content was really good, there weren’t too many issues.

We also should point out that using apps and games were a much better experience than watching videos on the platform.

Note that your smartphone would become extremely hot after you put it in VR for a long time. You should be prepared to see battery life dwindle as Daydream is a battery guzzler. Compatible smartphones with Daydream View are Google Pixeland Pixel XL , Moto Z , Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus .

Verdict

It wouldn’t be fair to compare Daydream View with headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as they are far more expensive. There are some obvious merits to the VR headset and there are a few flaws. Like we mentioned, the VR experience could have been a little better. Videos were disappointing, but apps and games worked well. There were times when it took time to load the VR content. But still, the overall experience was satisfactory. The remote control and the fact that Daydream is extremely comfortable works massively in its favour . The headset can be used for a longer time than a few other VR gears we have tried. At a price of Rs 6,499, the Daydream View is good buy. It offers a comfortable user experience and the VR experience is satisfactory. But – and mostly there’s always a but – it falls short of being a great buy.




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