Google's $79 Daydream View is ready to go on sale — and the early reviews suggest it's worth the purchase, offering an accessible way to experience smartphone-powered virtual reality.
While tethered VR headsets such as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift are expensive and require even more expensive VR-ready PC rigs, mobile VR involves just an inexpensive accessory to a smartphone.
Google first launched such a gadget with its original Google Cardboard, a cheap option yet quite limited. Samsung launched its Gear VR, but it only works with select high-end Samsung smartphones. Google is now taking it to the next level with Daydream, retaining the affordability but adding more oomph compared to the Cardboard. VR is now more accessible with Daydream View, so here's what the early reviews are saying.
Daydream Glare, But Game-Changing Controller
Stephen Hall from 9to5 Google notes that the Daydream View VR gadget is not perfect, its design could use some improvement so the sides close off completely to avoid having any glare, but it's delivers a good experience overall and the controller is truly game-changing. On the downside, Hall says he got quite nauseous after using the Daydream for more than a half an hour, and using it every day for a week got tough at times.
"Daydream View doesn't have any super-fancy hardware or high-tech features, but that's not what makes this a great VR experience," says Hall. "The entire point of the Daydream View is that it offers immersive and interactive VR for the any person. I really do think that the best way to describe this headset is as a natural evolution of Cardboard."
Hall further points out how neatly Daydream View builds on the Cardboard and improves the whole experience, adding a good VR app, a comfortable and attractive VR headset and an easy-to-use controller for navigating VR apps with ease.
"All of these improvements, together, I think are worth your $79, and there's so much potential for this to get even better in the coming months," he adds.
'Easy To Use, Intuitive, And Just Damn Awesome'
TechSpot's Tim Schiesser, meanwhile, highlights how comfortable Daydream is and easier to manage than the Gear VR, but echoes Hall's complaint about the light seeping through the gaps on the sides of the headset. As opposed to Hall, Schiesser says he had no issues with nausea or fatigue after extended Daydream immersion.
Schiesser also praises the great controller that comes with Daydream, noting that navigation is a breeze.
"It's easy to use, intuitive, and just damn awesome," says Schiesser. "Navigation feels far, far more natural than the awkward headset-mounted control pad on the Gear VR, and natural interface systems are always the easiest to use. With Daydream, all you need to do is point and click for the most part."
'Best Mobile Headset I've Ever Used'
Adi Robertson from The Verge also has positive things to say about Google's new Daydream View, noting that it's the best mobile headset she's ever used. The fabric is soft and comfortable, the form factor is smaller, lighter and more portable than the Samsung Gear VR, and it's easy to wear even for hours at a time without getting uncomfortable.
Robertson says she has sometimes "put off using the Gear VR because of its clumsy setup," but the Daydream View raises no such issues. On the other hand, she does note that others may not find it as easy and comfortable to use as she did. Some people tend to pull the headband too tight to make up for the fact that it doesn't have an overhead strap, which might cause a headache or a tilt that lets light slip in.
"Once you've found the perfect View adjustment, it feels great — or at least, it does for me," writes Robertson. "But if you let a friend try one for a few minutes, they might just think it's ill-fitting."
At the same time, she notes that the Google Pixel and Pixel XL don't offer the same experience with Daydream View. Although both smartphones are powerful and boast highly responsive displays, the smaller Google Pixel narrows the field by a few degrees and leaves "slim vertical bars around the edge of your vision."
"Even with these caveats, though, the View offers a great core experience without a major investment of time, money, or effort — a truly casual kind of virtual reality," adds Robertson.
'It Feels Like It Should Do So Much More'
As promising and great as the Daydream View is at this point, it could still use some work to make it even better. It's just getting started, however, and Google did promise to improve on the experience. For instance, Daydream View doesn't have a slew of apps for now, but it should get them over time.
Considering that Daydream is deeply integrated with Android, however, Robertson notes that "it feels like it should do so much more." With Pixel, Google Assistant and Daydream Google could work some real magic, delivering some amazing experiences for all sorts of things rather than the limited possibilities currently available.
Nevertheless, the Google Daydream View is a neat gadget and at $79, it offers a great experience without breaking the bank. The controller is among the best parts of Daydream View, but the ease of use and comfortable build are also noteworthy. Overall, Daydream View seems like a successful product well worth the $79 investment.