Google has launched the Daydream View VR headset in India priced at Rs. 6,499. The headset is available exclusively on Flipkart.
Augmented reality and Virtual reality have been around for a really long enough time now, but honestly the budget experience has been quite gimmicky. There are a bunch of Google Cardboard powered VR headsets out there, that offer strictly utilitarian experiences. If you want good VR experience you need to spend a fortune on a PC and the Oculus Rift/HTC Vive. You may also get a PS4 with the PlayStation VR, but that will not be cheap either.
On the other hand, there are mobile VR headsets, like the Google Daydream view. It is priced at Rs. 6,499 and works with a bunch of smartphones, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, Moto Z, ZTE Axon 7, and Huawei Mate 9 Pro. For all intents and purposes, there are just two phones in India that support the Daydream — the Pixels and the Moto Z. Daydream support is coming soon to the Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+ as well. The bottom line is that to enjoy the Daydream View, you need an expensive handset.
What's in the box?
In the box, you get the headset and motion controller. The controller can be charged using a USB-C cable which isn't included.
Build and Design
The first thing you will notice about the Daydream View is that it is very well built. The exterior is covered with this soft fabric material, similar to what you'd find on a sofa, and that's a good thing. The flap that houses the smartphone is made of hard plastic and its hinge is dependable.
There is only one strap, which goes around your head. I was skeptical about this at first, thinking the headset would wobble, but turns out that that wasn't the case. The lack of the overhead band isn't missed and the Daydream View feels comfortable.
You don't need to sync the smartphone in any particular position. Just place it in the middle of the the housing and it self calibrates the position for a comfortable experience.
Putting the headset on and adjusting it is a no brainer. The only problem I had with it is that there is a lot of light bleeding into the headset that hampers the experience. I thought this was a problem with me since I wear big glasses, but that's not the case. Others who tried my headset on faced the same problem.
Overall the build quality of the headset and the controller are pretty good, with curious loopholes.
Setting up the daydream headset was as simple as downloading the Daydream app on the Pixel and inserting the phone into the headset. When you do this for the first time, you are taken through a tutorial of what the Daydream is capable of, before being introduced to the VR Play Store.
Once in the Play Store, you are greeted with a slew of paid and free apps to chose from. If you thought content would be limited, you thought wrong. It’s limited in streaming services right now, with only Google Play Movies, YouTube and Netflix being compatible, but there are plenty of other apps to try out. The only other drawback of the app store is that there is no way to easily search for apps. You have to scroll through them, which is a bummer.
We played a bunch of free games and horror experiences. When compared to other mobile VR headsets, the Daydream offers surprisingly fluid performance. The Nintendo Wii-like remote makes it all the more seamless and immersive.
Speaking of the controller, it has a big button that doubles up as a touch controller, an action button and a home button. There is also a volume rocker on the remote. The controller is motion sensitive, just like the Wii controllers and is pretty accurate. The calibration became wonky once, when the controller was on low battery, but we faced no other issues. If that does happen, it takes no more than 10 seconds to re-calibrate it.
Any problems with the Daydream view?
A negative is that it’s difficult to use the headset for extended periods. Playing a game and watching some videos, we were introduced to a headache in about 40 minutes. So, you can expect to experience VR short bursts, of perhaps about 20 minutes at a time. Some of my friends endured longer, so i guess this area can be subjective.
When it comes to screen quality, we used a Pixel XL with its 2560x1440 pixel resolution. The display was crisp and enjoyable for the most part. If and only if you have used an HTC Vive or PlayStation VR will you feel like this is low resolution VR. As far as mobile VR is concerned, the Daydream View is the best experience I've had so far. It's better than the Gear VR, especially because of the controller.
Heat and Battery life
An important thing we’d like to highlight is that the Pixel XL got quite hot after about 30 minutes of use. The games we played weren’t too graphically intensive, but the smartphone reached about 51 degrees celsius after 30 minutes of gaming. This isn’t alarming, but we don’t see this as a good sign for the phone in the long term. It’s worth noting that this happens to every smartphone when used for VR, even on Google Cardboards.
We lost about 25% battery on the phone after 30 minutes of Daydream use.
If you own one of the compatible smartphones mentioned above, then the Daydream View should be a no brainer for you. It's a good VR experience, better than any other Cardboard clone out there, and the experiences are more immersive thanks to the motion controller. Be it learning about different fish in a virtual aquarium, or performing magic in Fantastic Beasts, or even playing a simple shooting game, it’s a lot of fun. The controller is intuitive, which makes the entire experience more immersive. If you add a headphone to the mix, you’re looking at the most immersive mobile VR headset out there.
Easy to setup and use
Housing for the remote control in the headset
Immersive, intuitive and fun
Limited device compatibility right now
Light bleeds easily into the headset
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