The Google Cardboard VR is a very cheap way to start enjoying the exploding universe of virtual reality. Although it is very cheap, it works remarkably well, and is really an ideal starter VR headset to explore VR and see if this is for you. It can be used with most phones, up to and including an iPhone 6.
VR is now available and very accessible, and has the ability to transform your movie-watching and game-playing experiences into awesome VR experiences. If you want to try VR or just give the gift of VR, the prices and choices can be overwhelming. But you really cannot go wrong with the $13.99 Google Cardboard VR.
Google Cardboard VR is the cheapest possible VR headset you can buy, yet it actually works really well as a fun toy and as a great introduction to VR.
Google Cardboard VR fits the bill if you are looking for VR technology that is really cheap. It is by far the best cheap wearable technology gift/virtual VR headset available. Google Cardboard VR is a whole lot of fun and an introduction to the exciting world of VR – for less than $20! At first, I thought there must be a catch. But no, this is pretty simple stuff: Google wanted to test the waters with VR, and get developers started making VR apps. So they made Google Cardboard VR, which is exactly what it says: a VR device made out of cardboard.
Google Cardboard VR is cheap, it’s basic, and it works pretty well – giving users a chance to try out the exciting new world of VR, at a very low cost. You hold the unit on your head, slide your cell phone into it, and then experience what your cell phone is projecting in a wonderful new way. (The unit is compatible with most iOS and Android phones.)
In its most basic form, you have to hold the Google Cardboard VR on your head, while you take a look at the wonders of VR. We are now at Google Cardboard VR Version 2, which is new in that it accommodates newer, larger cell phones (up to 6 inches). The version I am reviewing here comes with a simply headband that works remarkably well.
You cannot really go wrong for under twenty dollars, so the only hard thing is to decide who to buy it from. Many retailers have taken the Google technology and added on really useful extras – such as head bands, so that you don’t have to hold it in place, and nose and head pads for increased comfort. I could not decide which unit to buy, so I went with the #1 best seller. Usually, there is a good reason why items are #1.
Unboxing and Assembling Google Cardboard VR
When I first unpacked the bits of cardboard and the elastic band (!) I was not very optimistic. I actually heard a hilarious story about a guy who unpacked his Google Cardboard VR, then went out for a short while. Later, he couldn’t find it. Turned out his wife thought the pieces were the packaging, and had thrown it all in the garbage!
In any event, it took me a while to figure out how to assemble my new Google Cardboard VR. The instructions look impressive at first sight, but turn out not to be very helpful. To be honest, I don’t think I would have managed to assemble it if I did not have a secret weapon – a 16-year-old daughter who is really good at that kind of thing. She helped me to figure it out, and we actually had some fun doing it. Oddly, the most fun we have had together for ages. It’s fun when your kids start to be so smart that they can help you out! We also had fun making the video below, which shows unboxing and assembling the Google Cardboard VR.
How does the Magnet on Google Cardboard VR Work?
One of the great things about the Google Cardboard is that two simple magnets work as an input device (e.g. a mouse click or Enter), just by cleverly interacting with your phone. It amazed me. I was watching an app that required a mouse click, and I thought, “How am I going to do that without taking the phone out of the headset?” Without thinking it would actually work, I slid the magnet – and it worked! Just amazing.
This is how the magnet button works: Your phone most likely has a magnetic sensor in the back. These are there to work with smart covers that put the phone to sleep, or to sense docking stations. When you slide the magnet on the Google Cardboard in its groove, it then automatically slips back into place because of the other magnet on the opposite side. Your phone’s magnetic sensor sensing the movement of the magnet, and interprets this as a button press, which it then applies to whatever input your app happens to be waiting for, such as a mouse click or pressing the enter button. Simply brilliant, and it makes the simple Google Cardboard way more versatile for apps.
Trying out my Google Cardboard VR
Finally I got to put my phone into it to try it out. I have an iPhone 6, which fits perfectly. The minute I put my new Google Cardboard VR on, I suddenly realized what VR means – that amazing feeling of being immersed in a world that is in fact completely virtual.
It’s not really there, and you know it’s not really there – but it’s such fun to pretend it’s there!
VR enables you to experience things that would otherwise be impossible. Huge numbers of app developers have responded to Google’s initiative by developing apps that work with it. For example, the Bohemian Rhapsody Experience enables you to experience the sensation of being onstage with Freddy Mercury’s band, complete with audio and visual components. However, that one does not work with iPhones, so I have not tried it out.
The bottom line I found: Google Cardboard VR lets you experience reasonable quality VR for the price of a couple of coffees and a muffin. And if you give Google Cardboard VR as a gift – you can be sure it will be the most talked about cheap gift of all, and you will be remembered for being so original. It’s just such a remarkable little gadget. And for this price, you really cannot go wrong.
What can you view with a VR device?
The number of VR apps and videos available for free just keeps growing every day. For a start, you can consult a good post about the best VR apps. You can also go to YouTube and search for VR videos. What I did was to search for some VR videos and make a VR playlist on YouTube.
What is the Difference between 3D and 360 Degrees Viewing?
Basically, 3D consists of projecting two different images to your two eyes, giving you a 3D perspective that includes depth – making possible that really cool feeling you get in 3D movies, when asteroids hurtle towards your head (well, I like it).
360 degrees is a big step further than 3D, because you are immersed in what feels like a completely new world. You can look in any direction, and the virtual world continues all around, above and below you. Many of the videos on YouTube are merely 3D.
The best app I found for experiencing the whole immersive virtual reality experience is Within – VR (Virtual Reality). This free app includes a whole range of short VR experiences, that really give you an overview of what is now possible with virtual reality. You are sure to find at least one that you like. I really loved being able to re-experience being on the streets of New York, and actually being able to look UP at the architecture and the tops of the buildings!
Personally I find the immersive 360 degrees apps much more fun, intense, and exciting. They lend themselves to horror movie experiences, so there are quite a few of those available. I have to admit I have not tried those. I find ordinary horror movies too scary to deal with, so I don’t think I want to try being immersed in one.
Bottom Line on the Google Cardboard VR
I have used my own Google Cardboard VR a lot now, and am truly amazed at how tough it is. I mean, it’s cardboard! Yet it holds together perfectly. It also works really well, and has given me a lot of fun. Mainly it is about that awesome “I am somewhere else” feeling, so that I can re-experience scuba diving or walking in New York without leaving my room. Sometimes it is deeply relaxing, such as when I float across the universe. There are also a lot of horror apps, but I don’t do horror. For those who do, it is sure to be great, as being immersed in scariness has to make it more scary.
In short, it is impossible to go wrong with the Google Cardboard VR. You will be able to experience the awe-inspiring world of virtual reality for a really low price. It is very likely that the Google Cardboard VR will turn out to be a “starter” VR headset. But you will have the fun of starting on this exciting journey into virtual reality with a very low investment.
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