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Thread: Mobile VR
26-11-2016, 05:29 AM #1
I have a Google Pixel, so thought it might be worth it to spring the $80 for a Daydream. I tried out a friend's Gear VR rig a couple of months ago, thought it was a decent tech demo and didn't see any long-term appeal in it. My impressions of the Daydream are that it's a real step in the right direction--I still think that mobile VR is the way that VR gets mass adoption, not the high-end rigs--and I think it'll have longer-term appeal for me, but it's still not quite there.
- The controller. Again, the controller. This is what makes the experience 900% better than Gear VR. With GVR, you have to push touch-sensitive areas on the side of the headset, which is awkward, works intermittently and is prone to error. The Daydream controller is a motion sensing wand, like a Wii controller, and it works perfectly. You can just point at and click on stuff in the VR environment. The controller has an omnidirectional touch pad as well for doing directional-pad-like stuff. It's small, fits comfortably in the hand and becomes a seamless part of the environment without thinking about it. When not in use, the controller straps into the front of the headset unit.
- The headset. It's lightweight, is well padded, and has a cloth covering. Even with a phone radiating heat strapped to the front of it, my face doesn't sweat and I don't get tired of wearing it. It's comfortable and easy to wear. Slight cons here are that the strap is mounted a tiny bit too high, which is meant to take weight off the bridge of your nose, but ends up lifting the headset away from your nose and letting light in underneath.
- Street View VR. Surprisingly immersive. I've used it to find hotels I'm staying at for an upcoming trip to get the lay of the land. With the pointer/controller, it's super easy to navigate around. I hope Google Earth VR is implemented as well when they get that up and running for the Daydream.
- Other content. There are some mobile-like games that use the VR and controller well. Not too much at this point. The video content on like the NYT VR page and a couple of the other dedicated VR content sites (YouVisit VR is pretty damn amazing) is good. You can take VR photos with your phone and view them in the device, which is actually really cool.
- Game-like interactivity isn't going to be a thing here. Most good content for this platform is going to be passive--VR video and the like. That's fine; there's good interesting stuff there, just don't expect to be flying through space shooting aliens. Leave that to the high-end rigs.
- Resolution isn't great, there's some screen dooring, FOV is about 90°, and only the center of your vision is in focus. All this is offset by the perfect, lagless motion sensing though. There's no delay, and the headset tracks the motion of your head in full omni-direction perfectly. So if you want to see something in focus, or look at something outside the small FOV, you just turn your head and there it is.
- You can't use it for long. It eats about 50% of my phone battery in about 30 minutes, by which point the phone has overheated and shut down the VR app anyway.
- The app support is, uh, not quite there yet. There are maybe 30 total apps for the thing, but it's only been out officially for a week or so. What's there so far is generally good, but there's not much.
tl;dr - I'm not sad to have spent $80 on the Daydream and I think I'll get some use out of it. It hasn't made it yet where mobile VR needs to be, but it's getting there. The controller rocks.