First look: Google Daydream View VR headset
The virtual reality (VR) experience has been a flawed one so far. Be it the Google Cardboard-style VR headsets that just weren’t immersive enough, or the Samsung Gear VR, which was limited to certain phones, or powerful headsets such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, which required equally powerful PCs to work with. Fragmentation was holding back the entire VR ecosystem. But all that could change with the Google Daydream View VR headset.
The soft touch
Google has done something remarkably unconventional with the design. The Daydream View headset is lined with a soft fabric all around, offering some extra ventilation. Even though the shape isn’t very different from the Gear VR and the like, it is the fabric finish that grabs your attention. Globally, Google offers three colour options—slate, snow and crimson, though only the slate option is available in India at present. You’ll simply need to open the headset’s front door to slot your phone in it, and wear the Daydream in front of your eyes. The headset is essentially a skeletal frame with lenses, foam and plastic underneath the fabric finish. It weighs just 220g.
The case for 4K displays
You can download the Daydream app (free on the Play Store) on phones such as the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Moto Z, ZTE Axon 7 and Huawei Mate 9 Pro. Google says the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ and Asus Zenfone AR will soon get Daydream support. The VR magic that you see, however, will depend a great deal on the phone’s display.
Let’s just say there is a case for 4K phone displays for VR content. So, the Pixel XL’s 5.5-inch (2,560 x 1,440 resolution) display was better for viewing VR content than the 5-inch (1,920x1,080 resolution) display in another phone, with fine differences that you’ll notice soon enough.
Remote-control the experience
The Daydream View comes with a motion-control wireless remote. This connects via Bluetooth and has a simple layout—a clickable touchpad, two buttons and volume keys. Based on the app or game, the remote functionality is available on screen—throw objects or switch on a flashlight, for instance. The controller has a built-in battery, which will last through 12 hours of use.
An interface of simplicity
The beautiful interface you see through the headset lists all your VR apps and has access to the Play Store. For instance, there is YouTube VR, Netflix VR, games such as Fantastic Beasts, and the Gala360 app that travellers would love. Since the Daydream currently supports powerful phones, the VR rendering that you see is close to superb in terms of smoothness and graphics.
A persistent concern, however, is the phone heating up when cradled inside the headset. Developers now need to fine-tune VR apps to take better advantage of the hardware, and get the same level of performance without heating issues.
The price advantage
With a price tag of Rs6,499 (exclusive to Flipkart.com), the Daydream View headset is perhaps the slickest introduction to the world of VR. The range of apps and quality of the experience is improving significantly. The Daydream View is meant to be the benchmark device for future smartphone VR headsets, and it could just be perfectly placed to get people excited about VR