Google Daydream View VR headset Review
Using a Daydream app takes a toll on your smartphone's battery just like running any other GPU-intensive title will. Daydream doesn't seem to place excessively high demands on the battery, but it's certainly not going easy on it, either. And if you intend to put in any appreciable amount of time plugged into Daydream's virtual worlds, you're going to want to make sure your phone's battery has plenty of juice left in it.
From within the Daydream settings screen you can view your phone's current charge, letting you keep an eye on roughly how much more VR time you have left before needing to recharge.
The much more frustrating situation concerns Daydream's wireless controller. It charges over USB Type-C, and Google doesn't include a charger in the box. That part, at least is fine – we don't really need an excess of chargers cluttering up our lives unnecessarily. The annoying part involves keeping a tab on the controller's charge level. While the in-headset view lets you check on your phone's charge, there's no similar indication for just how much battery life remains in the controller itself. You'll get an on-screen notification when it's getting particularly low, prompting you to plug it in for a charge, but if you'd rather stay ahead of the game and preemptively top it off, you're going to have to do so blind; there's no obvious way to determine controller battery status.
Price and conclusion
Daydream takes an approach to smartphone VR that's not quite like any other solution out there right now. On one hand, Google's made it quite simple and straightforward, opening the door for compatibility with lots of handsets – a move that made Cardboard the success it's been. But at the same time, Google's setting some standards to make sure that the Daydream experience is a relatively high-quality one, and part of that means that – for the moment, at least – the list of compatible devices is quite meager. That situation will improve, but for the time being it legitimately is a real limitation.
But Google's also made decisions that give Daydream a real technological advantage over its competition, and a standard wireless controller that all users can be expected to have access to really gives developers the support they need to create interactive software of a sort that has failed to materialize with either Cardboard or the Dear VR.
phone – unlike Cardboard, which had an iOS app, we haven't heard about any plans to share the world of Daydream with the Apple-using contingent.
At $80, Daydream View feels about a million times more expensive than Cardboard, but you're getting a nice amount of hardware for your money. Investing in a really nice Cardboard headset would already set you back a lot more than some cheap fold-together unit would run you, and when you consider that you're also getting a wireless controller here, the expense starts to feel worth it. And considering how Samsung's Gear VR costs $20 more – without a controller – Daydream view comes across as a comparative bargain.
It's not just the hardware though (and don't forget the expense of a compatible phone): you also need to buy apps. Just like on the Gear VR, they can really add up fast, as VR apps tend to go for a premium over traditional 2D titles.
Right now, it would behoove any curious potential Daydream View user to do the math: look at how many of the current crop of Daydream apps you're really interested in, and what you're willing to pay for them. Sure, $80 for the headset and controller may be doable, but will you also be dropping a good $75 on apps? A little early budgeting will help you decide if Daydream's right for you.
If you do decide to splurge, you'll likely find yourself solidly entertained. Daydream's off to a decent start, and there's tons of potential for new hardware and software pushing things even further; we can't wait to see what killer Daydream View experiences become possible with the upcoming 2017 roster of flagship phones.