Google Daydream View VR headset Review

Battery Life



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.

We've also noted a number of shortcomings the Daydream View headset suffers from, but this shouldn't dissuade you from getting on board with it. Let's be real: you could spend thousands on putting together a real state-of-the-art VR system that would blow users' socks off, but that's just not an accessible option for a lot of people. Instead, Daydream strikes a balance that delivers a solidly pleasing experience, while also being affordable and keeping the door open for broad compatibility. Well, so long as you've got an Android 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.



Pros

  • Smooth, detailed 3D environments look great
  • Wireless controller adds enormously to the immersive VR experience
  • Auto-screen-centering makes setup easy
  • Comfortable to wear (and easy to clean)
  • Early app selection is promising

Cons

  • Controller drift is a real problem
  • Limited phone compatibility at the moment
  • Headset design almost feels too simple
  • Difficult to use with big glasses

PhoneArena Rating:

8.3

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5 Comments

1. vincelongman

Posts: 5745; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Looks promising I'm looking forward to more content and Daydream HMDs In particular I'd like a better controller

2. sgodsell

Posts: 7514; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The Daydream controller is pretty good in my opinion, especially for its price. Vincelongman to say you would like a better controller, well then what would make the controller better in your eyes?

3. vincelongman

Posts: 5745; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

IMO they should be 2 controller, one for each hand I'd like more inputs/buttons, in particular a trigger And for it to more easy to use in each hand But I realise this tech is still really new For the price its unmatched

5. sgodsell

Posts: 7514; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The existing Daydream VR controller has a selection button right in the touch pad, which also gives you X/Y coordinates for your thumb, plus two other buttons. So right there you have one extra button compared to the Gear VR. Not to mention users don't have to fumble around trying to find the touch pad or buttons, because Daydream VR's controller is constantly sitting in the users hands. Also don't forget, now developers have the ability to read the coordinates from this 9-axis controller as well. So this Daydream VR controller knows where it is sitting in 3D space. Developers can read the accelerometer, gyroscope, or magnometor from this controller, as well as the coordinates from the users thumb on little touch pad. Adding a second controller like the first would not only up the cost, but now you are adding another level of complexity. How do you know which controller is which, and which hand would be assigned to each controller. You have to remember there is no cameras to capture the 3D spacial awareness like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. This is mobile to begin with. It would have been nice if they put an extra button or two on the bottom of the controller as well. Because that would be easy to feel. I think for the vast majority of apps, developers can write applications to take advantage of this controller as is. Remember you not only have the headset tracking, that can be used for input, but now Daydream users have a 3D controller with a touch pad, and a few buttons as well. So it comes down to developers taking advantage of what is currently standardized for Daydream VR.

4. sgodsell

Posts: 7514; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Awesome little controller.

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