Space & Innovation

Google's Daydream VR Headset Is Unlike Any Other

The company is on the cusp of VR greatness with its new headset and controller.

<p>Jeremy Lips / Toms Guides</p>

Now this is more like it. After teasing us for the past few years with the namby-pamby Cardboard VR viewer, Google has created a virtual reality headset more suited to its reputation. The Daydream View has arrived with an aggressive $79 price tag, making it one of the more inexpensive ways to experience VR.

Design

Daydream View is like no VR headset you've ever seen. The body of the headset is covered with the light, breathable material that you'd find in your yoga pants or workout shirt. It gives the View a more relatable, familiar feel than the plastic Samsung Gear VR.

Similar to the Gear VR, your smartphone (in this case, a Google Pixel or Pixel XL, though ZTE's Axon 7 also claims to be Daydream-ready) fits inside the front of the headset. However, instead of snapping your device into a pair of sturdy clasps as you would on the Gear VR, your phone is held in place by fastening a stretchy band over a small gray protrusion at the top of the View.

Field of View

The biggest difference I noticed between the Daydream and the Gear VR involved motion blur, which can occur when you turn to look somewhere else in a virtual world. The Gear VR had a negligible amount of blur when I turned my head, but I noticed a lot more wearing the Daydream. The visual quality of Google's headset's is also slightly below the Gear VR, with more jagged graphics.

Interface

Google has employed a floating tile interface similar to what you'd find on Gear VR or even the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. However, where the Oculus-powered headsets have gone for a fancy house backdrop and the Vive with a space motif, Google opts for a colorful nature motif. The home screen is located in that picturesque valley from the tutorial and has two rows of tiles.

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Controller

Once you launch the Daydream on your phone, it connects to the View's controller via Bluetooth. Weighing 1.6 ounces, the gray plastic controller is rounded on both ends and has a curved rear plate, perfect for cradling in an eager hand. According to Google, the peripheral should last up to 12 hours on a charge and takes about two hours to refill the battery.

The large, circular indentation at the top of the controller functions as a touchpad of sorts, letting you navigate with a series of swipes or a quick press. Directly below is the Apps button, marked with a raised minus sign. When you're perusing Daydream Home, it'll take you to the Apps page. However, developers can configure the button as they please within apps or games.

Apps, Games and Experiences

My review unit of the Daydream View app catalog didn't feature every app scheduled to launch with the headset. For example, the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them game that I tried at Google's preview event for the Daydream View was nowhere to be found, much to my disappointment. Still the three games, three educational apps, trio of multimedia offerings and a news app were enough to give a baseline of what to expect from Daydream's catalog.

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In terms of games, you get the reasonably-paced, top-down shooter Hunter's Gate, the challenging puzzler Mekorama VR and the whimsical Wonderglade. The WSJ VR app transports you to a swanky apartment, complete with a fireplace so you can read the day's news and videos on a big screen or dive into the newspaper's growing catalog of 360 video. The most compelling part of the app however, is the stock market tracker, which displays current stocks in a 3D polls of red and green.

Bottom Line

Google is on the cusp of VR greatness with the Daydream View. Made from comfortable, breathable material, the VR headset is more stylish than any head-mounted display has a right to be. The included controller is intuitive and offers agile, rather accurate motion. In terms of graphical fidelity, the Daydream VR almost rises to the level of the $99 Samsung Gear VR.

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The original review for Google's Daydream appeared on Tom's Guides, a Purch company. A rights reserved.