The Google Daydream View has a lofty vision: converting your smartphone into a virtual reality headset (that is, if your smartphone is a Pixel or a Moto Z). The VR headset is mobile based and in the future, we should see many more Android phones becoming compatible with this technology. With the Daydream View, the user can have a 360-degree experience with panoramic photos, videos, and of course, video games.
You control the headset via a small controller that helps you navigate and adds motion detection to gameplay. It connects to the headset through Bluetooth and makes for a more immersive gaming experience. Not that this is to be compared with a heavy hitter like the Oculus Rift, however. The Daydream View is more of an enhancer, really, incorporating virtual reality to your daily life for an inexpensive $79.
Accordingly, it’s designed for comfort, with a (comparatively) stylish fabric design (in Slate, Snow and Crimson), and is held to the back of your head with an elastic strap. The fit isn’t exactly perfect, and it lets some light in. But the material is lightweight enough that it’s comfortable to wear for a few hours, but you might want to take it off at intervals anyway in order to avoid it sinking into your skin and leaving temporary grooves. It can also easily be worn by people who wear glasses.
The phone connects to the VR headset by placing it between the Daydream’s front flap and its lenses, an easy enough task. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a pixel effect with the Google Pixel, although this is thwarted to some extent by the Pixel XL with its Quad HD display.
However, we see that the headset is still a fledgling device when we look at the games. Daydream View only launched with 12 games, although more have been released and will continue to be on the way. So far, these have been touch and go, with the puzzle games like Mekorama offering more entertainment value than the others. Games that incorporated more 3D still felt more laggy and buggy, and not completely full-fledged. The Daydream View needs quite a few more truly immersive games.
The apps, however, make the experience a lot more worthwhile. YouTube VR, for example lets you watch 3D videos and Next VR provides a dedicated 3D experience. The Photos app is quick to pull up old images in panoramic view too.
The Snapdragon 821 chip is fully capable of handling 3D graphics, so it’s more a question of how far developers can go to take advantage of this. However, within 20 minutes of gameplay, the phone becomes noticeably hot and that’s when the performance drops quite a few notches. Plus, extended VR use leads to reduced battery life, so players will have to time their gaming sessions a little carefully.