Google Daydream VR full, in-depth review
The virtual reality world just changed for the better
- Potentially world changing
- Cheap and accessible
- Great content now and more coming
- Headset isn't the best fitting
- Only works with Google Pixel phones for now
Just a few months ago we were cooing over applications and content like this being available on an expensive, powerful, sprawling PC rig. Now here they are on a phone... For a hundred-odd bucks! Buy one for yourself right now and then buy more as Christmas presents for your nearest and dearest - if they have a Pixel, that is.
Price$ 119.00 (AUD)
We’ve seen a few VR headsets for phones lately – they simply hold onto your phone and allow it to access what was, until today, a small world of VR videos and a few apps. Google’s Daydream View VR system is a headset plus a Bluetooth controller wand which finally lets you interact with virtual worlds displayed on your phone – like properly interact.
The wand and the software are the key elements here. But first let’s take a look at the headset itself.
Google Daydream VR Headset
Despite performing the same VR goggles function as previous VR headsets that we’ve seen (like the 3SIXT VR Headset and Zeiss VR One Plus) this one isn’t made out of plastic and foam pads. It’s fabric-coated with a flap at the front. The lenses are plastic like the 3SIXT and the 360fly headsets. The flap is the important part as few manufacturers have managed to get this right: the phone clasps often get in the way of the buttons on the phone's side and frequently exert enough pressure on them to activate functions like volume and power off – which is annoying. Google’s flap is secured with elasticated band (like a hair band) and attaches to a plastic hook. As such it’s easily the quickest-to-use clasp we’ve seen although having a better way to line up the middle of the phone with the holder would be helpful. You can also access the controls on the side of your phone while you use the headset... but you probably won't need to.
There are some Near Field smarts in the front flap as the headset detected the phone when we placed there for the first time and offered to install the Daydream app for us. However, you can just download it from the Play Store and you can still use other headsets without missing out on anything.
But we do have some reservations. The shape and size of the foam area around the goggles might look a bit classier than straight foam, but there’s less give in it meaning that the fit isn’t great. This means that light leakage from outside is noticeable both in the form of reflections on the lenses and from the relatively- large gaps which you can look through at the sides - which can be a bit distracting. However, more than this, the lack of give in the foam married with a single headstrap means that the headset needs to be quite tight to avoid falling down. But making the headset tighter puts pressure on your eyes and that makes things go blurry. We actually preferred using the Zeiss and 3SIXT headsets as they were more secure, comfy and enclosed – they also worked fine with the rest of the Daydream system. But it’s a minor thing - there’s no deal-breaker here.
But that’s just the physical element of this setup and it’s borderline irrelevant in the potentially-world changing innovation brought about by the controller wand and software.
The Daydream wand
The wand is simply a small, rechargeable Bluetooth device with sensors, buttons and a touchpad - not unlike a Wiimote. Anyone who has used the hand sensors provided with the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive VR systems will immediately be impressed. Whereas those systems require hardcore PCs, an expensive headset and a sensor array that needs to be installed in a room, the Daydream does basically the same job with none of that. We’d like to say it’s less accurate, but it’s not by much and re-centering it when it gets out of alignment is a cinch. There’s a trackpad at the front that you use with your thumb. This can be used to swipe through menus or navigate an avatar around a map – amongst other things. There’s a Back button and a Home button below this and – Hallelujah! – a volume rocker on the side (no more fiddling with buttons obscured by headset clasps).
We see the power of this device from the opening setup tutorial…
Google Daydream software
The tutorial runs for a few minutes but it’s one that will delight and surprise you. Clicking on a moving butterfly by aiming the controller (which acts like a pointer) is one thing, but using it as a torch to illuminate animals in a dark virtual forest is quite something else. It’s amazing and puts you in mind of some of the casual games and VR demos from Steam.
And things only get more impressive from there.
We've seen impressive star chart apps before but now we can be part of a fully-interactive planetarium with Star Chart VR.
Meanwhile Google's Street View has evolved into something wonderful. Using the controller to navigate around landmarks, like the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu, really does give you a sense of what it's like to be there and walk around. We loved walking up to the famous Indian temple and looking up at the towers. It gives you a real sense of scale of the place that we've not experienced before.
In more-entertainment-focused apps, Pearl is a cross between a music video, short film and a VR movie. You're sat on the dashboard of a car watching a father and daughter go through life while a song plays. You can look wherever you want while it happens. It's very immersive.
In some apps you can use a virtual keyboard.
The potential for experiencing live and historical events is off the charts. While this isn't new in the world of VR, we suspect that Daydream will popularise the practice and dramatically improve quality going forward.
Next: The best part, worst part and conclusion
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Ring Video Doorbell review
- 2 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 4 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 5 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
Latest News Articles
- Latest Spartan sports watches hit the scene
- Huawei Launches Australia’s First 4G SIM Enabled Smart Watch
- HP's Omen X Compact Desktop can morph into a backpack VR PC
- Android Wear 2.0 finally arrives on Huawei Watch as slow rollout continues
- Leaked Fitbit photos show new devices in need of a redesign
PCW Evaluation Team
I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.
It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
- Sony's latest Ultra HD OLED debuts in Australia
- Panasonic Ultra HD OLED TV Review
- Review: Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCSystems Engineer (Wintel) - Midrange L1 & L2ACT
- FTIT Security Technical Business AnalystOther
- CCCollaboration tools ManagerVIC
- FTSOE Architect - Gold CoastQLD
- FTJunior-Mid Level Software Support/Project CoordinatorQLD
- CCTechnical Project ManagerQLD
- FTFull Stack . NET DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Solution Designer / ArchitectOther
- FTSAP Support Analyst / Helpdesk / Service DeskOther
- TPDatabase Systems Analyst - Microsoft AccessNSW
- FTCorporate ReceptionistOther
- FTDigital Marketing ExecutiveOther
- CCIT Change CoordinatorNSW
- CCTechnical Architect - Oracle Identity and Access Management - CANBERRA BASEDVIC
- CCCognos Lead / Cognos DeveloperACT
- TPOffice 365 EngineerQLD
- FTSoftware EngineerSA
- FTApplication Support Team Lead l Experience with health applicationsNSW
- TPSenior Intergration DeveloperNSW
- FTService Delivery ManagerOther
- TPTest AnalystQLD
- FTSenior Business AnalystACT
- FTNetwork EngineerACT
- FTAndroid Developer - PermanentWA
- FTSecurity Architect, Framework DesignNSW