Google has announced a brand new VR Headset, with the Google Daydream View taking a leaf out of the Samsung Gear VR’s book and providing a premium offering for Android phone owners.
Yes, it’s another mobile-based VR headset, but this one is poised to work with more Android phones in the future, starting with the Google Pixel and Pixel XL.
Daydream View is also going to be less expensive than the Gear VR at $79. It’s Google’s Chromecast-like bid for virtual reality: beating everyone else on price, and getting way more consumers hooked. Brilliant.
It’s still early days for Daydream VR platform, based on what we tested at the Google Pixel launch event. There’s a lot of potential, even if it feels like a fabric-lined Samsung Gear VR clone.
Price and release date
Google Daydream View is ridiculously inexpensive for a virtual reality headset, at least one you want to buy. It costs $79 in the US and £69 in the UK, beating the Gear VR by a meaningful $20 (£10).
You can purchase the headset through the Google Store, or pick it up at Verizon or Best Buy in the US starting on November 10.
Here is the rundown of release details straight from Google:
- United States: Verizon, Best Buy; $79 (USD)
- Canada: Bell, Rogers, Telus, Best Buy; $99 (CAD)
- United Kingdom: EE, Carphone Warehouse; £69 (GBP)
- Germany: Deutsche Telekom; €69 (EUR)
- Australia: Telstra, JB Hi-Fi; $119 (AUD)
Design and specs
Daydream View is relatively the same size and shape of a mobile virtual reality headset, but it’s coated in a distinctive fabric layer that gives new meaning to Google’s “Material Design.”
This likeable, lightweight material feels comfortable to wear, at least in the demo we experienced at the company’s Pixel launch event.
There’s a single elastic band in back holds the headset to your noggin and it’s surprisingly steady. Best of all, it won’t mess up your the top of your hair, mohawks included.
Gives new meaning to Google’s “Material Design.”
Daydream View has a hand-washable facepad, just in case your first instinct is to ask “What if I get the it dirty?” and Google promises it works with most eyeglasses.
Going with the “natural” fabric design are three different color choices, just in case you want to match your favorite outfit. Slate, Snow and Crimson. Someone in today’s audience was super excited for Crimson, but they may face a bit of a wait.
Games and software
Here’s where the Google Daydream View – and all new Samsung Gear VR challengers – needs to prove itself, and our brief time with the headset proved just that.
Google is touting its exclusive demo of the wand-waving VR game, “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find” Them” from the mind wizardly creator J.K. Rowling.
The Harry Potter author isn’t really designing the game based on her new movie, but we were told she did play the game and gave it her thumbs up. Our demo was really too short to judge.
What we did like was exploring the 360 degree realms that showed of the mobile-gaming level graphics, with deep contrast ratios of the 5.5-inch Pixel XL and its 2K resolution. The gameplay as a bit thin.
Less graphically appealing, but more fun was the mini-game collection “Wonderglade.” In our demo, we had to race a ball around a tiltable track by moving the level of the track platform by twisting the remote.
The good news is that Daydream is going to have the Google Play Store, and it’ll feature all sorts of 360-degree content: games, movies, photos and even news experiences.
The grid-like layout of content looks exactly like the Gear VR home screen. That’s okay, because you shouldn’t change what works just because someone else has done Samsung in that fashion.
Google just has to get the library up to speed, and we’d imagine a lot of Samsung Gear VR ports will make their way to the Google Daydream platform in time.
Casting spells in “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find” and racing spherical objects in “Wonderglade” is gave us a good idea of what to expect from Google Daydream’s remote control.
The included controller is really tiny – about the size of the Apple TV remote. It’s just as easily losable, so Google decided to put an elastic strap on the inside of the VR headset. It’s a secure place to stash it.
The sensors are what you’d expect from a Wii-like motion controller is a miniaturized form. It’ll sense when you’re swinging a bat or steering an airship, according to Google. Those are the games we want to play next.
Google Daydream could be the next big hit in the virtual reality simply because it’s accessible. That’s its big advantage over its main competition.
Right away, you’ll love its price. It’s $79 (£69). That may be the new magical price to get more people to try out mobile-based virtual reality on a whim, not just early adopters.
Eventually, Google Daydream will be on more Android phones in 2016 and 2017, while the Gear VR is limited to newer Samsung devices. After the Pixel and Pixel XL, ZTE Axon 7 will be among the first.
Google still needs to address issues about its – and this is fully expected – limited game library, and the fact that light peeks into the headset, highlighting dust on the screen. If it can do that, it may be as pivotal in VR as its Chromecast has been in the world of streaming technology adoption.