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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)
The best parts
It was only back in July that Nvidia launched its VR Funhouse carnival-games on Steam. Many people marvelled at it and made noises about dropping two grand on a VR installation for their home just to play it.
Now, here we are playing Wonder Glade and it's, cough, virtually the same thing on your phone! It's enough to make you wonder if you really do need a monster PC VR system (actually you do need one because they're still amazing). Nonetheless, games like this mean Daydream can open up the world of sophisticated VR to the non PC Master Race (or Playstation VR pe...ople).
We've also seen some impressive puzzle games.
It's also worth mentioning that Daydream launches with a heap of content in the form of specially-made apps and content on YouTube VR. There's plenty to get your teeth into. You can even watch movies like at a drive-in cinema.
The Worst Parts
The phone (in our case a Pixel XL) can get very hot when using the system (not surprisingly) and it's naturally a battery vampire. However, we didn't struggle for range of motion when we were both plugged into the power and headphones at the same time. When things got a bit too hot, a message popped up asking us to cool the phone for a while - so at least it's unlikely to explode without warning.
There are also the motion issues. This immersive movie which involves watching a hostile alien crash into earth made our stomachs churn very quickly as we followed it down stairs and around corners without physically moving. Ugh. It's hard to see content like that catching on.
At present there's not a great web browser or photo viewer. The only photos from our library that appeared were the panoramas that we'd shot, but they came out all low-res. You'll also struggle to get onto your existing favourite VR content sites... for now. So if you want to make the controller wand interact with pornhub content, you'll likely have to wait a bit longer.
Read more: Google Nests in New Zealand
If we were being pernickety, not being able to buy the controller separately is a bit annoying as we'd rather people had a choice of headsets - few people's faces will match Daydream's hard contours.
While the mass-popularisation of Virtual Reality may set some alarm bells ringing - especially for anyone who has watched the Black Mirror episode, The Entire History of You - which even uses the same controller - the potential here is mind boggling. This level of VR immersion and interactivity rivals what we've seen on hardcore PCs up until now. It's quite possibly world changing as the entertainment and educational potential is off the scale. Not only that, there's enough content already to make this a perfect Christmas present for people of all ages.
And things are only going to get better - a bigger audience means more apps and more interactivity. We already saw people having virtual fights with each other in a VFC demo last week. Now the possibilities for virtual social connections and collaboration are extremely high and it's more accessible than ever.
Another controller is the obvious next step, but for now, the only thing more exciting than what Daydream offers at launch is its potential for the (near) future.
If you were umming and ahhing over whether to buy a new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, it's worth taking a good, hard look at the Google Pixel XL because Apple doesn't have VR at this level and we don't expect Google Daydream to appear on the Apple Store anytime soon. It's just a shame that, for now anyway the Daydream only works with the Pixels but we expect it to be pushed out to Android sooner rather than later.
At $119 (for Aussies) it's a steal. If you've been wondering what to get people you care about for Christmas (assuming they have a Pixel phone), get them this. It's as simple as that.
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