VR headsets for smartphones do not offer the same freedom of use as full virtual reality stations. But they are a small budget option efficient to discover a little this technology without (immediately) spend a fortune. The concept is simple: you install a virtual reality mobile application on your Android or iOS smartphone and place it inside the glasses. Lenses do the rest to give an impression of depth, filter the lighting and produce the desired effect. And we indeed find at all prices! In this test, we did not include the Google Cardboard, the cheapest VR device on the market, but it’s still an idea of an ultra-economical Christmas gift!
If you are far from complete helmets type Oculus Rift, the result can be surprising. The quality of the image depends of course on the resolution of your phone. The experience is not ideal in Full HD, but in 4K, it’s a real pleasure. However, other criteria are taken into account. The comfort of the device, the quality of the lenses, ergonomics. Let’s have a look at what the virtual reality market has to offer from this point of view!
Elegant: The Best Cheap
Elegant, manufactured by Shinecon, has sold many of its helmets in the United States thanks to its low price and its correct design. And while sales take off seriously in France, we wanted to test what is posed as an ultra-economical alternative to more expensive VR headsets like Google or Samsung. The brushed black box evokes collector’s sets of video games and gives a neat impression. We already knew that the Elegant remote was not included, so we ordered it separately – even with this additional expense, we are well below the Google Dreamview price. The remote is well designed, with many intuitive buttons and a good grip. XBOX and PS directly inspire the four diamond buttons.
On the top of this – lovely – VR helmet, there are three adjustment rings. The middle one determines the focal length, while the two lateral ones adjust the position of the lenses to match the shape of your face. Curiously, this feature that seems essential is not present on all models: it is discovered on an entry-level VR headset! Finally, on the side of the device always, a last small ring can adjust the distance between the phone and your eyes. Regarding design always, we much appreciate the presence of a short side day that allows passing a charger cable or a jack for sound. The comfort is quite optimal. If you prefer the fabric used by Google, the pads of the Elegant are reminiscent of those of most headphones. Their thickness and shape allows not only good maintenance without discomfort, but also to wear any glasses. To slide phone into the room, merely unclip the front of the VR headset, which is micro-perforated to allow ventilation of the smartphones that heat the most. The size is adjustable. It is globally compatible with all conventional smartphones ranging from 3.5 to 5.5 inches. The one we use in our tests is a Samsung Galaxy S6.
Google Daydream View: The new Google VR Headset 2017
Unpacking, Daydream View is a favorite. Its design is more than neat, with a heather fabric coating available in several colors. The parts in contact with the face are padded, and it is placed on the head thanks to a comfortable, adjustable elastic band. It comes with a small remote – and that’s the most. Other VR headsets, as we will see, have chosen to place the controls on the device itself. But there is nothing like the pleasure of really reaching out to shoot or cast a spell. It is small, minimalist, super-design, and reminds us strongly of small remotes for video projectors. A little sensitive pad acts as a joystick.
The room in which the phone is placed closes with a simple little lace. We were skeptical about the stability of this system in case of movement, but a discreet rubber coating keeps the smartphone in place. And this, despite our lively – and amazed – changes to the discovery of virtual reality. The lens space is big enough for eyeglass wearers – and I wear pretty thick ones. It is therefore quite comfortable to wear, except that like many devices it leaves a red mark on the forehead and cheeks. We note a small flat. Unlike its competitors in VR for the smartphone, the smartphone room is not entirely closed. With the shutters open, we found light leaks of light that come to highlight small dust or fingerprints on the phone screen. Among the Daydream games – there are 12 at the moment – we find VR Karts Sprint, a rip-off of Mario Kart pretty enjoyable, or the excellent “Keep Talking, and Nobody Explodes.” In December 2017, Daydream will also be compatible with Netflix, HBO. He already supports Hulu and YouTube.
Samsung Gear VR S6/7/8: The Champion VR for the Smartphone
The range of Samsung Gear has launched the virtual reality market for smartphones. Be careful. However, not all versions of this product are compatible with the Galaxy smartphone. We chose to test the Gear VR S6 / 7/8 which offers the most compatibility options. The best models to date are the Gear VR S8 / S8 +, but it is exclusive to this phone. The Gear VR S6 / 7 is a more economical option, but it does not include the remote. The supremacy of Gear VR on the market is discussed. Users of other smartphones also want their share of the pie, and that has stimulated competition. Nevertheless, from a technical point of view, Samsung’s VR headsets remain among the best. If we did not choose them as the top of their class, it is that they are still exclusive to one or two phones and remain quite expensive. But if like me, you have a Galaxy, it’s the inevitable choice. Let’s see why.
The strength of this headset is that the power and resolution of the Galaxy coupled with the quality of VR make it a competitor of models (without smartphones) to more than 700 €. It comes with a remote control directly inspired by the first controller HTC Vive – and it’s a good point – with a sensitive and stable joystick and a good grip. Pairing the remote control to your phone via Bluetooth is straightforward. Let’s talk about design – and there is more to it. Larger and more substantial than Daydream, it is still very comfortable to wear. It can be adjusted in one motion, and the foam pads are as always very pleasant.