Google is a company that has been one of the main proponents of mainstream VR technology. One of their first forays into virtual reality for the mass market came with the Google Cardboard. The Cardboard was an incredibly cheap way to show people the possibilities that mobile VR held. It didn’t really push the boundaries, and although fun, it’s not all that impressive. More recently, they partnered with Lenovo to create the Mirage Solo standalone headset. The Mirage Solo impressed in some elements but was let down by a lack of content that utilises its innovative features. Google’s other headset is the Google Daydream View. With this device, the company are aiming in between the Cardboard and Mirage Solo in terms of price and performance.
The Google Daydream View was initially launched along with the Daydream VR platform towards the end of 2016. It was released at a time where mobile VR was in vogue, with the Samsung Gear VR performing particularly well. In 2017, they launched an updated model, which is the one we’re reviewing today. The market has rather shifted since the Daydream View’s initial launch; mobile virtual reality seems to have stalled a little, and standalone devices are being released. In this review, we’ll see how the View stacks up against other similar headsets regarding hardware, design, key features, and content.
Google Daydream View Pros and Cons
Fantastic design that utilises comfortable fabric and a snug fit.
Paired with a controller that is intuitive and accurate.
Priced competitively and works with many headsets.
Content library is hit and miss.
No support for iOS devices.
Image quality is somewhat limited.
Google Daydream View Key Specs
We’ll start by looking at some of the key specs of the Daydream View headset. It should be pointed out that without a smartphone the headset is just a pair of fabric-clad goggles. We covered compatibility and further details in our in-depth look at the device.
The Google Daydream View works with the most recent versions of Android installed on your phone. It uses the Daydream app to power the VR experience.
CPU, RAM, and Storage
The headset has no processing or storage hardware built into it, unlike the Oculus Go. Instead, it draws power from your smartphone. Again, this means that processing power, RAM, and storage will vary depending on your handset.
The headset doesn’t require a connection in order to run the VR experience; it sits in the cradle at the front. However, you can plug in headphones into your phone to hear the audio.
The headset uses your smartphone sensors.
167.8x 117.1 x 100.2mm
261 g (9.2 oz.)
£99/$139 plus the cost of a compatible phone.
So, the Google Daydream view depends largely on the phone that’s powering it. That being said, the headset itself is well made and comes bundled with a controller. For the price, it’s comparable to the Samsung Gear VR.
Google Daydream View Hardware
One of the features we like the most about the Google Daydream View VR headset is the controller that comes bundled with it. VR controllers can be somewhat hit and miss; the PlayStation VR being a good example of one that doesn’t quite work how we wanted it to. However, Google has produced an excellent little handheld controller to pair with the View. It’s discreet enough to fit nicely into the headset when being stored, yet still robust enough to give a good experience when using it. Although it’s limited to 3DoF tracking, it’s responsive and accurate. The only slight disappointment is that it doesn’t have a trigger on the back in the same way the Gear VR controller does. It’s definitely not on a par with the HTC Vive controllers, but we still liked it well enough.
The headset’s lenses are of a high quality, but unfortunately, that doesn’t entirely compensate for phone screen quality. Even with the best OLED mobile screens, the quality isn’t comparable to premium headsets such as the Oculus Rift. It also suffers from the usual screen door effects, but that’s to be expected. We found that pixels were particularly noticeable when running video on the headset, whereas on some of the more cartoony games it was less noticeable.
Google Daydream View Key Features
There’s a lot to like about the Google Daydream headset. Even though it’s not the most feature-laden piece of tech we’ve looked at, it certainly has some standout points:
We’ll speak about this in more detail further down, but we absolutely loved the design of the View. Unlike the Cardboard, which was unassuming and simple, the Daydream feels more like a plush accessory than a piece of technology. It really makes it stand out from the crowd.
The controller is something we covered in depth in the hardware section, but safe to say it’s one of the best things about the Daydream View headset. It makes interacting with your virtual environment easy and intuitive.
In the box
Google keep it simple with their box contents. After all, there’s not a whole lot that needs connecting. You are provided with the Daydream View headset, Daydream controller, Removable top strap, and a Quick Start Guide.
This is a device that’s short on anything remarkable or ground-breaking. Instead, it does mobile VR comfortably and intuitively.
Key Features: 8/10
Google Daydream View Design
The design of the Google Daydream View is what sets it apart from most other headsets. Their choice to produce a device made of lightweight fabric means it’s both comfortable and not too heavy. At times, we barely noticed we had it on. It feels great to touch, and the padding around the face area means it sits comfortably. The previous version of the headset didn’t vent heat particularly well, and the fabric was a little less durable. This meant it (rather grossly) absorbed a fair amount of face sweat. Google has definitely fixed this problem with the 2017 version, providing better ventilation and fabric.
The extra head straps are a nice addition too, although not entirely necessary. The device never felt heavy, even after a relatively long session of wearing it. The straps also took some adjusting, as it was very tight when we first tried to put it on. Aside from this, everything about the design is well thought out. The cradle holds the phone effortlessly and clips into place nicely, and the controller has its own little storage space for when you’re not using it.
Google Daydream View Software and Content
The Daydream interface looks great. When you put on the headset, you are greeted with a beautiful vista that has a variety of floating panels; these are your apps. It’s fairly easy to navigate the interface, with all of the various settings where you’d expect to find them. One minor disappointment is that voice commands aren’t supported, something we liked about the Samsung Gear VR. Despite this, the controller is more than adequate for navigating your virtual experience.
There are definitely a growing number of apps on the Daydream platform, although sadly it doesn’t quite have the breadth of the Oculus store. Entertainment apps are at a premium, with services such as Netflix, YouTube, and SkyVR all being present. There are plenty of games too, although they vary quite a bit in quality. Titles such as Eve: Gunjack 2 (above) and Need for Speed Limits impressed us, but some of the more mobile-looking games weren’t worth the bother. Overall, the experience is fun, but not something you could sit and do for hours on end.
Google Daydream View Review: Final Thoughts
We liked the Google Daydream View VR headset. It feels nice, and it’s a viable mobile virtual reality option for a lot of smartphone owners. The fact that Google added a lot more compatibility with the latest version has increased its potential reach, more so than the Samsung equivalent. We also thought the controller was a great addition, making the whole experience enjoyable. However, the market seems to be changing. Standalone devices are on the way, and premium devices are becoming more affordable. The Daydream doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself from other devices, particularly with its range of content. Overall, it’s a good choice for those who want to get a small taste of what VR can do, but will leave more experienced customers wanting more.
Fantastic design that utilises comfortable fabric and a snug fit
Paired with a controller that is intuitive and accurate
Priced competitively and works with many headsets
Content library is hit and miss
No support for iOS devices
Image quality is somewhat limited
The Daydream doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself from other devices, particularly with its range of content. Overall, it’s a good choice for those who want to get a small taste of what VR can do, but will leave more experienced customers wanting more.