Sep 28, 2015
Virtual reality is the thing right now, and I’d be lying if I said that I do not find it highly intriguing. With Google leading the mobile charge, one can easily see it ramp up, and Google Play is beginning to see more and more creative app entries.
In terms of hardware, there are options; the cardboard ones are definitely cool, but there are also newer pieces with sturdier materials, like the Immerse Virtual Reality Headset.
At the risk of showing one’s age, it just might remind one of those retro View-Master sets — those cool toys of yesteryear that used clickable reels to piece together a visual story. Like those, this unit is stereoscopic in nature, but is decidedly a bit more contemporary with regards to the way it incorporates technology.
The review unit itself comes in its retail packaging; one gets the headset and documentation. The unit is mostly black and consisting of a hard plastic finish. As noted earlier, picturing a View-Master gets one a rough idea of how it looks, and the strap towards the rear helps hold it in place on one’s head.
Towards the front, there are clips, which, when manipulated, allow the user to open the unit and reveal a hollow cavity with a simple adjustable mechanism that holds the inserted device in place; this allows one to slot in an appropriately sized smartphone that essentially powers the setup.
Before setting up, one has to find a VR app; Google Play has several in addition to the few that were suggested on the retail packaging.
When it’s all ready to go, with app installed and running and the whole thing put on, it’s time to go.
Both lenses line up perfectly, and the unit works with surprising effectiveness. Depending on the app selected, it can be a the, uh, immersive experience; it does bring the virtual world to life. At first, it can even be a bit disconcerting — in an interesting way — till the user gets used to it. For such reasons, it’s almost as much fun watching someone else use the unit. Word of caution: make sure to refrain from “walking” into or with the experience!
It’s a fun diversion, but in truth, it’s only as good as the VR software available. The pickings are still relatively sim with regards to “real” games. Without a controller, it is a bit difficult to manipulate the games without constantly opening the unit to get the device out. Also, phablets are iffy, with the 5.7″ screen size ceiling; one also has to watch the device one uses, because if, say, the power button is on the one side, it could press against the internal holding piece and cause problems.
Still, for a relatively cheap solution, the Immerse is pretty enjoyable to use. It does open up a whole new sector to a new type of fan, and is great in groups or when one is solitary.