There is a big hype around virtual reality and everyone is trying to hitch a ride on the VR train. This is good for consumers because the hardware is getting cheaper and VR content more abundant. The downside, if you could call it that, is the choice and finding the right product.
For the real virtual reality experience, the stuff you see in the movies, you still need a powerful computer, the proper software and relatively pricey hardware like the Oculus Rift, but with a reasonable smartphone and an affordable headset, you can still get a good VR experience and have a lot fun.
It’s not only about looking around in a 3D environment, you can go on a virtual roller coaster ride, play some cool games and, what I personally like the most, watch 3D movies on your phone, shutting out the world around you - headphones are a must.
All you need for your home VR experience is a smartphone and a VR Headset, here are a few tips to help you decide on what suits your needs the best.
The mother of affordable VR headsets, actually Google calls it a viewer and that is a closer description than headset. Naturally it is designed for Android operating phones but it is not very complicated to have some fun with iPhones too. You can either build your own Cardboard using Google’s schematics or buy a third party viewer with prices around $20, recently they have made Google Cardboard viewers available on the Playstore too.
The Google VR viewers are crude, mostly missing a head strap and not very comfortable. But if you are only curious about VR and are looking for a cheap headset for a first experience then Google Cardboard is not the worst choice.
Samsung’s Gear VR
The Gear VR is tailored for the more recent premium Samsung smartphones. If you are the proud owner of the Galaxy S6, S7 series and the Note 5 or later, and you want to dip your toes into the VR world then it is worth the $99.99 investment, in some parts the S7 edge comes in a bundle with a free Gear VR.
Samsung has teamed up with Imangi Studios, Cirque du Soleil, Netflix and Marvel Entertainment to give its users some exclusive content, a convincing sales argument.
The headset has a nice techy design. The quality is in line with the price, so if you have one of the newer Samsung devices then the Gear VR is the right choice.
There are loads of other VR Headsets on the market, mostly from Asian/ Chinese manufacturers, the problem is that the brands are mostly unknown in our parts and you can hardly find one in a store to take a closer look at the quality.
We can’t test all the products out there but Gearbest sent us a free sample of the Ling VR to review (like to many others too) and we will use it as a reference.
The packaging is good, it comes in a cool black box with a techy design.
The Headset comes with a Bluetooth mouse with volume control and batteries included (which unfortunately extended the delivery time noticeably).
The VR Headset has a cool spacey design, there is no shame in displaying it on your shelf or desk.
The quality is good, there is a lot of plastic, but it is lightweight, robust and has a good adjustable head strap which is better than most head straps I have seen.
There is a large choice of phones that you can use with the headset, even iPhones.
There is an extra, changeable foam protection for the eyepiece.
The not so Good
Everything is in Chinese, there is not much to know about how to use the headset but I couldn’t read the manual to see if I am missing anything. Luckily there are a lot of reviews on the internet so it is easy to get any questions answered.
There are links to two apps that you can use, one for games and one for watching movies, but once again in Chinese so I didn’t quite get how to use them properly.
There was no QR code for the Google Cardboard app, once again I had to search the internet for one.
The Ling VR Headset did not disappoint, you get what you expect from the description and pics. Of course you should always consider the price you are paying when comparing to other brands. At less than $45 ($60 on Amazon) it is a good alternative to Cardboard or Gear VR ( for those who do not have a Samsung device). We think that other manufacturers will also have comparable quality if you should find something similar on the internet. It is important to take a closer look at the description and the pics to see if the lenses or the head strap are adjustable etc. An internet search for reviews would be helpful to avoid unpleasant surprises.