Google is continuing its fabric-based VR headset with an upgraded design selling for around $100 that’s compatible with all existing Daydream-ready phones as well as the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
The original Daydream View had some comfort problems, with a design that didn’t fit many head sizes. I offered it to three women in my family and they all had trouble with the fitting. While the original View fit me, it also weighed heavily on the face and it was possible to look to the side and see out the edge of the headset to the real world beyond. While I can only speak to my own brief experience with the new headset design, I found it to be a significant improvement.
The new Daydream View adds a top strap like Gear VR that helps balance the weight. It also stores the controller in a loop in the strap behind the head, whereas the original stored it inside the headset when not in use. Inside the phone cradle is a heat sink meant to more efficiently dissipate heat from the phone so that it stays in peak performance for longer. Google claims that the heat sink will dissipate heat faster than if it were exposed to just the open air, like the Gear VR. So you can ideally stay in VR as long as you want. The new headset is also lighter, according to Google, and in my hands-on time I noticed none of the problems I had with the original version. I did note a different issue — small lines of light leaking in from what appeared to be edges of the phone. It could be due to the way the phone was positioned inside the Daydream View cradle.
Google said the new View should work on smaller head sizes but that it is still designed for people aged 13 and up. The buttons on the controller are also more pronounced. Google only had some 360-degree YouTube videos prepared for my hands-on time, but what I saw even streaming from the Web was surprisingly high quality. There was a version of WEVR’s The Blu, for instance, and I was impressed by how it looked compared to the HTC Vive version I’ve tried before. You obviously can’t lean around in the video, but it still looked very nice for a streaming video.
One thing that blew me away about the Pixel 2 in the new Daydream View was the new front-facing speaker design on the phone. I cranked up the volume and it was super loud. I would’ve loved to give this more of a test because it was impressive to hear something so loud without wearing earbuds. I suspect these speakers can actually enhance immersion when paired with directional audio because the absence of earbuds would be one less reminder of the real world, but that will have to wait for a more extensive hands-on test.
The new Daydream View will start shipping Oct. 17.