#WhateverWednesday Virtual Insanity!

Frankie Av

I have wanted a pair of VR glasses/goggles for along time, the ones which have tiny screens in each eye to give the impression of watching a huge screen. Every time I went to buy a pair, I talked myself out of it. As I do for most things before I buy I did a little research and discovered that the majority of people said they were not really worth their money. The screens lacked definition, poor colouring, lack of adjustments in some models and poor quality footage in display. Considering the price of some of the high-end glasses, I decided to wait until something better came out.

With the announcement of the Gear VR headset for Samsung, my interest in this personal  theatre experience was piqued again. Until three weeks ago, I had owned three different Samsung S3 mobile phones. I always felt they were the best phones on the market, so any time my mobile contract was due up, I’d just source another S3. Therefore I was genuinely excited to try out the Gear VR. Alas, it was not to be. When my contract ran out a few weeks ago, I decided to go for a different phone model entirely, one which does not fit the Gear VR.

So on the final day of our holidays last week, I decided to look for a VR headset with a universal fitting for any phone. The market is now flooded with such headsets, so much so that choosing one was difficult. Again, I did a little research on different models and unfortunately found that a great amount of them had positive views simply because the reviewer had been given the headset either for free or at reduced cost in exchange for a good review. Despite many saying that this in no way swayed their opinion, I was a little put off by the sheer amount of overly positive reviews on single items all saying the same thing: Got them for free in exchange for a review-they are great. So remember, even if an item has over 200 five star reviews, read them to find out if their view is biased in such a way. I eventually found a pair that was cheap as chips, with a universal fitting and available in a shop local to me so I was able to get them straight away without having to wait for a delivery.

The Stealth VR headset is simply a glorified Google Cardboard–as are most of these vr headsets. There are two lenses, both adjustable in focal and pupil focus. The difference from the cardboard version is they are much more comfortable to wear. The eye area is very well padded, the head straps are easily adjustable with large velcro pads. I had seen many models with built in headphones, but I own many sets of head/earphones so this model was perfect for me and cheap enough to try out. I also received a little pair of retractable headphones in one of my Loot Anime crates that go perfect with this model!

There are so many vr apps available on both Android and Apple, but the reason I wanted the headset or theatre glasses was so I could watch a movie or anime in bed without disturbing my husband with the screen brightness glaring him from a tablet or laptop. Of course, I have tried a lot of the apps and they are pretty amazing. Some are awfully glitchy, but the majority are very clever and do immerse you in an experience. These apps eat the phone battery and heat up the processor so much I had to stop using the headset to allow my phone to cool down. Then I discovered that this headset has a removable front especially to allow air circulation while using VR apps.  But, for watching movies–the very reason I bought the headset–it is absolutely perfect!

I ended up using one of my old Samsung S3 models so that I didn’t damage my new phone. Since it is the screen of your phone you see, the picture through the viewer is exceptional. It is crystal clear and highly coloured. There is no bending of the headset lense to misshape the view, and no loss of picture definition. But the S3 screen is not quite as good as my new Xperia, and as a result I can see tiny pixels on the S3 screen when viewed through the headset. I can not see the pixels on my Xperia when it is in the headset, but I don’t want to damage my new phone and the pixels are so tiny they do not ruin the experience at all for me.

I dare say that actual VR goggles, the ones I originally wanted, are much lighter on the face and easier to wear since they do not require a mounted phone. They will also look a lot neater than wearing the headset as to accommodate a phone they are built rather large. But these are very minor issues and for the cost and quality of the Stealth VR, I am more than happy to look like a complete idiot as they do exactly what I wanted and in comfort!

So if you are ever looking for a wearable VR item, do a lot of research on different models, find the right one for you. If you want to be able to play the actual VR apps, be mindful of the fact your phone will heat up inside a headset. Make sure the lenses are fully adjustable, otherwise you will have problems seeing the images and more than likely will suffer eye pain from constantly trying to focus.
If it’s just movies you want to watch? I recommend the Stealth VR or something similar. Cost effective, durable, lightweight, well constructed, highly adjustable and comfortable. It ticked all my boxes and are absolutely perfect for my needs 😀 I also recommend the Cardboard Cinema app, as it allows you to watch the movies you already own and displays them as SBS (side-by-side) format especially for VR headsets.

As for controlling your phone while it is in the headset, yeah, that’s not quite so easy. This particular headset and the vast majority of others do not have button controllers built in. I have seen bluetooth controllers which I might try, but first I am going to try a USB-to-go cable and a plug -and-play controller to see if that works. I have these items on hand, so no extra cost if it works! I will let you know if it does!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE


About oneofthedragons

Samantha K. Balk and F. R. Donaldson met on An Archive of Our Own, one of the many fanfiction sites online, when Sam asked Frankie to illustrate the fanfiction that would one day lead to Sam's first novel. They've been friends ever since! This blog was created as a way to share the oftentimes difficult journey any new author experiences on the uncomfortable quest of an introvert for attention to his or her most personal work. It is meant to remind you that authors don't just appear fully fledged like a George R. R. Martin, that all of us start out unsure and feeling inadequate. Feel free to ask us anything. Sam: sammykaye9@gmail.com Frankie: reluctant.fraggle@gmail.com

Posted on July 27, 2016, in #WhateverWednesday, Frankeh Updates, Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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