Virtual Reality is here! Here’s how to experience it at an affordable price.

Virtual reality for the Everyman

With every new generation of gaming comes a few new gadgets and fads. With the seventh generation we saw the move to motion controls. Sony released the Sixaxis controller and later the PlayStation Move, Microsoft went the way of the Kinect camera system, and Nintendo led the charge with the Wiimote and Wii motion plus.

Now in the eighth generation of home consoles, we are seeing a rise in Virtual Reality headsets. From the Oculus Rift (which made its debut some time ago) to the Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. With prices for many of these units meeting or exceeding the cost of a new console, many people are unable to make the financial jump into the world of VR gaming.

Enter the smartphone VR experience.

Google Cardboard

Ok… so we put googly eyes on our headset… it’s super funny to watch people use now!

The cardboard headset was one of the first, cheap ways to get your hands on virtual reality. If you had a phone that could handle 360 degree video, you could use the simple $10 headset to experience some rather basic VR scenarios (without much – if any – interaction). The headset came in a flat, cardboard package and required minimal setup. It included lenses built into the cardboard to help you view the phone screen properly. This was a great headset for a first time, but did cause us to feel a bit cross-eyed after using it for more than a few minutes. That said, it was definitely worth the money we spent on it and made for one heck of an initial experience. The cardboard also has an NFC chip in the flap that holds the phone that corresponds to a magnetic switch on one side of the device. This can be used to pause/play videos, or to toggle actions within some basic VR games for mobile.

The Velcro strap is barely held on, and that rubber band is used to keep the device in place.

The biggest downfall to this headset was the velcro head strap that was intended to keep the device in place. It often felt stretched and would press the boxy cardboard headset against your face in an uncomfortable manner. This often left us awkwardly holding the headset like a pair of binoculars rather than actually wearing it. It also didn’t fit very well over glasses, which most of us at YeahDude wear. Some of these design faults were improved when we picked up the Cardboard XL (which we needed in order to utilize my massive Galaxy Note 5 phablet). The XL was a sleek black and featured a head strap that was set at the top of the device and did a much better job at holding the device in place without needing to use hands. It also improved upon the original design by using a piece of packing tape-like plastic on the area that would contact the forehead, preventing stains on the cardboard from sweat or skin oils.

If you want to check out the cardboard headsets, you can find an XL similar to ours HERE or you can check out the classic for smaller phones HERE.

Evo VR

I picked this headset up for a mere $15 at our local Walmart and couldn’t be more pleased with the value. The plastic body is sturdy and the piece that holds the phone in place slides out of and into the device easily. The fact that it can manage to hold my massive Samsung Galaxy Note 5 was impressive as well. It makes use of a sliding, spring-aided phone clip to keep the device in place. Some small, adhesive foam pads came with the device to place into the holster and protect the phone from rattling around or from any buttons being unintentionally pushed. The Evo VR headset has a major hand up from the Google Cardboard in that the lenses you look through are adjustable! They can be individually moved left, right, toward, or away from the eye to help promote proper focus. This really did wonders for not getting headaches or feeling cross-eyed from using the headset.

The Evo fit incredibly comfortably with just the head strap with no need to use the hands for stabilization. It fit comfortable around glasses and the soft foam around the contact points really made for a comfortable viewing experience.

Evo VR with the phone dock extended.

The biggest downside to the Evo VR is that it lacks the NFC connectivity and action button that the Cardboard headset had, meaning that pausing, playing, or skipping a video requires that the device actually be removed from the headset and operated by hand. A blue tooth controller may be able to fix this problem, but we’ll have to let you know if we get our hands on one. 

If you want to pick up your own EVO vr, you can find one HERE and let us know what you think!

Do you know about a cheap VR headset you’d like us to check out? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll give it a look!