Review: Google Daydream View
4.4Overall Score

Price (RRP): $119
Manufacturer: Google

Once upon a time there was Google Glass, which was Google’s experiment with a kind of augmented reality. Then there was Google Cardboard, which was a passive, low cost device which could turn a phone into a virtual reality viewer.

And now there’s Google Daydream View. This is Google’s serious foray into virtual reality.

Features

Serious indeed, at a price of $149, but currently (as I write) discounted to $119 at Google’s online store.

Like Google Cardboard, Google Daydream View is essentially a passive device. It holds your phone close to your face, and provides lenses so that you can focus on the screen up close. It works in conjunction with an app on the phone that divides the screen in half so that each eye can see only its half. That enables such things as a 3D view, if implemented.

But, just as importantly, the app also pays attention to the phone’s motion sensors and uses all this information to change the view. If you rotate your head to the left, you see further to the left than you could see before. Likewise for up, down, behind you. Ideally, it’s as though you’re in a completely different place, at least as far as your eyes can see. You just move your head to look at something else, just like the real world. That is virtual reality.

I’ll note briefly that Google is also currently spruiking its “Daydream standalone VR headsets”, which it says are “coming soon”. They, presumably, will have the screen and the smarts built in.

The Daydream View is finished in a soft, stylish fabric. The review unit’s colour was light grey, called “Fog”, and there’s also a dark grey “Charcoal” and a reddish “Coral” available. The problem with VR is the weight hanging on the front of one’s face. Google has kept this one about as light as possible. According to my scales, they weigh 266 grams.

The lenses are large, around 42mm in diameter. That tends to provide a good wide angle of view.

The Daydream View is not entirely passive. It comes with the Daydream controller, which connects to your phone wirelessly. It also has motion sensors and some buttons to control things. It has a rechargeable battery. You’ll have to use your phone’s charger and cable. It uses a USB Type-C socket for charging.

Compatibility

The Daydream View came from Google with the Google Pixel 2 XL, reviewed here, so I decided to use that phone for this review. But it isn’t locked into that phone alone. Google specifies a number of phones it considers suitable. They include, apart from both Pixel 2 models:

The criteria for inclusion is, apparently, that “Daydream-ready phones are built for VR with high-resolution displays, ultra-smooth graphics and high-fidelity sensors.” That makes sense.

I’m not sure where that leaves phones like the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, which meat those criteria but aren’t listed. And presumably more recent models, such as the Huawei Mate 10 would also work.

Nope: Huawei Mate 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7 aren’t compatible with Daydream app

Or maybe note. The Google Play Store reported that the Daydream app was not compatible with the Huawei Mate 10 (nor, for that matter, with the Samsung Galaxy S7, nor the Oppo R11). So make sure your phone comports with Google’s list of compatible models.