Google launched the Daydream View headset back in 2016. At the time of its debut, mobile VR was experiencing an increase in popularity. This success was partially driven by a slew of new headsets arriving on the market, across all levels of virtual reality. Samsung was improving their Gear VR headset, while Sony had just launched their PlayStation VR device. Google had themselves seen some success with their Google Cardboard headset and the aim with the Daydream headset and platform was to continue building on that success.
2018 sees the market in a slightly different shape. Mobile VR seems to have a number of challengers, with premium and standalone headsets becoming ever more affordable. Despite this, the Daydream View is a very capable device in many respects. So much so that Google released and updated model in 2017. Whether or not it’s a device released at the end of an era remains to be seen, however. In this guide, we’ll take a look at every aspect of the headset. This includes how it works and how much it costs, how it compares to other similar devices, and some of the best gaming and entertainment apps currently available. It’s a companion article to our Google Daydream View review.
What is the Google Daydream View?
The Google Daydream View is a virtual reality headset. It has a soft fabric design and is paired with a controller for interacting with virtual environments. To make use of the headset, you will need to own a compatible Android smartphone. After Google released the Cardboard VR device, it was clear that there was a market for VR and AR (augmented reality) outside of high-end and expensive devices. With the progress that had been made on the smartphone processing power front, the VR teams at Google were eager to push the boundaries of virtual reality. The result was the first Daydream View headset.
Daydream has a soft and welcoming design, with grey cloth covering the majority of the headset. It’s comfortable, lightweight, and convenient
From the day it was announced, this headset stood out from the crowd. Until then, we’d seen very familiar concepts for these types of headsets; moulded plastic designs that had a front slot for a phone. The Daydream has a soft and welcoming design, with grey cloth covering the majority of the headset. It’s comfortable, lightweight, and convenient. Alongside the hardware, Google also released the Daydream software platform. This app brings together a variety of experiences, games, and applications that allows the user to experience an immersive other world.
How the Google Daydream View Works
The original Daydream View headset required a smartphone to power it. The 2017 model is the same, although thankfully Google has expanded the range of phones that are compatible with it. It requires a model that has an OLED screen that’s capable of outputting at least 1080p resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. In addition, the phone screen must be between 4.7 and 6 inches wide. This includes Google’s own Pixel 2 range, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 range, as well as a variety of Motorola and Huawei handsets.
There is a cradle on the front of the device that opens up to hold your phone. Two lenses in the headset focus on the phone’s screen, and when paired with the dual image on the screen, it creates a stereoscopic 3D image. The device uses 3 degrees of freedom (3DoF) tracking, meaning that rotational head movements are translated into the on-screen experience. A paired controller allows you to navigate the interface and interact with the virtual world that you become immersed in. This controller also has 3DoF tracking. You can also pair your Daydream experience with a Google Chromecast, so other people can observe on a TV what you see in VR.
Google Daydream View Requirements
One of the main focuses of Google’s headset is that it requires very little in order to operate it. Many people already possess a handset that is capable of running the virtual reality software. The list of compatible phones includes:
Google Pixel & Pixel XL and Pixel 2 & Pixel 2 XL
Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+
Asus ZenFone AR
Motorola Moto Z 2 Force
ZTE Axon 7
Huawei Mate 9 Pro
It’s the high-quality phones, fast processors, and high-fidelity sensors that make these handsets suitable for use with the Daydream View. You’ll notice that they’re all Android-based devices; currently, iOS devices don’t have much compatibility with mobile VR headsets.
The only other requirement is that you have the Daydream app installed on your phone. This software is a launch pad for a range of VR experiences, from movies and 360-degree videos to games and other apps.
How Much Does the Google Daydream View Cost?
One of the reasons that VR has struggled to connect with a mainstream audience is the usually prohibitive price of the premium headsets. The Oculus Rift, even with a recent price drop, still costs around £399/$399. At the time of writing, the 2017 version of the View costs just £99/$139. This price point is comparable to the Samsung Gear VR. The price is certainly reasonable if you already own a handset that’s capable of running the software and producing high enough quality. However, if not then the cost soon mounts up. The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL handsets cost £579/ $899 to £799/ $1,059, for example.
With the extraordinary cost of the most capable handsets in mind, options such as the PlayStation VR seem appealing. Even with the cost of the console included, the price range becomes similar. The PSVR far outperforms the Daydream View regards to quality, however.
Google Daydream View vs Oculus Go
One of the biggest changes to the VR landscape is the arrival of standalone headsets. These are self-contained devices that do not require a smartphone or external device to power them. Perhaps the closest rival to the Daydream View is the Oculus Go. From the makers of the Oculus Rift, this headset packs a similar mobile processor and Android-based OS that is found on Daydream-compatible handsets. With a price of £199/$199, it’s slightly pricier than the View, but there are no extra costs associated (such as an expensive smartphone). There are more games and apps available too, and as we saw in our Oculus Go review, the device gives a unique and high-quality experience.
Both the View and the Go have similar specs aside from that though, with 3DoF head tracking, a paired controller, and a similar level of visual fidelity.
Google Daydream View vs Samsung Gear VR
In terms of the closest direct rival, the Samsung Gear VR is competitive on both price and functionality. Again, it costs £99/$129.99, requires a flagship Samsung Galaxy handset to operate it, and comes bundled with a controller. We actually really liked the Gear VR in our review of it. The fact it’s backed by Oculus means it has a wide variety of games and apps available, many of which are immensely enjoyable. The controller is also impressive on the Gear VR, with a rear trigger helping with gameplay. The only problem with Samsung’s headset is that it’s only compatible with Samsung phones. This restricts the market for it somewhat and will discourage some from considering it.
Google Daydream View vs Lenovo Mirage Solo
The other standalone headset currently available is the Lenovo Mirage Solo. Google had a hand in the making of this headset too, and it runs on the same Daydream platform as the View. There are a number of differences between the two devices, however. First is the price; at £349/$399 it’s considerably more expensive than the smartphone-based device. However, it certainly packs in the technology. One of the main features of the Mirage Solo is its 6DoF tracking and WorldSense technology. Two front-facing cameras track the users’ movements and translate them into virtual movements.
In our review, we were impressed by the technical aspects of Lenovo’s headset but felt it was rather let down by the amount of content that took advantage of those features. However, it’s certainly a step up from the View in both quality and price.
Google Daydream View for Entertainment
The Daydream app has a similar user interface to that offered by Oculus Home. There’s a lot you can do with the platform, besides play games. With the updated headset and software, Google introduced more social elements to the VR experience. Users can capture video and images from their sessions and share them with friends. It’s also possible to view 360-degree YouTube movies and VR videos together with your social connections.
Many of Google’s proprietary apps are also available on Daydream, such as YouTube, Street View, Play Movies, Play Store and Google Photos. Third-party support includes services like Netflix, New York Times VR, and BBC Earth. Overall, there are a lot of great experiences to be had with the headset.
Google Daydream View for Gaming
Games are usually short, ideal to pick up and play but not particularly well suited to long sessions.
Games are why many people choose to buy VR technology. Although the tech is still in its early years, the lure of immersive and interactive gaming is great. There are certainly some good options for the View, as we’ll see below. The head tracking and controller support perform adequately well for the majority of apps. It’s never going to rival premium-level headsets, but it’s not really supposed to. Instead, the gaming capabilities of this device are supposed to give a small taste of what’s possible. Games are usually short, ideal to pick up and play but not particularly well suited to long sessions. Due to the hardware, most of the games available are mobile games with an added dimension of movement.
Google Daydream View Top Games
When the Daydream platform first launched, it felt a little sparsely populated compared to some rival stores. However, there have been plenty of additions over the years, meaning there is more to choose from than ever. Below, we’ve outlined to of the best games for the Google Daydream view at the time of writing:
This Daydream exclusive is a third-person shooter that places the player in the role of one of two characters. There’s an option Co-op mode that’s playable over Wi-Fi too, which is incredibly fun. Players must fend off a horde of demons and power up their attacks to survive as long as possible.
Another exclusive title to the Daydream is Untethered. This is an intriguing title, equal parts radio series and mystery story. Players get to explore a range of strange phenomena while taking calls, talking to people, and uncovering clues.
This title is actually more like a few mini-games rolled into one. It’s a charming game that takes full advantage of the hardware it operates on. There’s nothing overly deep or complex, but it’s enough to entertain the kids every so often.
Google Daydream View Review
We’ve already given our thoughts about our hands-on experience with the Daydream View in our full review. However, it’s evident that it’s a device that stands out in a crowded marketplace. The design alone is enough to make users rethink what a VR headset represents. For those that already have a high-performance Android phone, the View is a good option to try out some of what VR has to offer. However, serious gamers and tech lovers will feel a little disappointed.
With standalone headsets being released, and premium headsets becoming much more affordable, the days of mobile VR seem limited. Until then, the Google Daydream View is an affordable headset that offers modest performs across a wide range of apps.
Fantastic design that utilises comfortable fabric and a snug fit
Paired with a controller that is intuitive and accurate
Priced competitively and works with many headsets
Content library is hit and miss
No support for iOS devices
Image quality is somewhat limited
The Daydream doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself from other devices, particularly with its range of content. Overall, it’s a good choice for those who want to get a small taste of what VR can do, but will leave more experienced customers wanting more.