Omoton VR Virtual Reality Box provides a comfortable, enjoyable viewing experience.
CES 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada proved to be an amazing experience. There were a few common threads woven throughout the show, and the one that seemed to be the most common was virtual reality technology. From Google Cardboard, to Oculus, to other cardboard and clip on or headset VR glasses, VR viewers in general were very popular among the many people at the show. I was able to test many of them and I was able to see some of their strengths and their weaknesses. I was not a big fan of the cardboard style VR viewers. They reminded me of the child toy we had in the 1990’s, View Finder and View Master. It was amazing to experience this technology, first hand. Virtual reality has certainly come a long way since the Nintendo Virtual Boy, which caused substantial headache to both Nintendo and the users of the device. Also, I would not do the device justice if I did not mention the nausea. This aspect unfortunately seems to persist to this day with 3D viewing. With modern smart devices having all of the necessary sensors, it just makes sense that companies would make a peripheral to utilize the smart phone. This is one of the benefits of the VR headset. They use the technology that is already built into your phone.
I received the Omoton VR Virtual Reality box-3D Glasses headset for review. The device was shipped in a plain cardboard box with an ink outline of the device on the front, the name VR BOX on the top of the packaging and a white sticker with UPC/Barcode. The remainder of the packaging is plain brown cardboard. Opening the lid you immediately find the VR headset encased in plastic, instruction manual, a lens cloth and an Amazon card to leave a review. The product was well packaged, the lenses were covered in plastic, the front was covered n plastic as well. The front is white with red stenciled “VR” and black stenciled “BOX.” The plastic was easily removed from the front, simply peel it off. The lens plastic was easily removed as well. Holding the headset so you can look through the lenses, you can notice 4 points of contact with your head. There are two side straps that are adjustable, an over the head adjustable strap and a really comfortable foam forehead piece that fits nicely across your eyebrows.
The manual was easy to understand and written in acceptable English. One side was English and the other side was written in Chinese. To use the device, slide the tray (right side of the viewer) out and insert your phone into the tray, so that the camera is the first part to enter. The tray itself has a sprinted slider clip that is supposed to hold your phone. This was the weakest part of the device, as I feel it should have a slider on the vertical axis of the phone too. I used an iPhone 6s Plus and I tell you I had plenty of room inside of the clip. The clip is quite firm and did hold the phone very well in the horizontal aspect. It needs to be rubberized to not scratch the side of the phone. When using the VR headset, my phone rocked like a seesaw and this was not acceptable. If you push the phone all the way down toward the home button so that it is snugly up against the plastic, the rocking was markedly reduced. This was most notable with looking up and down during the VR experience.
I did run into two issues with the headset. The first was trying to use my phone in the VR headset. Although it is big enough to hold my phone without a case, it is not capable of managing my phone inside of my Catalyst case. This is designed for a naked, uncased device. This is a limiting factor for me as my phone never comes out of its case. I had to make a special effort to get this out of the case to test the device. For some, this may severely limit the utility of the peripheral. However, I can understand that it would be very difficult to make a peripheral that would work with various devices and then to add the variable of different cases as well. I was able to try the device both with my iPhone 6S plus and my wife’s Samsung Galaxy S5 and the experience was quite nice.
The second issue that I ran into using the headset was with the adjustable straps. If you pull with any force they completely separate away from the main body. There are 2 plastic rectangles separated by a small gap. You can slide the loop of the strap back onto the rectangle and then pull through to reattach the strap. It will take some adjustment to get these to fit comfortably on your head, and to get them snug enough that you do not feel that they will fall off. It took about 20 minutes of finagling with the device to get it to the Goldilocks position. Once I had a good fit, the VR headset was very comfortable and I had no further issues with the straps. The foam that contacts your forehead provides a very comfortable experience. Changing these from person to person, now that is another concern that will need to be addressed. Also, just like with any type of device that contacts your skin, sharing this may transmit some illnesses, especially skin and possibly eye. They did include a lens cloth, but this is not in any way a cleaning/sterilizing cloth.
The VR headset will only be as good as the VR app/360 degree video and the limitations of your device. As stated above, I have an IPhone 6S plus and love the technology. To test the device, I turned to the Internet and searched for the best of VR on IOS. I tested the device with InCell VR(Must Have), Hometown Zombies (mediocre experience, a shooter game where you look at zombies and they get shot, think old school arcade shooter with your eyes as the targeting reticle). Both my Son and I tried DinoTrek VR (Rail movie in 360 degree, running/flying with dinosaurs). I then turned to Jaunt VR. I will be honest, this was the most amazing experience. This immediately made me think that there should be an iTunes view mode that allows you to watch videos using the headset. Jaunt has a series of featured videos and shorts, some concerts, a tour of Disneyland Mainstreet. This list is by no means exhaustive of the options in Jaunt. The worlds are immersive, and work much much better wth a good set of Bluetooth headphones. You can look up and down and all around. Again, the experience is going to depend on the quality of the video and not the headset.
I tried the VR headset next with a game called Sisters. If you are a fan of the horror genre at all, this will give you the heebie jeebies. I will not give away the story, as you need to experience it to know what I am talking about. This experience is made by having a good set of stereo headphones/earbuds as well. Just say that you will hear talking/footsteps and it sounds to be coming from behind you. It will make you want to turn around. Since you are wearing a VR headset, you will see the entire room as you turn around and then…… The Sisters app is a little cartoony and reminds me a little of the Saw series of movies. I then turned to Slasher VR presented by chiller. This is a choose your own adventure story, where you are looking for a killer. The graphics are not the greatest but the experience was utterly amazing. It made me remember the Choose your own Adventure series of books from our youth. This is an original NBC Universal Media LLC production, a murder mystery and you are involved, in the middle of the story in full 360-degree VR. Choose wisely or be prepared to pay for your decision.
There are more and more VR options to chose from, some good and some horrible. The VR apps work by creating two images that then are converted into one through lenses/mirrors. The benefIt of a device like this VR set is developers can utilize the IOS App Store and Google Play store. Discovery VR, multiple Google Cardboard apps, simulators, shooters, rollercoaster rail apps, horror app (my favorite). Google Street view allows you to explore the world through your phone and the Omoton VR headset. This reminded me most of the View Master as a youth. The difference, turn around and you can see everything around you. Google Street view will let you see just about anywhere on the plant, Stonehenge, Great Wall of China Etc.
The headset does have two sliders, one for each eye. This will allow you to zoom in and out with each eye and it also has a left right slider that will allow for further change of the viewing. This allows the device to have nearly universal coverage. I would not allow children under the age of 7 to use this as they can have issues if their eyes get different information. This is the same warning that comes with the Nintendo 3Ds as well.
If I had to summarize, I would say that this device falls into the category of, I did not know that I needed this. I have truly come to enjoy the device and actually put a screen protector and a simple bump guard around the phone. I was able to use these to protect the device, while inside of the VR headset. I had to struggle somewhat to get it to fit my head initially, but then it felt like it was meant for my head. I am in awe of the Choose your own Adventure Slasher and really enjoyed that experience. I would love for there to be more apps like that. Also, it would be absolutely amazing if this company could talk with Apple to have a viewer option for their itunes movies. You can do this with DRM Free (Illegal) movies through Mobile VR Station. Why does Apple not have this as a mode? The youtube 360 degree movies were a let down as the video quality seemed weak on just about all of them. I suspect that Apple will make this available when they implement the “iTheater” experience with their own proprietary headset.
The device weighs 12.9 ounces without the iphone 6s plus and 1 pound 3.4 ounces with the phone. I really love the device other than a few of the issues above: Must take phone out of case and the straps are somewhat annoying to adjust. Neither my wife nor I, wear glasses and thus we did not test these with glasses. However, the dual sliders (one for each eye), should work like a microscope. You should be able to use the slider to adjust the pupil distance and focal distance for your eye/optical prescription. This will work with Apple devices up to 6 inches and Android/Windows based phones from 3.5-6.0 inches. There are cutouts in the slider to allow you to access the Lightning port/USB micro. The specs state that you can use this with your glasses if desired. I would rate this device at 4.5/5. It is not quite 5/5 stars and more than 4/5 stars. I have searched the internet and found that some of these come with a remote. My product did not come with a remote. The viewing angle is nice, the headset is comfortable (although heavy) and is a much more enjoyable experience than I expected. If you have the cardboard, you need to trade up and not look back.
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