Google blew the doors on the Virtual Reality world wide open when they announced Google Cardboard last year at the annual developers conference, and since then there have been a range of other offerings to hit the market, some built from the ground up and others built off the Google Cardboard layout. LG's VR for G3 is the latter, looking like a plastic version of the Cardboard setup but made especially for the LG G3 with specific cutouts for the G3's rear-facing power button and volume rocker setup. The build is deceptively simple, yet feels a little more solid then Cardboard as it's made from a tougher material. For the most part, the VR for G3 unit works just like Google Cardboard, so if you've ever had the experience to try that, it isn't much different here.
The build of the VR viewer is broken up into three pieces, and they basically fit together like LEGO's. You simply power on the G3 and place it in the front part of the viewer (the white piece) then snap the other two pieces into place and that's all there is to it. The VR for G3 has no battery, but it also works quite differently than something like the Samsung Gear VR which draws power from the Note 4. With VR for G3 the unit doesn't have to draw power so the only battery power being used up is for the G3 itself, which helps for longevity. There are slots on both sides where you can attach a headstrap if you wish, although the main design is meant just to hold. The sides of the headset also lets just a little bit of light in, so it feels slightly less immersive than the Gear VR. Just like with the Cardboard viewer there is a little round magnetic switch on the side you can pull down on to cycle through things, but before you can experience anything you'll need to start with downloading some virtual reality enabled applications that work with the VR for G3.
Just like with Google Cardboard and other similar VR viewers/headsets, with the VR for G3 a good place to start is with the Cardboard app you can find in the Play Store, and this will be filled with some demos and other things to help showcase what is possible with the VR experiences from VR for G3, Cardboard and other VR viewers. It's great for tech demos and to show family and friends what the unit can do, and kind of a cool little experience personally if you've never used anything that uses VR tech before. It'll let you use Google Earth in 3D, and you can even view the photo sphere images within the Cardboard app as well. There are some full fledged VR apps though that aren't all demos and they're definitely worth looking into. Apps like VR Cinema for Cardboard which takes any MP4 video and turns it into a split-screen view for playback was pretty interesting and makes for a nice refreshing way to watch old videos in a new perspective. When it comes to applications, there are loads more than you might expect, and if you aren't sure how to begin looking for them, simply open up the Cardboard app and it'll prompt you to tap on a link to access more VR apps within the Play Store. You'll do this before you place the phone inside of the VR for G3 viewer of course.
Using the VR for G3 is extremely simple. After you snap the phone into place and assemble the VR viewer, (you'll want to open any apps you plan on using before you complete this step) looking around the room is all you have to do to place the cursor over what you want to access. It works well although it was a little jittery from time to time. As stated above using the little round magnet switch on the side by pulling down on it will let you select stuff. Since there is no back button here like with the Gear VR, exiting out to the main menu requires you to turn the headset vertically so the magnet on the left hand side faces up. You basically lift the headset away from your face and turn it upwards in an arc motion.
This took a few seconds for it to register what I wanted, so once you have it facing in a vertical position, you have to hold it here for a couple of seconds before the headset returns to the main menu of whatever app you're in. It's a simple process only limited by the fact there is one switch that only carries one single function, but it works, and I didn't notice any inconsistency. Using the VR for G3 at length is only limited to your tolerance for how long you can or want to hold the viewer up to your face. If you don't mind doing this for extended periods of time, you can watch a full movie, and keep in mind that VR for G3 is built to support a headstrap if you want one, although that doesn't come in the box with the unit and you'll have to pick one up separately. With the Samsung Gear VR, the headset heats up and starts to lag after about 30-45 minutes in my personal experience so enjoying a full length film without any disruptions was a little more difficult, however it was more comfortable during use as the headset was fastened on without me having to hold it and it's equipped with a soft foam to suction to your facial contours, where the VR for G3 is not, and this may cause slight discomfort for some people after extended periods of time.
While the VR for G3 is really no different than Google Cardboard or other similar Cardboard-based units when you get down to core functionality, it does have a better feel than Cardboard as it's made of plastic. Since LG is also giving them away for free when you purchase a G3, it's kind of a nice little perk that won't cost you any extra like if you were to look into Cardboard units from other vendors. It isn't by any means groundbreaking when you compare it to something like the upcoming HTC Vive or even the Samsung Gear VR, both of which have more capability due to the hands free nature of it and a wider set of content, but for the average person who wants start out with something simple, the VR for G3 is perfect and since there is no real electronic components or software in the headset to deal with, there's no worry of it breaking down on you. It's simple and understated, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you want your own VR headset and could use an LG G3 to go with it, be sure to enter our international giveaway for your chance to win an LG G3 and a VR headset.