Virtual Reality is all the rage right now it. It literally is and it looks to be something which going forward, will continue to feature prominently in the year ahead. Manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Sony are all heavily invested in their takes on virtual reality hardware, while the growing number of software and content options continues to expand as well. So right now, there has never been a better time to get involved with virtual reality. However, to do so does mean that you need to invest in some sort of hardware. It is needed to make the connection and transition from your smartphone to virtual reality and this is where things can get a little more complicated.
At the moment the market largely consists of two ends of the price spectrum. On the one side you have the 'Cardboard' options and on the other side you have the 'Premium' options. While the various Cardboard options are extremely friendly on the pocket and come typically less than $20 (and sometimes completely free + shipping), they are not the most durable of units. After all, they are made of cardboard. At the other end of the spectrum, there is the Premium end and although these come with an enriched experience, greater immersion and fuller virtual reality environment, they also come with an enriched, greater and fuller price tag too. Fortunately though, if you're in the market for something which is a little more durable, immersive but still friendlier on the pocket, there are options. One of which is the INNORI Virtual Reality Headset.
Design & Hardware
Straight off the bat, this headset is available for under $40 which makes it, comparatively speaking, a very affordable unit and much closer in price to the Cardboard options then the Premium ones. Not to mention, it does offer more premium aspects. The most notable of which is the inclusion of the headset strap. The issue with Cardboard is that you generally do have to hold the unit in place in front of your eyes, which can become quite tiresome. Like the more premium options, the INNORI Virtual Reality Headset makes use of a strap which allows the headset to be worn much more naturally and far more comfortably. Not to mention, the strap is adjustable so that it can be molded to fit different sized heads.
Moving to the main unit and this is largely a plastic affair. Which, when considering the price and the fact that the alternative affordable options are cardboard-based, this is not much of an issue. There is a vent on the front which helps to keep the smartphone running a little cooler and the top comes with switches which allows for adjusting of the pupil and object distances separately.
Moving to the sides of the device and there are a number of additional open slots in place. These result in providing the user with a more direct access to the ports on a smartphone. So for instance, you can plug your headphones in for a more inclusive virtual reality experience. The right hand side offers the same sort of opening so that you can connect your charger directly while using.
The actual viewing compartment is also rather well cushioned with a good degree of padding on offer. This is another aspect which you will not get if opting for the more cardboard-based options and as such, does provide a greater comfort level and usage and especially for prolonged or extended periods. That is, if you can handle virtual reality for prolonged periods.
Overall, and certainly when considering the price, it was felt that the INNORI Virtual Reality Headset was very well designed. There are always going to be compromises on a product like this and for a market like this, however, the INNORI option does seem to be a well-built and thought through headset. The design does mean it is built to adjust to different size smartphones and also different size heads and as such, is a versatile product, compared to the more one-size-fits-all options that you are likely to come across when shopping for a new VR Headset.
Usage & Performance
In terms of size, this one is also built to accommodate a wide range of smartphones. Which is something that cannot be easily said for the more premium and big-name manufacturers, thanks to their approach of making their hardware device specific. In fact, in terms of the compatibility, the INNORI virtual reality headset is able to house any smartphones which falls within the size range of 4.7-inches and 6-inches. Which is essentially most smartphones nowadays. The VR headset comes with a sort of insert tray which you slide out first and then fit your device inside.
The tray itself contains a small latch mechanism that you have to pull back, slot our device inside and then let go of. At which point, the tray snaps into place and clamps on to your device, locking it in the correct position.
In truth, this is not the easiest of tasks and it does seem relatively impossible to insert your smartphone with even the most basic of cases attached. As such, if you do use a case, you will have to remove and insert the phone directly to make use of the VR headset. Not to mention, the width of the area in which the smartphone has to slide in is a little tight. While this presumably does increase its fitting and help to keep the smartphone in a locked and safe place, it is still a little tight and awkward when using.
This aside, the actual virtual reality headset works quite well and during testing did prove to be a very good virtual reality unit and certainly one better than the more basic cardboard options. The alignment between the two images is relatively good and accurate and the the level of ghosting encountered during testing was very minimal. The viewing field on offer ranges from 92 to 98 degrees and as such, you can turn your head fine and still maintain the integrity of the experience. Once the device is in place, you can connect your headphones through one of the open slots and wear as normal. You can also at this point very slightly adjust the viewing angle to offer a more authentic experience.
If you are someone who is looking to get more involved with virtual reality, but have tried the Cardboard options and found them to be a little too inconvenient then this would certainly be a good middle-ground option to go for. Likewise, if you are undecided on which of the premium options to choose from or do not have one of the devices which is currently supported by the more high-end options, or are someone who just does not want to pay so much to check out the virtual reality experience, then again, this would be a good option to try. It is more comfortable than using Cardboard and although will not offer anywhere near the level or experience of the premium options, for less than $40, it does offer a more convenient way to make use of the current virtual reality content that is becoming increasingly available.