VR has been promised to be the big thing of 2016 but with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive already launched and Daydream still at an undefined point in the future there only seems to be one system that’s really hit the big time – Google’s Cardboard. Cardboard works by being a standard way to us the thing we all have – our smart phones to produce VR. Although you can buy Cardboard headset from Google the reason it’s taken off is also because it’s a design system that anyone can build from.
When Google first announced it I downloaded the plans and cut up two pizza boxes to make my first headset. Since that point I’ve had several cardboard Cardboard headsets but using Lily’s GearVR make me look for a more comfortable – and strapped to give my arms a break holding it to my head.
Enter the UMi VR Glasses. They are a plastic shelled headset that conforms to Google’s Cardboard spec but that look much more like the GearVR. Tilt open the front and put your phone and place on your head. The lenses are individually distance adjustable and can be moved apart and together to get a decent eye distance. The base of the goggles has a slideable magnet that depending on your phone could be picked up as a tap. Finally there are three velcro adjustable straps that can hold the headset to your head.
It is surprisingly comfortable to wear with quite thick (and breathable) padding and the ability to focus eyes individually meant that I didn’t have to wear glasses underneath it which was a novelty for me. There’s no electronics in the headset which has the advantage that any smartphone can work with it – but the better the screen and the more powerful the processor the better your experience is likely to be.
Included in the box: Headset, quick start guide, microfibre cleaning cloth.
About UMi Digi
UMi Digital is a Chinese phone handset and accessory maker that focuses on the Asian and African markets.
- Target age range: Adults, Older adults – adjustable but too large for children
- Target gender: Unisex/gender neutral
- Optimized for right handed use
- Target audience: Diverse, wide ranging audience or high end professional/niche product/both
Environment & People
At first glance a Cardboard headset made of cardboard would seem more environmentally friendly – especially when compared to plastic but I’ve been through a number of cardboard headsets and the keep getting crushed or broken in some way which does give the ABS UMiVR the advantage of longevity.
Compared to my cutting up a pizza box the UMi VR is significantly more expensive but with the lenses, head mounting and comfort being genuine improvements the extra cost is justified. The headset does seem to vary up and down in price considerably – I’ve seen it go from £12 to £30 and back to £18 in the last couple of weeks so if you’re looking to pick it up a little patience would be sensible
Product dimensions: 22 x 11 x 12 cm
Capacity: 3.5 – 6.0 Inches
Colour: Black and white
Materials: ABS Resin plastic and fake leather
Removable Front cover for AR apps
Warranty: 30 day money back unconditional, 24 month defect money back
A smart phone with the Google Cardboard app – this is Android, Windows Phone and iOS and a gyroscope. The experience will tend to be better with higher specification – in particular better screened phones.
If you’ve got a mid range or better smart phone then Google Cardboard is something that you should try out. It’s limited compared to the Rift or even the GearVR but its a decent viewer system and a great introduction to VR. If you find yourself using it regularly there are good reasons to upgrade the headset – comfort and fidelity and the UMi VR headset would be a great choice. Recommended and mine’s getting a place on my desk.
The review is based on the Umi Vr Headset (V2) kindly provided by UMi Digi.
Click to read more about our eco icons and access icons used in this review. This article was first published on 24th May 2016.