Just Picked Up: Google Daydream View

Subject: Mobile | February 16, 2017 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: zte, VR, google, daydream

As I mentioned last week, my ZTE Axon 7 has just received Android 7.0 Nougat, which also unlocked Google Daydream VR. I wasn’t able to pick up Google’s VR headset at the time, but now I can, so I did, and I spent a couple of hours messing around with it.

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First, I have to say I am very glad that Google made one headset (and controller) that works with all Daydream-compatible phones. That wasn’t entirely clear when I ordered my Axon 7 last summer, and I feared it would lead to a lot of waiting for my OEM to release a specific headset that may or may not be as good as any another vendor’s, especially sight unseen. I don’t really know how they properly align the screens, across all possible phones and accounting for user-error, but it seems to accept my phone perfectly without really any fiddling. Maybe it’s a simpler problem than I am envisioning, but, either way, the one viewer works with my ZTE Axon 7 -- it’s not just for the Pixel.

My second point is that the phone gets very hot, very quick. I’m sure ZTE knows about this, and the phone is designed around it, but it doesn’t just get warm, it borders on hot-to-the-touch at times. To be safe, I’m removing the case each time I insert it into the Daydream View, although the device seems to work either way. The battery does drain quickly, relative to other workloads, but a single, hour-or-so VR sitting took about 25% off (~75% remaining). Despite the heat and the quick battery drain, you will probably be done with a VR sitting before the device is, so I consider those aspects to be all-around positive.

As for the YouTube app, I’m glad that the virtual screen for standard video can be adjusted in pretty much any way. You can make it bigger or smaller with the track pad, pull it in any direction with motion controls, and adjust whether it’s flat or curved (so all points are equidistant) in the settings. If you want to lay on your back in bed and watch movies “on the ceiling”, then you can... and without holding the phone over your face while your arms go numb.

Yes, I’m speaking from experience.

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As for games? Eh... about the only thing that caught my eye is maybe “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes”. I’m pleasantly surprised it’s there, but it’s about the only thing that is. I knew there wasn’t a whole lot of apps, and that’s fine for me, but you probably shouldn’t get too excited outside of video.

Also, it’d be nice to see Google Chrome in VR. Get on that, Google! A virtual void would make a good place to keep my many, many tabs. It will apparently support WebVR content very soon, but in a “browse, click the Daydream button, mount it in the View, and put it on your head, then undo all that when you’re done” sort of way. It’d be nice to just... stay in the headset to browse.

Anywho, I have it, and those are my thoughts. It’s early, but it seems to work pretty well. I haven’t tried an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive yet, though, so I can’t make any comparisons there.

Source: Google

February 16, 2017 | 12:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

My phone gets too warm just surfing the web. The last thing I would want is to have it explode hot goo all over my eyes and face...

February 20, 2017 | 06:52 AM - Posted by razor512

For the Axon 7, the heat is due to the cooling design, they use a heatpipe along the midframe, which then attached to the aluminum unibody, and that all works as a heatsink. Compared to other devices, the body of the device can more readily feel warm because it is literally using the body of the device as a heatsink. This makes it less likely to get those overheat warnings that some people have had with VR and other smartphones.

The daydream VR headset is still not well designed though, as it covers much of the heatsinking surface with what is effectively a thermal insulation back plate, and a foam insulation front.

February 16, 2017 | 03:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It's too fuzzy it will only become impregnated with tiny cheesepuff flakes and chicken fat!

February 16, 2017 | 05:07 PM - Posted by Alamo

ryan doesn't pay you enough to get an HTC Vive ? xD, shame on him :p

February 16, 2017 | 07:00 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Hey now!

February 17, 2017 | 12:39 AM - Posted by Alamo

sorry for the bad joke :D
but kiddin aside, these smartphone VRs have a fatal flaw, and it was the one that he mentioned... heat! amongst other things.
VR great tech, out of reach price wise for most.
so far only sony can help move things around if they manage to sell enough PSVR to make it appealing for devs to risk investing heavily on it.

February 16, 2017 | 05:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

When I tried the daydream my first impression is this is a poor version of the Gear VR which itself is a step down from the VIVE. Google really should've teamed up with Samsung & Oculus on this one, it does not do VR justice.

And yes watching a movie in VR lying down looking at an IMAX sized screen is most enjoyable.

February 16, 2017 | 11:35 PM - Posted by Don Gateley (not verified)

Just a heads up that for a phone as large as the Axon 7 the Daydream Viewer does nasty things to the field of view, chromatic aberration, etc. I find that it works perfectly in my BOBOVR Z4 with all of its useful focus and IPD controls. It may be my imagination but I believe it takes better advantage of the quad def screen than does the little cloth viewer.

Any viewer for Cardboard should work fine for Daydream that well fits the phone but you must purchase the Daydream Viewer to obtain the control.

Spread the word.

February 17, 2017 | 07:50 AM - Posted by Tom Downes (not verified)

How did you avoid turning the phone off all the time? The headset door strap lines up perfectly with the power button, and turns the phone off when inserted..

February 17, 2017 | 08:45 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Someone, I'm not sure if it's ZTE or Google, disables the power button when the Daydream app is active and the phone detects the View's NFC chip.

That said, I tried a few Cardboard and WebVR applications and the strap does make it annoying. If you take the case off, you can slide the phone a bit to the right and make the power button slip between the two straps, though. But yeah, if you screw up a little, then you'll be staring at the reboot screen. Not ideal, unless Google integrates Chrome with the Daydream app a little more.

Again, the power button isn't an issue in Daydream, though. It's software-disabled.

February 17, 2017 | 09:46 PM - Posted by Tom Downes (not verified)

Great that's good to know.. I tested before daydream s/w update.. seemed like a massive oversight!

February 21, 2017 | 03:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

what happens if you use a nondaydream phone with that headset?

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