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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Mobile VR

For the last few weeks, possibly months now I've wanted two things; a drone and a VR headset. I get this occasionally. Where I really really want something and I try to put it off. I keep putting it off till the urge goes. Sometimes its weeks, sometimes its months. This may sound sad, and it is. But I would so be homeless if I brought half the stuff I want in this way.

I am also trying to talk myself out of buying those cool vinyl pop figures too, but lets no talk about more things I want (update, I now have pop vinyl figures hahaha).

I recently saw a news article that said there will be a new law coming into place around drones. Stating that anyone with one and wishing to fly above a certain hight (likely to not be very high, I'd guess 20 feet) will have to register their details somewhere. This will of course cost money to do.

That news coupled with the current flight times of 5 to 20 minutes on one battery have really put me off. I had got around the battery flight time, until I saw how much spare batteries are. Woosh!

I started to look at VR a bit more, again here I found the down sides. Like needing a computer to power the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive big players. They do look amazing but...

You need a good gaming pc, for the experience I want I would also need handheld controllers. The expense mounts up, and at £350 - £500 starting price thats just not acceptable to me.

I even looked at the Playstation VR option. But that would be £250 - £350, excluding the fact I don't have a Playstation!

My Xbox One, the worst console I've ever had. Doesn't support VR or have a VR option at the moment. Heck there was more Kinect buy in on the 360 than there is on the One. Its a step back in that regard.

This led me to looking at other options and so to VR on my iPhone. Amazon will show you products that look 90% the same completing the same function from £7 - £60. That said most of the ones I found were around £10 on sale from £30 - £50. So I would, and did, go for a sale one. I expect they will usually be on sale and the selling price is likely from when they first sold.

My exceptions were lower, I know my phone doesn't have pc gaming power and I'm paying £10 not £350. But I was still hopeful. I even got a controller for £7 hoping this would help enrich the experience and help to transport me into a VR game experience.

The delivery was quick, I had it in just under 48 hours. The product looks nice, its not premium looking or feeling, but its ok. It doesn't feel cheap. Its easy to use and set up, basically just sliding your phone in the compartment. I downloaded a couple of games and got playing.

Lets just say I felt like I was very much in the beta experiment stage. The graphics are awful. Lets just get that out there. Ive seen videos online with reviewers saying its good / ok. Errmmm nope!

This is a iPhone 7, it should be able to do better and hopefully these games will soon be upscaled or other (better) games are released.

The fit over my head is good. My top knot is a problem, so hair down or to the side is best based on where the straps are.

I tried a couple of shooting games first. The controller doesn't work with these games as all you can do is look to move or aim. I did get stuck at one stage for 5 minutes trying to work out how to turn around and not keep walking into the wall. It brought back bad memories of getting stuck in the training level of a Tomb Rader game when I was young, haha. The games were ok, but super simple with no real options other than look.

Next up I tried a soccer / football game. This was better, possibly with the not moving (its just free kicks and penalties) its easier to code / design? Looking around the stadium is cool, but again you basically have 3-4 seconds to look where to kick then it kicks automatically. So when I was looking around the stadium the ball was getting kicked all over the place because I just wanted to look.

The rollercoaster simulation wasn't great. I think because at this stage I realised I could see out the bottom (by my nose) if I looked down. Also the view /display doesn't go all the way to the sides, so you can see black. This kind of prevents the whole point of VR and being immersed into a VR world.

However, the last game I played was VR Noir. This game has already won awards for showing what VR can do. Its like a film with options for you to act on, like looking around an office to find out about your character. Then asking questions in an interview, followed by looking through binoculars to find someone and collecting evidence for DNA in a hotel room.

The graphics are so much better, the options show the possibilities for the future. Its a very short game, it talks maybe 25 minutes to complete. But its worth giving this a go.

All of these apps are free at the time of writing and I'll be trying more soon. For now...

Open Mike

VR on the iPhone is a ok cheap option if you want to try VR and can't afford or don't want to pay £300 plus. But be aware that this is nothing like as good as those products or experiences. Currently the graphics in 99% of games are awful, the gameplay is extremely limited and will not hold your attention for long. I would also say don't get a controller, you don't need it. None of the games I tried even aloud me to use the one I have. Don't spend more than £15, the headset is just getting the phone close to your head and holding it in place. All the tech stuff is in your phone.

Have you tried VR? What about mobile VR? What are you're thoughts?

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