It looks like VR is still trying to break through, especially now that the Oculus Rift is starting to emerge into the daylight for real. Almost. The idea of these budget products is to insert your smartphone, and use any specially created app or game to enjoy ‘immersive’, virtual reality views by turning your head and such. The question is, are they improving at all? The answer is a qualified yes.
This Shinecon VR Glasses product is a case in point. It retails at a shade under $35, and can hold smartphones up to 6 inches or so in screen size. There’s not much to the device, it’s basically all about the optics, and whether your stomach can cope with the flicker from your phone as you turn your head this way and that. Take a look at our video below to get an idea of how they work.
The glasses come in a very slick looking black box, containing the product itself and a small selection of user information. To be honest, there’s not much you need to know. Just insert smartphone in front, fire up your VR app or game of choice (just do a search for VR or Google Cardboard on the stores) and off you go.
There are a couple of adjustments you can make, which makes this product stand out from cheaper earlier versions. First you can adjust focus a little, and secondly, you have the ability to tweak interpupilliary distance (IPD), which is the width between your eyes. This helps to improve the viewing experience and avoid some of the queasy stuff. We also like the fact that there are large ventilation holes on either side of the removable cover, which keep the phone cool and let you attach a charge cable, or a headphone cable for more personal audio.
We’re going to be brutally frank here and suggest that if you are one of those who gets vertigo easily, this may not be the product you’re looking for. Even for those with a stronger disposition, it can be quite disconcerting after a while, and in fact the instructions recommend that you don’t play for too long. It’s nothing to do with the product itself and more with the technology. All VR products – even the Oculus – have to fight against this issue. Our heads are just not used to this kind of viewpoint.
But if you can get over that initial experience, it’s pretty cool to be able to see 3D depth video in such glorious close-up vision. Swing your head this way and that to look around, or just take in the scenery. For some reason the main game type apps consist of roller-coasters (scary swoops) and space walks, but there are a ton of other interesting VR apps out there if you look hard enough.
The Shinecon VR Glasses (aka Elegant) are definitely an improvement on previous incarnations of this type of product. They’re very comfortable, with soft plush eye guards and a puffy head-band, which really makes a big difference when you’re wearing something this large. The phone clip seems sturdy, if a little fiddly, but it holds well, and the tweaks you can make to the optics really improve the viewing experience significantly (especially if you have eyesight issues).
In fact, for the price, this is one of the best of this type we’ve seen so far. But that said, be warned that you should still be careful about using any of these products if you’re not used to them. They can be more than a little disconcerting over extended periods.