Virtual reality headsets like the much talked about Oculus Rift are the next big thing in immersive entertainment and education. Feeling like you’re really part of a game, “traveling” to new destinations without leaving your home and learning new skills from your couch are quickly becoming a reality. Just a few weeks ago, I read an article about doctors who used Google Cardboard to help save a baby’s life by practicing a delicate surgery using the cheap do-it-yourself VR headset. There are several very inexpensive Google Cardboard compatible viewers that are priced at less than $25, but the VR Shinecon Virtual Reality Glasses that I want to show you today provide a superior look and feel for only $10 more. But are they worth the extra money? Let’s take a look.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
The first thing you should know before you consider buying one of these inexpensive VR headsets is that you will need an Android or iOS smartphone to use them.
It was obvious when I opened the package with the VR Shinecon headset, that they were a big step above the Reagan Arts Virtual Reality headset that I had tried last year. Instead of a DIY folding viewer made of cardboard, the VR Shinecon is a plastic headset with pleather covered padding, and an adjustable head strap.
The front of the headset has a detatchable magnetic cover that can be removed if the 3D app needs to use your smartphone’s camera.
The whole front cover of the headset flips down to reveal the smartphone holder.
On both sides of the headset are knobs that extend the front section of the headset to aid in image focusing. In the image above, you can see that the front of the headset is completely extended. Normally the silver colored section is flush with the main body of the headset.
In the top center of the headset is the pupil distance adjustment knob.
Rotating the knob will change the distance of the headset’s lenses. In the image above, the lenses are close together.
Turning the pupil distance knobs widens the distance between the lenses.
To use the VR Shinecon headset, you’ll need a smartphone. I tested the headset with my Nexus 6P.
The 6P just barely fit in the holder which has spring loaded arms that spread open to grip the phone. The headset can be used with phones that have displays that are 4.7 – 6 inches.
The headset came with no instructions except for two QR codes. The first one I scanned took me to the VR Shinecon website which does not have an English version, and the second QR code wanted me to install an APK app on my phone. I was hesitant to do so, so I headed over to the Google Play store and downloaded the Google Cardboard app which provides links to 3D apps and built in 3D demos.
With my phone in the holder, the app installed and running, I was ready to start using the headset. Unfortunately I ran into a big problem when I tried to place the headset over my existing glasses. The frames of my glasses were too wide to fit between the padding of the viewer without using force, which I didn’t want to do for fear of breaking my frames. I was surprised that they wouldn’t fit since my frames are less than 5.25 inches wide from temple to temple.
With my glasses removed, the headset fit perfectly, but since my vision is not good, the image in the viewer was not clear, causing the experience to be disappointing.
Most of the demos included with the Google Cardboard app have cartoon graphics instead of real graphics. The apps use the gyroscope in your phone to move what’s on the display as you move your head up, down, left and right,
There are demos that let you walk around gardens.
And take guided tours through famous landmarks
In addition to not being able to see the screen very well without my glasses, I quickly realized that the VR Shinecon headset lacks a very important feature – the ability to tap the screen. With the Google Cardboard viewers, there’s a “button” that can be used to interact with the apps. There isn’t such a button with the VR Shinecon. I contacted Elegiant who sent me the review sample and they told me that you can use a Bluetooth gaming controller like the one they sell for less than $7. Since I didn’t have such a controller, it made testing the headset a little less fun than it could have been.
Are the VR Shinecon Virtual Reality Glasses better than the DIY Google Cardboard viewers? Yes, most definitely. They are comfortable (if you don’t wear glasses or have frames that are not more than 5 inches wide. The head strap lets you wear the headset without having to constantly hold it up to your face like the cheaper cardboard viewers. The only things missing from the VR Shinecon are better English instructions, a Bluetooth controller and guidance on where to find apps and 3D movies that you can use with this headset.
I have just reviewed another VR headset that is less expensive and fits better than the VR Shinecon. It’s the HooToo VR headset and it wins my favorite inexpensive virtual reality headset award. This new one fits over my glasses, which makes it a winner.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Elegiant. Please visit their site for more info and Amazon to order a pair. You can use the code 3TQTEZP7 at check out to get $5 off (this code expires on 12/31/16).