VR is the hot topic of 2015, but it’s starting to look like enjoying it to the fullest extent available may require the sale of a kidney or your own mother. While it can be argued that this is a fair trade (sorry mum) not everyone has the time or money to invest in enough sci fi ARG gear to official swear off reality. This is where the Immerse VR comes in, a smartphone based headset that does a fairly competent job of imitation, if you can get over the fact that you just strapped a phone to your face.
The headset itself is very simple, essentially a mostly hollow container with lenses, which works very similarly to Google’s DIY cardboard build. At only £29.99, you can’t exactly expect dedicated headtracking hardware or anything more complicated, so expectations have to kept in check. However, the Immerse VR does contain a nifty gyroscope and accelerometer which helps to keep things stable.
Setup is simple, just whip your phone into the casing, adjust the grips, focus the lenses and download a VR app. The headset is versatile and will support most current phone sizes, although you’ll be out of luck with anything larger than 3.5 X 5.7 inches. My slightly run down and disheveled Iphone 4 fit well into the build without much issue, but there was some noticeable temperature increases during testing. I realised this when the rain effects during a session was a bit too real….and salty. That could be a potential problem, as most phones have a tendency to overheat when handling complex, resource heavy software.
Finding apps was the first problem, there isn’t a great selection of high quality experiences on the market currently. It’s hard to lose yourself in a world when everyone looks like a burn victim in Minecraft. But that is an issue that will resolve itself, as the standards will likely adapt to new tech over time and improve.
In terms of the build quality, it could certainly stand to have a few improvements, as currently a person as clumsy as myself will reduce the kit into an economical series of plastic shards. The lenses are functional, but aren’t of any particularly high standards. Images were blurred enough that it can distract from the fun, but not badly enough to ruin it.
The next issue is that anything more than an entirely visual experience that requires little to no user input will need a gamepad, which means that some planning and preparation is required. Slotting headphones into the cradle can be like threading a needle, with lots of irrational swearing and teeth gritting, but once ready it can prove a sufficiently vertigo inducing time.
The most enjoyable use for the Immerse VR was for 3D videos, as sitting back and settling into a pant soiling series of impressive feature really make you look forward to what the future will bring.
And that’s the biggest problem with the Immerse VR. It knows exactly what it is, never claiming to be more than a cheap alternative to the pricier options on the market. But as it doesn’t provide anything truly remarkable it simply makes the desire for an Oculus that much more unbearable. Highly recommended for those without a want for anything more substantial, but not worth the excitement for impatient tech fanatics awaiting the next generation of virtual reality.