The virtual reality market is booming, and the technology is moving beyond the infant stages to become far more advanced, at an increasingly rapid pace. As the high-end VR systems like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift pave the way for the technology, they open the door for others to follow. As anyone familiar with VR knows, if you want the best you are going to pay dearly for it. This innovative tech trickles down to companies like OPTO VR creating more affordable, portable VR mobile headsets for the masses who want to dip a toe in the virtual reality water. Hailing from London, they believe they have developed the most user-friendly portable VR headset.
As an industry, new advancements in technology are pushing VR to become even more immersive, with upgraded peripherals and capabilities like never before.
What makes OPTO VR different?
OPTO pegs their headset above the others in the class based on two main factors, the construction quality and built-in headphones. Both elements are designed to make a one-sized-fits-all headset to get newcomers to the VR space involved and excited about the technology.
The OPTO VR Air headset is constructed primarily of a lightweight closed cell foam. This has a soft, foam rubberized feel that is pretty light and can be cleaned or carted around easily. The headsets remind me of the Croc footwear build but a bit softer and more pliable, so that gives an idea of the material more or less.
The headset has a plastic front cover with magnets that hold it in place, so the phone being viewed is secured in the direct line of sight. For lenses, OPTO VR went with 44mm bi-convex lenses with 100° FOV for the Air, which OPTO claims are 25% larger than competitors’.
The integrated headphones are one OPTO is particularly proud of, in the theme of their “complete package” mentality. The headset has 40mm drivers, operating at 32ohm impedance to distribute the audio from the headphone jack connecting a mobile phone with a screen up to 5.5”.
The audio connectors from the front faceplate of the headset are three small pins, which make contact when the plate is fully connected. The headphones themselves are useful, but the sound isn’t as deep as one would get with a dedicated headphone from some of the main brands.
Opto VR Air in action
A large portion of the Wear VR content (pretty much a marketplace for VR apps) looked solid, like the Roller Coaster VR ride, Insidious 3, and a few others that I ran through. I would expect that the Wear VR content would be properly adapted to the OPTO VR headset, since they work together to optimize the hardware. The overall experience is good for those who are new to VR, who would be interested in viewing content but might not be interested in gaming per say.
Buy OPTO VR Air headset – $79
Certain apps however (Google Cardboard, YouTube 360°, Fulldive), came across blurry on my Galaxy S7, and many of the 360° videos came out very blurry. In all it seemed like the computer generated apps came through more clearly than the actual video, however dependent on the phone and app experiences may vary. An interesting note was that some of the content mentioned above was much more clear on a coworker’s S7 Edge, which has only a slightly larger screen to view. One of the potential reasons for this variation could be the lack of interpupilary distance (IPD) adjustment, so people with different sized heads, spacing between the eyes, or viewing screens cannot calibrate the hardware.
There are no buttons on the VR headset, so accessing apps and videos with visual navigation is key to avoid removing the unit to select options. There are plenty of these out there, and from what I have seen these apps generally have more depth to them as well.
The headset is comfortable to wear, and the lightweight construction does indeed make the effect on neck and head hardly noticeable. OPTO VR has something in their Air they think stands apart from the market, and it is indeed a crowded one. It will be interesting to see how they continue to evolve the product to stay ahead of the competition.
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OPTO VR Air headset with headphones- $79