The DSCVR Headset is a collapsable, plastic VR headset by I Am Cardboard, which originally launched in October 2015 via Kickstarter. I recently received my device and thought I would do a full review.
What initially sparked my interest in the DSCVR headset was the fact that I wanted a more durable replacement for my current cardboard viewer, which was getting pretty banged up in transport. I take my cardboard everywhere, and as a result, the velcro rips off, the material starts to tear and taking a stapled, duct taped device to client meetings (which is supposed to represent the technology of the future) was getting a bit embarrassing. I wanted something more portable and roadworthy which could replace my existing device. Something with a carrying case would be a bonus.
The DSCVR headset looked to be a promising solution, so I eagerly backed the campaign. Now that I have had a chance to kick the tires for a few weeks, I have good and bad things to say about it.
- As promised, the device is made out of durable plastic and comes in multiple colors. I chose black
- It feels solid, it is collapsable with a spring loaded release and comes with a cleaning cloth and a carrying case for easy transport.
- The selector button is sturdy and the button’s rubber contact makes a good connection with the phone screen.
- The rubber strap holds your mobile phone pretty snuggly and the magnetic clasp clips firmly.
Overall, it does the job that it was designed to do and if you have never tried a mobile VR headset before, then this one will do just fine.
Unfortunately, there are a number of pretty serious usability problems with the device’s design, which basically makes it unusable for me.
- The collapsable channels which are located on either side of the viewer do not allow enough room for my glasses to fit inside. When I push it up to my face, my glasses make contact on both sides and push the faceplate in. The faceplate is spring loaded and opens when the button release is pressed. Unfortunately, it does not lock in the open position, so it pushes in constantly when viewing, making a squeaky spring noise and makes it very difficult to find a comfortable position. Since my glasses make contact on both sides, the eye piece pushes in even further than it would for someone not wearing glasses.
- The lenses seem really blurry in comparison to my other Cardboard devices and have a pretty strong fish eye effect. I tried using the device with and without glasses and I tried adjusting the settings via the Google Cardboard QR code for both the DSCVR and for another device, but regardless of the settings, the lenses made it difficult to look through.
- The rubber strap that holds the mobile phone, while very tight and secure, is very difficult to unclip with a phone locked in place. The clip is hard to grab and each time I unclip it, my phone flies out, almost causing me to drop it on a number of occasions.
- The inside of the headpiece around the lenses is white plastic, which creates a distracting white glow around your eyes when trying to use the device. In my opinion, all headsets should be black inside to limit the amount of unnecessary light reflection. This is a minor complaint but it adds to the overall unpleasant experience.
- In general, I found the the device to be somewhat uncomfortable. The plastic is hard and not as easy on the face as a softer cardboard variation. Some foam padding might be a nice addition to ease the comfort factor.
In summary, I have to say that, while I was really excited about the DSCVR headset, there were too many negatives. I was lucky to get in on the Kickstarter price of $15.99, but as for the current price of $29.99, knowing what I know now, I would definitely not purchase the existing model.
In the meantime, I really like my old, reliable Cardboard V2.0, “cardboard” viewer by I am Cardboard (i’ve gone through 3 of them so far…) and will probably continue to use it for the time being. I hope that they make some improvements on this design and if so, I’ll look forward to trying out the next version, should they ever design one. I hope they do.
Sean Earley is the podcast host and Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine, Modern Musician Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development, PR and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.