Mattel has made the first viewer of Virtual Reality with a Google collaboration. The first VR headset for kids is called View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer. Just like other mobile VR headsets, the viewer needs a smartphone inserted in the viewer and used it as a display. It is made for kids rather than adults, or safety rather than immersive experiences.
According to Mattel, the age range is seven years and up. The viewer is kid-friendly. You can tell that from its design. First of all, the viewer doesn’t come with a head strap. It doesn’t even have loops or holes to put it through. So, you always need to hold the viewer with your hands. You will get tired soon. But meanwhile, you don’t have to worry as much about your kids soaked in hours of VR contents. Instead of a head strap, it has a wrist strap.
Smartphones with 5 to 6-inch display fit the viewer. And an adapter is included for smaller phones, such as iPhone 5/5c/5s. Thanks to spring-loaded holders attached to a simple design of the front cover, It’s easy to insert and remove your smartphone. However, a latch to lock the front cover snaps lightly. Depending on the thickness of a smartphone or phone case, it may pop open. And there are no holes for an audio jack or power cable except for a few slits letting the sound come out.
The Starter Pack includes a Preview Reel. When you launch View-Master app and look at the reel through smartphone’s camera, you will see the 3D image pop up on the reel. It’s called Augmented Reality. Three apps support a preview reel; Wildlife, Space, and Destinations. You can see three different 3D images on each app. If you want more AR experiences, you need to buy a View-Master Experience Pack. Each pack has three reels and one pass card to unlock a full feature of the app. Although they have small games, they are for learning rather than gaming. But you can also enjoy all Google Cardboard apps and games.
The viewer has a trigger button. It works the same as a magnet of Cardboard headset. The viewer’s trigger button is entirely mechanical. When you press down the trigger, a rubber-tip end taps a display of the smartphone.
A part that you put your face against is made of rubber. It’s relatively comfortable. But it’s not that important for a VR viewer without a head strap because nothing tightens and presses against your face. You can adjust a comfortability by your hands. And this part is very narrow. Some people with eyeglasses may have a problem.
There is no focus wheel. If an image blurs, make sure a smartphone is aligned. Sometimes, it makes it clear to move a smartphone a little off to left or right. If you use Cardboard apps, don’t forget to scan QR code located inside of the viewer. If it still blurs, there is no other choice but either pushing the view against your face or move it away from your face.
- A trigger button
- No focus wheel
- No head strap
- No holes for audio or charging cable
- The part to put against your face is narrow
- Latch to close the door with smartphone holder isn’t secure
View-Master VR Viewer is good for kids, seven years and up. Some inferior designs, including no head strap, no holes for headphones are probably intended by the manufacturer considering kids’ safety rather than impressiveness. No focus wheel and the insecure latch are disappointments. The including preview reel for AR is interesting. To be honest, it isn’t much fun. But, It gave me a feeling of a great possibility in the future. Overall, the viewer is a great item. Parents can buy it with confidence for their kids.
See also: View-Master Deluxe VR Viewer Review