So there we were testing out this new VR headset when of course the app (Netflix VR) wouldn’t work with any of the controllers we had on site. It was a finicky app that you sometimes run into that will only work with a Google Daydream compatible remote. Of course, we have none of these on hand. There are moments where we would toss it to the side and move on, but none of us had apparently tried Netflix VR, thus it became a mission and ordered a remote asap.
What we ended up with was the controller by a company called Virtoba that offers a variety of VR products, available online-only from a few places like Amazon. It was a simple $20 remote that looked like it had high potential for getting the job done. It came in a small white package with a small lanyard, USB cable for charging it with and small instructional. Simple packaging for a simple product.
It connected quite quickly to the phone (Android-only device as it does not support iOS) we were using in the headset by the typical holding down of the home button when asked. Once it was connected, we jumped right into Netflix VR with it to find out that even with the best phones on site (ie, iPhone 8, Samsung S8+, etc), Netflix isn’t worth it. It was a fun experience but kills the eyes to sit through a whole episode of movie staring at a phone’s resolution/screen. Of course that isn’t what we are covering today. We are looking at the remote and how well it functions.
This is something it did quite well. The accuracy of the remote is spot on and allowed us to run through all of the apps similar to Netflix VR. It also does great for games that ask for a motion device such as it. For other games we do have full Bluetooth remotes that looks like familiar products like something from Xbox or Playstation, but none of them offer motion, which really adds to the experience.
Design-wise, the remote is all plastic coated with a rubberized layer to help keep the remote in your hand with. The lanyard attaches to the bottom in case you prefer not to get too excited and throw the remote across the room (which takes us back to the “Wii have a problem” days). The bottom of the remote is also where the USB connection is to charge it–which is, get this, USB Type-C. It’s about time we started seeing smaller non-phone/tablet/laptop devices make use of the latest in USB.
It has the typical set of buttons/features. The top circle is a touchpad that allows you to slide your thumb around on, and also functions as a selection/ok button when you press it down. There are two small buttons under it, starting with the “App” button and then the “Home” button underneath that. On the right side of the remote is a up/down toggle button which is used for controlling your volume with so you don’t have to dig your phone out each time to adjust this.
The battery life of the remote seems to be basic, although they promise “not less than” 12 hours of use with 60 days of standby. We didn’t see 12 hours of use, but you won’t find yourself using a VR headset long enough for it to matter (unless you want to be rolling around the floor with motion sickness and bad eyesight).
A simple story for a simple device. It works well with motion and control for any game or app that supports a Daydream compatible motion controller. The motion is spot on for the most part and all of the buttons do exactly what they are supposed to. The remote is priced at only $19.99 and it does feel like a $14.99-$19.99 item, thus it seems to be priced perfectly. It only works with Android devices, so you are out if you have a iOS or Windows device.
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
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