Daydream believer: why you should care about Google's latest VR headset

Google has announced it's bringing the next phase of mobile virtual reality to stores on November 10 with the launch of its Daydream View headset.

The headset will be stocked by Verizon and Best Buy in the US for $79; EE and Carphone Warehouse in the UK for £69; and Telstra and JB Hi-Fi in Australia for AU$109. 

A big step up from the Google Cardboard, the Daydream looks much less prone to accidental recycling incidents and promises to offer much more high quality experiences than its predecessor.

An affordable addition

Oh great, another VR headset, we hear you sigh. However, the Daydream View adds an affordable balance to a market that was slowly leaning towards more expensive options with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR.

Being lower cost, it’s more accessible than the Vive and Oculus Rift as these aren’t only expensive in themselves, but also require expensive PCs to run. 

However, Daydream isn’t necessarily more accessible than the PlayStation VR for anyone who already owns a PlayStation console, as the Daydream still requires an expensive mobile device to work. 

As an entry-level mobile-focussed headset priced at under £100, the most direct competitor for Daydream is the Samsung Gear VR

Mobile VR going head to head

As far as comfort goes, the Daydream certainly looks more comfortable than the Gear VR. When you compare it with the hard plastic of the Gear VR, the Daydream's soft materials appears to have been designed with more with its wearable function in mind. 

Another advantage the Daydream offers is that it comes with a dedicated external controller. The Gear VR only has  a directional pad on the side of the headset and though it does offer third-party controller support, the lack of a standard version means many VR experiences for the Gear VR don’t bother to include controller support as it’s difficult to configure so many. 

Both headsets are limited in terms of which phones you can use with them. At the moment the only phones that work with the Daydream are the new Pixel and Pixel XL, whilst the Gear VR headset is more accessible with the wider Galaxy range. 

However, Google promises that there are many Daydream compatible phones on the way from a variety of manufacturers such as Samsung, Alcatel, Asus, HTC, LG, Xiaomi. This is good news for anyone who would rather have not have their device choice limited by their VR accessory. 

As a mobile VR headset, the Daydream won’t be able to compete with the Vive, Oculus Rift, or PlayStation VR in terms of gaming experiences. 

It will, however, have its own section on the Google Play Store where you’ll be able to find a variety of games and experiences. Though Daydream’s software offering is fairly small at the moment, it will grow and Google plans to make its own apps compatible with the Daydream platform. It's including Play Movies, Photos, Maps and YouTube when the platform launches. 

Before now the mobile VR market was almost entirely dominated by the Gear VR but that’s changing with the launch of the Daydream view. With more choice comes more competition and improvements. Whether you’re looking to purchase a VR headset or not, it’s positive to see the headset market growing so quickly as it bodes well for the future of the platform.  

Google’s Daydream View headset and controller package is available to buy online now for $79 (£69, about AU$104) and will launch in stores on November 10. 

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Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.