Virtual reality is getting a lot of press this year — are you ready to dive in and see what the buzz is all about? VR is an awesome way to immerse yourself in a movie or a game and there are many options for you to choose from, but some of them cost hundreds of dollars or more, if you don’t already have a super powerful PC. One of the low cost options is the Pocket VR case from Speck, which uses your iPhone to give you an affordable, portable VR viewer.
The Pocket VR system involves two separate items, the viewer itself and a Speck CandyShell Grip case to securely hold your phone in place. We have previously reviewed the CandyShell Grip, and found that it’s a great case and a good choice for VR because the last thing you want to do while immersing yourself in a virtual environment is to drop your phone.
Unlike many other VR viewers available, Pocket VR is designed to be carried with you. It is roughly the size of your iPhone when collapsed and it takes just seconds to open, insert your phone, and begin viewing. There are two small elastic cords that tension grip your phone securely. The design also allows for easy access to volume and power controls as well as the headphone jack.
There is a lot of content available to view. The free app from Jaunt provides dozens of videos on a wide variety of subjects, and we particularly enjoyed watching the animated shorts in VR. The headset is also compatible with videos made for Google Cardboard, so there is more than enough content available for you to enjoy. One important note is the need to pair the Pocket VR viewer with whichever app you use. In the Jaunt app you can do this very easily in the settings. From there simply let the app take a picture of the QR code on the inside of the viewer and it will be calibrated for the best viewing experience.
One of the downsides is not the fault of the Pocket VR viewer, but the relatively low resolution of the iPhone screen. Yes, these are Retina screens, but iPhones have always quietly had lower resolution displays than their premium Android counterparts, and it hurts when it comes to VR. Doesn’t make much difference usually, but when you look at the screen through the magnified lenses the screen appears a bit grainy. This was more pronounced on videos with a light or white background. Not a deal breaker, but worth noting.
VR video is best enjoyed standing or seated in a swiveling chair since you will want to rotate to see all the action. It’s pretty cool. But this also brings up another downside to the Pocket VR viewer. Your arms will quickly tire of holding the viewer up to your face. This is no doubt why most other VR viewers are actually headsets that strap onto your head, allowing you to immerse yourself with ease. That said, this is a portable viewer, meant to be slipped into your pocket and transported easily, so for occasional use or to share a cool video with your friends, this is a great solution.
VR is very cool and will likely become more and more a part of our entertainment in the future. While the Pocket VR is a lower priced option, it’s not the cheapest since it cannot be purchased without the CandyShell case and that’s a shame since many of us already have a suitable case and that certainly could have lowered the price significantly. Of course a cheaper option is Google Cardboard, but its made of cardboard and so this is definitely a sturdier option.