Merge VR Goggles and the Merge Cube Review

Today we’ll review a pair of Virtual Reality(VR) googles from Merge.

By now, everyone knows what VR goggles are, right? This particular pair are a nice alternative to a more pricier pair like Samsung Gear. These goggles might not have as many bells and whistles, but if you’re looking to save some money, and maybe get a step up from your Cardboard VR Glasses, then let’s talk about the details.

The Merge goggles are compatible with most phones. There is a cushion that holds your phone in place. Phones that are in the 123mm to 158mm range will work, and you can use Android or iOS phones as well.

The casing is soft and flexible. These goggles are great for kids because they are lightweight and durable, and will protect your phone if the goggles get dropped. They also are easy to wipe clean as well.

The adjustable headstrap make these goggles easier to wear than a regular pair of Cardboard glasses. It’s nice not to have to hold them up to your face, and your hands are free to use the left and right input buttons on the top.

There are fun apps for kids you can download off the app store. Many free ones.  We found some to work with the Merge Cube that we were also sent to review.

 

The Merge Cube is a 2.75 in. black and silver foam cube that can be turned into its own little VR device to go along with the headset, or you can use it without a headset. Not as cool, but still decent.

One thing we would say if you get this is to remember to keep the box. The box is reusable as a phone stand and stand for the Merge Cube. It also has an activation code in it. Yeah, I think we got rid of the packaging. We were still able to use it. Parents will need to set up an account for their kids.

One fun game we found was a little like Minecraft where you can build a 3D world on your Cube. It’s called Dig, and this video gives you an idea of what it looks like.

So, on the Merge website, you can buy the VR goggles for $49.99. I’ve seen them much cheaper at Wal-Mart and other places. The website offers them in many different colors, though. The Merge Cube is listed at $14.99 on their website, but they are going for $1 at our local Wal-Mart. I guess they aren’t very popular, and here’s a picture in case you don’t believe us.

Dang. Anyway, our verdict- a fun set of VR items for beginners.

Merge sent us these items for free to review in exchange for our fair and unbiased opinion.

Our Review of Quantum Storey’s Operation YOU: Morning Nightmare, the “World’s First VR Book Series”

Okay, if you have been to Wal-Mart’s book section, you might notice this particular book/package. This would be a book/VR program from publisher Quantum Storey known as Operation YOU: Morning Nightmare. It is apparently the first VR (Virtual Reality, but you probably already knew that) book series, and it is only available from Wal-Mart.

I’m going to say that their claim is correct, and this book comes with a pair of fold up VR googles so you can connect it to your smartphone. Yes, there is an app that you use for this, and I am very pleased to say that it was very simple to set up.

Personally, I used my own pair of VR goggles with the Powis ViewR 2.0, and I found that this program allows me to step into another world. This is something that I really can’t describe, but hey, this is the lure of VR.

Unfortunately, I am going to say that I wasn’t too impressed by the experience. Now, in case you think I am going to give this a bad review, I’m not. This would be like me reviewing Veggie Tales and saying that it is terrible because it is too juvenile.

Yes, I, a middle-aged man, am not the audience designed for this. This book has the big print of a Dr. Seuss book, and even is told with rhyme.

What is interesting is that while the virtual program was running, it was reading the words in the book. So in all honesty, the book portion of this…program is rather superfluous. Seriously, the program reads the book to me.

Another thing that is not interesting is the book’s subject matter. The title of Morning Nightmare refers to the main character’s experience on a bus, and dealing with bullies.

Yes, this is an anti-bullying story. In fact, I will spoil it and say that the book explains how to deal with bullying. For those that remember the 1980’s, there were constant after-school specials and books that had an anti-drug preaching slant to them. These days, the youth of today are constantly told not bully, as my 15-year-old daughter will attest to from the numerous pep assemblies that she has been to.

I will have to say that the bullies of this book are creepy. One of them has a pet snake that will attack you, or something? Trust me when I say that you do not want to be trapped in a virtual world with them. Heck, I would rather be a powerless Neo with an Agent Smith than be stuck with these bullies.

Fortunately, this virtual program allows you to do certain actions over again should the bullies overtake you. By the way, these bullies took me out at least twice. When this happens, you end up being with this lady named Ray, or I will assume is a lady. It doesn’t matter, but my point is that this book feels like it is trying to be one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books.

However, I love the interface of this book, and how I could just look at something in order to interact with it. It ends with me playing frisbee with a dog, but it wasn’t as active as actually tossing the plastic WHAM-O discus with a hyperactive Labrador.

Geez, this sounds negative. I’m going to let you know that I believe that the technology for a VR series is there. The idea of a book that you can walk into is great, but I’m guessing that the programming of that is very complex. Morning Nightmare, the first book in this series, is really more of a proof of concept that this VR series works.

What I want to see is a more developed story that would be much longer. Perhaps the book and story could work together and not just have the program read to you. The issue is that this tech is still in its infancy, kind of like watching those old computer generated videos from the late eighties and early nineties, and then Toy Story changed everything.

I have a message for Quantum Storey. I’m going to come up with a way that this can really work, so you’ll be hearing from me soon.

In the meantime, you can purchase Operation You: Morning Nightmare on the Wal-Mart site for $17.49.

Oh, there is more! Operation You has three books known as The New Kid, The Kings Birds, and A Soldier’s Son. I have no idea what they are about, or even if the same characters will appear.

Add to your VR Gaming Experience with the 3dRudder

A CES 2016 Innovation Awards winner, this technology- the 3dRudder, will bring a new level to virtual reality gaming. TechnoMark first tested this out at CES 2016, and 3dRudder was good enough to send us one to review for a fair and unbiased review.

The black and red platform itself is very nicely put together- very good quality. There is ample room for most feet- unless you are one of those basketball players who have to special order their shoes. It weighs close to 4 lbs, but is still easy to store and carry. The box it comes in has a handle, so you could take it to a friend’s house to game.

Setup is pretty simple and straight-forward. Once the  Dashboard is downloaded and installed, you simply follow the straightforward instructions given on the screen to get started.

Airboard Arena is the demo that comes programmed into the Dashboard. The demo teaches you how to move using the 3dRudder. You can move forward, backward, side to side. A twisting motion will allow you to turn yourself around, and then there’s a stepping motion you perform that will allow you to elevate.

There are some other cool features the the 3dRudder can perform- like acting as a mouse for your computer. In fact, I think this product would be great for people with limited use of their hands or people with no hands.

Okay, this is TechnoMark, and I’ll take over from here. I tried it out for the HTC Vive, and it is really an interesting experience. I don’t know if you can even tell what the 3DRudder does from just looking at this, but it enables freedom of movement in VR games.

Yes, you know how you can move your head around on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation 4, and more? Well, movement of your feet is now possible as you lean forward on this disc to move forward, and then left and right for those motions. There are some intricacies in the movement, but this varies per game.

In all honesty, this could easily become the standard for those who wish to play VR while sitting, but what if I want to stand up? Perhaps there is some device that hasn’t been invented for that.

Since I’m not a super VR junkie, I thought I might link to another blogger who wrote in great detail about issues he had with the Oculus Rift. Skarredghost did an excellent hands-on review. He mentioned that the 3dRudder slides some on hardwood floors. It seems to work best on carpet.

If the 3dRudder sounds good to you, you can buy it for about $140 on the 3dRudder site, or $130 on Amazon.com.

Whoosh3D WhooshVR Cardboard

whoosh-3d-vr-viewerI really did a review of the Whoosh3D screen protector and maker of 3D on smartphones and tablets. Today, I am going to do a report on a VR viewer from Whoosh 3D.

Just to let you know, most of the time when I write about a product, even one that I am reviewing, I usually take what I see from the main site and put it in my own words. This time, I didn’t really have anything from the Whoosh main site, which is odd, to say the least.

I had a chance to try this out, and it is a VR viewer that has double clickers. In all honesty, I am not certain why anyone would need duel clickers, because of the VR programs that I tried, I couldn’t find one that practically used both of these.

Still, everyone needs to have one of these VR viewers, don’t they? You might as well have one with two clickers, because this could easily be a standard.

I was able to find it on Argomall, and the price is ₱999.00, and I have no idea what that translates.

“Ghost in the Shell” VR Film

ghost-in-the-shell-virtual-reality-diver-edI feel odd explaining what Ghost in the Shell is, but if you have never heard of anime (and there are a lot of people that haven’t) then you have never heard of Ghost in the Shell.

Ghost in the Shell is…a film that has a lot of…female frontal nudity and violence. It’s one of those dystopian style science fiction movies, and it means…something. I think it does. It’s kind of like Blade Runner or the Matrix, as it feels like just a science fiction film, but there is some deep, deep philosophy in it.

Yeah, I remember watching it, but I don’t remember getting anything out of it. Perhaps I should watch it again. I bring it up because if you are trying to bring VR into storytelling, I suppose the dystopian setting works for some 360 sights, maybe.

So, if you have one of those VR Viewers, wouldn’t it be great to view Ghost in the shell: Virtual Reality Driver on your phone? Nope! My Source says it will only be shown in 31 Internet cafes across the Kanto region in Tokyo.

Granted, the film is only 15 minutes long, but come on! If VR films are going to catch on, users are going to need access to serious VR content.

Source

Virtual Reality Comes to Roller Coasters

VR Roller CoasterIt looks like Virtual Reality is going to sweep the nation with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and some more Google Cardboard stuff. It could really take our society by storm, and most say it will affect a lot of entertainment.

It would appear that it affects amusement parks, and not just games. There are two places that have them, but I’m sure they are not the only or the last ones.

The first is at Magic Mountain, with New Revolution, which is a traditional roller coaster, but the riders wear a Samsung Gear VR headset. The advantage is that the VR gives an interesting CG kind of world which you really feel. This will be in Six Flags parks across the nation, starting April 21.

The second is Alton Towers’ Galactica, and I am assuming that it might have something to do with Battlestar, maybe. It is a flight from a space station through an asteroid belt to the canyons of an alien world.

Now, with the second example, it reminds me of a ride that I went on that used computer animation and hydraulics to create a cool effect. Having the graphics on your head makes it a better version of Star Tours.

With the first example, I can’t help but wonder if this is taking away the roller coaster experience. After all, I like the idea of visiting some virtual world, but with a roller coaster, I want to be outdoors. Yes, this is another example of how technology keeps us indoors.

Source 1 and Source 2

Yezz Sfera is a VR smartphone/camera

yezz-sfera-smartphoneWell, it is great to see that VR is happening, and now that PlayStation has it and there are others coming out, there might as well be a way to get some video footage for it. I mean, you could get one of those cameras like the V.360, or you can just get a Yezz Sfera smartphone.

This Sfera has two spherical cameras to record 360-degree videos. If you want to share them, then you will need to get yourself one of those VR viewers like the Powis ViewR and Google Cardboard. It has 5 Megapixel cameras with a fish eye lens on both sides of the phone. By the way, the phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, has a 5.5 inch screen, 3 GB of RAM, and 3,000 mAh battery.

Then there is this Finger-Pick allows the user to finger-navigate in any direction of the scene that it can record. Then there is a full-frame to show the entire 360-degree landscape on one window. Then there is a button to upload to YouTube.

I actually had a chance to try this out at CES 2016. Yes, that was three months ago, and the reason why I’ve got around to talking about it now is because…yeah, I’ve been a little behind when it comes to posting about stuff.

The Sfera is available for pre-order at $299.99 and should ship on April 30th.

Source

New PlayStation VR Information Revealed

PlayStation VRSo, right now, the Game Developers Conference is going on, and Sony decided to use the event to announce what PlayStation fans want to hear: the release date and price of the PlayStation VR.

So, let’s get with the price, as it is $399. This will include an HDMI cable, a USB cable, a pair of stereo heapdhones, an add-on processor box, AC power cord, AC power brick, and the VR headset itself. What is not included, and everyone is talking about, is a $60 PlayStation Camera that is required.

The PlayStation VR will be out by October, and there will be 50 games available for it that day. This includes Rigs: Mechanized Combat League, Assassin’s Creed tie-in Eagle Fight, EVE: Valkyrie, Rez Infinite, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood.

In addition to all these games, Sony says that there will be a mode dedicated to movies and videos. It will allow video content to be seen on what will be a 225-inch virtual screen. It is also good for viewing 360 degree photos and video.

So it looks like in addition to Oculus and HTC Vive, the PlayStation VR could be some kind of first foray into VR.

Source

Coachella Music Festival Features a VR Headset

coachella-640x275For those that aren’t aware of an event known as Coachella, it is an annual music festival that brings together performances by some big names as well as some relatively new artists. It runs from April 15-17 and 22-24, and the welcome box has a VR headset.

Clearly, this is something new, and it has an application to go with it for pictures and interviews from last year’s festival in virtual reality. Not only that, this application will be updated continually with new content until the actual performance.

So, it looks like it is possible to live stream Coachella performances, which means that audiences will not just be in the crowd. I can’t help but wonder if this will be applied at other concert events, but I’m kind of out of that loop and don’t know any off the top of my head.

Source

Powis ViewR 2.0, Lampr VR, and the future of Virtual Reality

Powis ViewrI saw this product at CES 2016, and it took a while for them to get me a review unit, but now that I have it, I and everyone else is going to see more of these in the near and possibly far future.

If you haven’t figured out what this is yet, it is a virtual reality holder for your smartphone. Perhaps you have heard of Google Cardboard, as it is essentially a cheap way to view some virtual reality action on an ordinary smartphone.

This particular ViewR 2.0 from Powis is definitely not cardboard, and you can customize it with this very awesome logo. I’ve been thinking about re-branding, but I don’t know, I’m liking the light blue and the font.

But let’s talk about the product itself. How this works is that you put your smartphone on the viewer and then use the velcro strap to keep it in place. This might take a little bit of work to make certain that it fits right, and then you can run some VR programs. By the way, you might have an issue with the button, as it is made to touch the screen when needed, so yes, it might need adjustment again.

PowisSo what do VR programs look like? Well, they split the screen in two, then they you look through the viewer you see 3D like an old-school View Master. I used it to play Lampr VR. If you aren’t familiar with that game, just download it on iOS or Android. It is a game where you are moving through a maze of plants playing a bug that is collecting some shiny stuff, and you have to move around your head to navigate. It made my wife dizzy, and this is an image of me playing it.

Oh, and get yourself a ViewR from Powis and play it. A simple viewer can be purchased for $29.99, and one with alligator skin can be bought for $39.99. That, or you could purchase an Oculus for $599 this March or the HTC Vive for $799. I think you can see where this is going, as there will be a demand for cheap VR in the future.