Virtual Reality

Virtoba X5 Elite VR Headset Review: Immersive VR for Under $30

The Virtoba X5 Elite is a premium VR headset that leverages Google Cardboard technology whilst moving away from the “cardboard” part. Offering a massive 120 degree field of view, is it any good? Read my Virtoba X5 Elite VR Headset review to find out.

Read moreVirtoba X5 Elite VR Headset Review: Immersive VR for Under $30

Blitzwolf VR Headset Review: Good VR On A Budget?

Blitzwolf have entered the world of VR with the Blitzwolf VR headset. Building on Google Cardboard’s foundation, the Blitzwolf VR headset adds in premium materials, padding and straps. Is this the ultimate Google Cardboard VR headset? Read our Blitzwolf VR headset review to find out!

I want to say thanks to Banggood for sending a sample to review.

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What’s In The Box?

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Blitzwolf have provided a respectable set of inclusions inside the box:

  • 1x Blitzwolf VR Headset
  • 1x Replacement Rubber Bumpers
  • 1x English Instruction Manual
  • 1x Cleaning Cloth

Blitzwolf VR Headset Review: Design

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Taking the Blitzwolf VR headset out of the box, it’s clear that this is a fairly large headset – probably on par with other VR headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR and Oculus Rift in size.

The unit is leagues above Google Cardboard in terms of build quality (as you’d expect!). The whole unit is made of plastic, with elastic straps to hold the unit on your head and thick leather-like padding around the eyes for added comfort.
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The three elastic straps are fully adjustable and held in place with velcro. I’ve got a large head but didn’t have any issues adjusting them to fit.

The front of the unit shows of some Blitzwolf branding. Prying off this faceplate (it’s held in place with magnets) reveals additional ventilation for your smartphone.

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The entire front of the unit also opens up (again, using 3 strong magnets to hold it shut) to allow you to fit in your smartphone in the unit’s telescopic grip. Blitzwolf have stated that 4-6inch phones are supported, though you may need to remove your case to get it to fit. That said, my iPhone 6, Galaxy S4 and LeTV 1S fit in just fine.

The part of the headset that comes in contact with your phone’s screen has foam to protect it from scratches which is a nice touch. Cutouts are also available for routing cables, such as chargers and headphones if you need it.

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With the smartphone holder being held closed with magnets, I was worried it wouldn’t hold the phone in place when closed. Thankfully, I was wrong. Even with some more vigorous head movements, the front panel remained securely shut.

There’s a couple of dials that allow you to tweak the headset to make it more comfortable. The top dial allows you to adjust pupillary distance (aka PD – the distance between your pupils). There’s two dials on the side for myopia adjustment, bringing the image closer or further away if you’ve got issues with distance vision. There’s a little play in these dials which doesn’t affect use but does attract from the build quality somewhat.

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Google Cardboard comes with a magnetic switch which is used to interact with some apps but this functionality is missing on Blitzwolf’s unit. Instead, you’ll either need to open up the front panel to physically touch the screen or opt for a Bluetooth controller. However, most VR apps are designed to be controlled only with head movements or a controller so this wasn’t as much of an issue as I first thought it would be.

The unit’s build quality feels good and durable, so I’m not concerned that it’ll fall apart on me.

Blitzwolf VR Headset Review: Using It

Using the Blitzwolf VR headset is simple. Open up the front on the unit,  slide your smartphone into the holder (making sure to keep everything centered) and fire up your favorite Google Cardboard-compatible app.

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Use the aforementioned dials to tweak the unit’s settings to make the image sharp and you’re ready to go.

Lens quality was fantastic and leagues better than those that came with the Google Cardboard headset. The lenses are clear without any unusual distortion, leading to nice, sharp images.

That said, image quality is also dependent on your smartphone’s resolution, as using Google Cardboard tech halves the horizontal resolution. At times, my Samsung Galaxy S4’s 1080p resolution looked a little grainy but that’s not the fault of the headset. If you’re wanting a better image, use a phone with a higher resolution (such as the Xperia Z5’s glorious 4K screen). A larger screen also leads to a more immersive experience.

I tried a heap of VR apps (check out my favorites here) and having a proper VR headset is far more immersive than Google Cardboard. Without light leaking in and no need to hold the headset in place, the experience is leagues better.

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The leather-like padding around the eyeframes is nice and comfortable, even after lengthy gaming sessions. However, I got a little sweaty around the eyes.

My smartphone also got a little warm too, so I’d recommend opening up the front vent if you’re planning on playing with VR for long periods of time.

Should You Get One?

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Do you want to flirt with VR without draining your bank account? Finding Google Cardboard isn’t durable enough for you or just sick of holding it on your face? If so, I thoroughly recommend the Blitzwolf VR headset.

It’s well made, comfortable, leagues better than Google Cardboard and an affordable upgrade to experience the wonders of virtual reality. Thoroughly recommended.

Getting One

You can get the Blitzwolf VR headset from Banggood for around $26 or with a Bluetooth controller for an extra $1.

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Alternatively, it’s also available from Amazon.

Andoer CST-09 VR Headset Review

The Andoer CST-09 is a premium VR Headset based on Google Cardboard’s technology. By utilising your smartphone’s screen and high-quality lenses, the Andoer CST-09 allows you to experience virtual reality without breaking the bank. But are they worth your hard-earned money? Read our Andoer CST-09 review to find out!

Thanks to TomTop for sending me a sample to review. Use coupon “TOMTOPVR” to get it the VR headset and Bluetooth controller bundle for only $17.39.

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What’s In The Box?

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Inside the box, Andoer have included:

  • 1x Andoer CST-09 VR Headset
  • 1x Replacement Rubber Bumpers
  • 1x English Instruction Manual
  • 1x Cleaning Cloth

Additionally, TomTop are offering a bundle with a compact Bluetooth controller which is suited for VR:

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Andoer CST-09 VR Headset Review: Design

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The Andoer CST-09 VR headset is a large bit of kit, with a design similar to pretty much every VR headset in the market such as the Gear VR or Oculus Rift.

Essentially a much fancier Google Cardboard, the Andoer CST-09 takes Google’s cardboards VR solution and turns it up to 11. Andoer have upgraded the materials, added straps to hold it on your head for hands-free fun and building in plenty of customisation controls to make it as comfortable as possible.

The rear of the unit houses the two lenses, with comfortable leather-like padding around the frame that’s very comfortable when on your face. Large straps (adjustable via velcro) hold the unit on your face. I’ve got a big head but I was able to adjust it to fit comfortably.

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The front of the unit features a removable plate with Andoer branding. It’s held in place via strong magnets and can be removed to provide additional ventilation if required. There’s also cutouts for cables (such as for your headphones or a USB cable) which is handy.

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The entire front panel opens up to reveal the smartphone holder tray. The clips that secure your smartphone are spring-loaded, providing a good grip and keep the phone from moving when you’re looking around. A soft foam surround helps cushion your phone’s screen if it’s larger than the viewing area.

The smartphone holder extends to support phones from 4.0-6.0 inches. I didn’t have any issue using it with my iPhone 6 and Galaxy S4 though the larger phablets may struggle to fit.

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The front panel is actually held in place by a series of strong magnets. I was worried it wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the phone in place but, despite shaking my head enthusiastically during a few VR games, it stayed in place.

There’s also a few dials to help tweak the unit to make it more comfortable. The top of the unit has a dial for adjusting pupillary distance (PD – the distance between your eyes). There’s also a dial on either side for myopia adjustment, allowing you to move the image forwards or backwards if you’re short sighted.

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You’ll notice there’s no magnetic switch like the one found on Google Cardboard so for apps that require it, you’ll need to use a Bluetooth controller or your fingers instead. Thankfully, most apps are designed not to need it.

The actual build quality of the unit feels solid. Everything feels like it’s well made. I’m not concerned about the durability of the unit.

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In terms of the included Bluetooth controller, it’s compact and comes with an analogue stick and 4 face buttons. There’s also a Bluetooth shutter mode that allows you to use it to take photos on both Android and iOS so it’s usefulness extends beyond VR.

Andoer CST-09 VR Headset Review: Using It

There’s really not much to using the Andoer CST-09. Just slip in your smartphone and fire up your favorite Google Cardboard-compatible app.

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After using the various dials to adjust the VR headset for the best image quality and comfort, it’s just a matter of enjoying the experience.

The soft, leather-like material is very comfortable. Even after using the goggles for an hour straight, they never got uncomfortable but I did get a little warm.

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Speaking of heat, I found my smartphone did get a little warm when the goggles were fully sealed as the screen is constantly running. Removing the front panel greatly improved the situation.

The lenses are miles better than the one’s that come with Google Cardboard, leading to a much sharper image.There was no obvious distortion or cloudiness – just pure VR goodness.

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That said, the higher resolution your phone’s screen in, the better the experience. My Galaxy S4’s resolution is 1080p and images looked a little grainy at times given that Google Cardboard halves the horizontal resolution, though that’s to do with the tech itself and nothing to do with the VR headset.

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I tested as many VR apps as I could get my hands on (see my favorites here) and having a proper VR headset makes a massive difference. Without having to hold the Google Cardboard viewer in place and having all light blocked out leads to a far more immersive experience. Watching a 3D movie in a VR cinema or racing around a VR racetrack is an incredibly unique experience. Getting to flirt with VR without having to fork out $600-odd to play with the Oculus Rift is just awesome.

Should You Get One?

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If you’re looking to flirt with virtual reality and want to upgrade from Google Cardboard, I highly recommend the Andoer CST-09 VR Headset. It’s well-built, highly flexible and incredibly comfortable.

Though they’re missing the magnetic button of Google Cardboard, the Bluetooth remote is definitely a workable solution – particularly if you’re wanting to dabble in more interactive VR experiences such as VR games.

Getting One

You can get the Andoer CST-09 VR headset from TomTop for around $20. Use coupon “TOMTOPVR” to get it with the bundled Bluetooth controller for $17.39.

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Alternatively, it’s available from Amazon.