If you’re looking for an introduction to virtual reality, the ViewMaster VR is a great place to start. This device is easy to use and provides a fun, immersive experience. While it may not be as advanced as some of the other VR headsets on the market, the ViewMaster VR is a great option for people who are new to VR. In this blog, we will go over the features of this device and its pros and cons.
Viewmaster VR Review
- VR Viewer is durable, lightweight, and compatible with Google Cardboard apps.
- Enjoy 360-degree panoramic views and ambient sounds.
- You will need a smartphone
- Includes a single demo reel.
- Young children may find it difficult to navigate the Experience Pack apps.
- Each Experience needs its own app.
- Glitchy during testing
- VR content could be better
Although virtual reality (VR), has been around for a while, we have only recently seen actual products using it. The Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR (14.95 at Amazon) are the most prominent. These devices are expensive and meant for adults, with the exception of Cardboard. Mattel has partnered up with Google to make VR technology more affordable for younger audiences. The View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer ($29.99), by Mattel, is a partnership to bring VR technology to a wider audience.
The View-Master is designed for children 7 years and older. It costs $18.19 at Amazon. Although it’s sturdy enough to withstand the inevitable bumps of kids, some bugs were found in the testing. Some menu options can also be confusing for adults. If your child doesn’t own a smartphone, they will have to give it up whenever they use the device. My sons Jake, 11, and Matt, 7, were impressed by what the View-Master VR Viewer can do and didn’t seem to be bothered about the issues we had. The View-Master VR Viewer is an amazing way for children to explore the world through technology.
Design and Features
The View-Master VR’s plastic appearance looks similar to a Samsung Gear VR Lite, but there are stylistic nods to the View-Master of the past, like the bold red color and chunky trigger. This viewer shares more similarities with Google Cardboard viewers.
The View-Master virtual reality Starter Pack, which includes the VR Viewer and a PreviewReel, was tested by us. The view master VR Viewer is approximately 1.5 pounds in weight and measures 9.5×3.2×5.5 inches (HWD). The VR Viewer looks like a pair of large swim goggles and has the same red-and-black color combination as the original View-Master. The device is covered in a white band and has an orange lever on its right side.
The View-Master’s front-tinted visor is more than just for appearances. It also offers augmented reality (AR), when Mattel’s content is used. Therefore, the inside of the phone must be able to see out from the front with its rear-facing camera.
The Viewer can be opened by a latch at the viewer at the top to reveal the slot where you can place your compatible smartphone. The virtual reality Viewer is compatible with the Apple iPhone 5s (at Amazon) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 (at Samsung). You can also place other Android phones in the slot (the full list can be viewed here). Mattel claims that the VR Viewer can be used with any app that supports Google Cardboard.
The View-Master is more toy-like in terms of construction and feels than something like Samsung Gear VR. The View-Master does not have a head strap and, like other VR headsets such as Google Cardboard, it can be held to your face to view content.
The Preview Reel is similar to the original View-Master film reel, but it’s made from hard plastic and does not get inserted into your virtual reality Viewer. To get things moving, frame the Preview Reel within the View-Master’s field of vision. To get the full VR experience, you will need to purchase VR Experience Packs (14.99 each) as well as the appropriate app.
Three packs are currently available: Destinations which takes visitors to New York’s Liberty Island and the Mayan city of Chichen Itza; National Geographic: Wildlife which takes them to the Australian Outback and the Amazon; and Space which explores the immenseness of the universe beyond our solar system.
Google Cardboard compatibility is one of Viewmaster VR’s features that makes it an attractive option for users. The device can be used with both Android and iOS devices, which expands its potential user base. Additionally, the Viewmaster VR has a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope that provides a more immersive experience for users.
Review of Mattel View-Master: Installation and Performance
To use the VR Viewer, you must first download at least one VR Experience app to your smartphone. I downloaded all three apps to my iPhone 5s and began with the Destination Experience app. I opened the app and followed the setup instructions.
The app launches and asks for either a Pass Card from the VR Experience Pack or a Demo Reel. After choosing the latter, I was told to point the Preview Reel at the VR Viewer by holding it up to my face. The Preview Reel showed me a 3D image of the Parthenon. The app took me to the Acropolis when I clicked on the toggle at the Viewer’s side.
It is truly amazing to see 360 degrees. It’s almost like being inside the Parthenon. You can look in any direction and even up or down. Although there are moving images in the view, you can only turn your head in one place. The app doesn’t allow you to move forward or back, so you can’t walk around the scene.
When you turn in a particular direction, a red information icon appears. Click on it by pressing down on the VR Viewer lever. Text will appear explaining what you are seeing. It is easy enough to understand and read for children, with just one or two sentences.
Some Experience Packs include short videos, such as Wildlife. A second red icon will take you to another part of the experience. The Destinations app allowed you to explore different parts of the Acropolis and the Peisistratus Gate, Athena’s Temple, and Poseidon’s Temple.
You need to turn on your smartphone’s volume for each scene. There is a cool sound component. Audio is composed of ambient sounds, such as birds chirping in the trees or light wind blowing. There may also be some music to play for the intro, depending on the Experience pack you are using.
Point the VR Viewer to the ground, and you will see options to mute or unmute sound. You can also move back to the main Destinations to explore other places and to access the Main Menu. It doesn’t take me anywhere, inexplicably if you choose Main Menu. Instead, the virtual reality Viewer shows you how to take out the headset.
Each Experience Pack also has its own set of menus and different access methods. Destinations, for example, take you first to the Parthenon. Click on the Back button to go to other destinations. You can select the type of Wildlife that you wish to see in Wildlife when you launch it. To see the menu options in Space, point the VR Viewer towards the ground and pull the lever.
In several cases, the Destinations and Wildlife apps would stop working, and I could only see my iPhone’s home screen in VR Viewer. To use the VR Viewer again, I had to close it, open it up, remove my phone, and relaunch it. These issues will hopefully be fixed by Mattel in future updates.
The VR Viewer needs to be able to see the demo reel clearly. The VR Viewer failed to find the demo reel when I tried it out in direct sunlight at night in my kitchen. The Experience apps can drain your smartphone’s battery. After trying the Experiences for 15 minutes, my battery went from 90 percent to 60%.
Both Jake and Matt had fun using the VR Viewer. They quickly learned the basics of the app launch and setup. I warned them not to use the VR Viewer while walking around, or they could end up in the emergency room. Both boys were able to navigate the virtual reality Viewer without difficulty, but they also struggled to understand the menu options. The stunning views of each scene were breathtaking to them. They couldn’t stop looking up and down at every angle and turning around. They read the scene information aloud but became frustrated when they couldn’t get close to certain objects.
Review of Mattel View-Master: What are the Requirements For a Smartphone?
To use the View-Master, you will need your own smartphone. The apps can be used on both Android and iOS phones. There are some limitations to the size of the devices that can be used with the View-Master. However, most modern smartphones will fit.
The official list of compatible devices: Samsung Galaxy S6, S5, S4, Note 4, and Moto X (2014). There are many options.
The list has changed slightly over time, and the iPhone 6S is compatible. Mattel claims that the VR apps may not work with the iPhone 5C or iPhone 5C. Because the iPhone 5 models are slightly smaller than the iPhone 5C, the adapter tray will be required for the iPhone 5 models.
The Nexus 6 offers the most immersive experience. It supports all Android virtual reality apps and fills the Space in the View-Master well. The higher the pixel density of the phone (PPI), the more detailed the content will appear when magnified using the built-in lenses. So, you should consider the SGS6 and S7 rather than the HTC One.
virtual reality is a high-demand application for your phone’s graphics (GPU). It will heat up quickly, and the battery will soon run out. You shouldn’t expect your phone to last the night after hours of heavy use.
Review of Mattel View-Master: Control and Navigation
The View-Master is compatible with Google Cardboard and mirrors the controls you will find for Google’s VR system. This will mainly be done by moving your head to adjust the view in the virtual world. You can also use the side trigger.
Side triggers will be used to select items and options. This is the main control mechanism. It’s not possible to have handheld controllers, so the only thing that makes it easy to use is this button and a well-designed app.
Review of Mattel View-Master Content and Games
The Mattel View-Master, as we mentioned, is compatible with Google Cardboard. It will work with any content already on Google Play and the Apple AppStore. These apps can be downloaded to your smartphone and opened. Then, follow the instructions to place the phone into the View-Master.
Supporting this system has the advantage of offering a wide range of content that is constantly changing and growing, and much of it is free. We have a separate review of Google Cardboard where we discuss many aspects of the experience. We recommend that you read the content section to learn more about this experience.
It’s a good idea to support Google Cardboard device because there is some important content that you won’t want to miss, such as the YouTube 360 video channel. With the recent launch of several 360 video cameras, you will likely see an increase in VR experiences at home.
To get started, you will need to download the Google Cardboard App and configure your phone for View-Master. To make the process easy, you can scan the QR code located on your Viewer.
Overall we’d say the View-Master VR is a great first taste of VR for the kids, and a not-too-shabby Google Cardboard viewer for you to try VR on the cheap. It’s less expensive than you might think and is comparable to other tech toys.
Although the variety and depth of experience packs are limited, they can be used if they align with your child’s interests. Children have an incredible tolerance for repetition, even if it isn’t their homework. The View-Master VR is a great choice for your Google Cardboard viewer. The price difference over cardboard options is justified by the fact that it’s a reliable and sturdy piece of kit.
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