A phone-based VR headset.
Virtual Reality. Currently the big thing in gaming, you can’t move without Virtual Reality being shoved in your face. While most gamers may well be drooling over the likes of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, the price point for this high end VR experience will be out of reach for many, especially considering that many of these devices will require new hardware in order to use them. This kind of VR equipment is incredibly impressive, and will give the most immersive VR experience. But there is another option for those who don’t want to spend a fortune, and that is the type of headset which houses your mobile phone.
You must have seen them, they are everywhere from mobile phone shops and electronics superstores, through to discount stores and even petrol stations. And they come in a massive variety of styles, from the simple Google Cardboard DIY style headsets, through to the more pricey Samsung Gear VR headset. They may not provide the bells and whistles experience to be found in the likes of the Vive or Rift, but they are a great way to enjoy some simple VR, along with the likes of 360 videos and 3D movies.
Which brings me to the Trust GXT 720 Virtual Reality Glasses, a headset that I have spent the last week or so playing around with. Trust are a well known company that have been around for years, providing quality computer peripherals and digital lifestyle accessories. The GXT 720 headset is retailing on Amazon for around £65, which sets it at the mid-range price point.
The GXT 720 comes nicely packaged in a solid box, giving the impression of quality. Inside the box, the buyer will find the headset itself, some paperwork, and a rather nice little extra that really sets the GXT 720 apart from most other headsets of this type – a Bluetooth gamepad. But we will get onto that in a moment.
When it comes to the headset, it is a big lump of black plastic with a silver band around. To be honest, it doesn’t look particularly different from most other headsets on the market. Still, external aesthetics are not really important here, it is functionality that matters. The unit has a hinged door on the front which opens to allow placement of the mobile phone. There is also a removable panel on the front of the door which will give access on most mobile phones to the camera and thus Augmented Reality. Soft rubber padding adorns the curved side which is held against the face, making it quite comfortable, although it can get a little sweaty after extended use. The cut out for the nose is large enough to suit anyone, but those with smaller noses will notice a little light bleeding in through the gap.
The GXT 720 comes with a three point headstrap, which is fully adjustable and will hold the headset firmly in place. A small knob on each side of the headset can be twisted to move the phone closer or further away to adjust the focus distance. Then there is a little dial set in the centre of the top which moves the lenses left and right to set the pupil distance for the user. With all of this available adjustment, the GXT 720 should be suitable for pretty much anyone, young or old, large headed or small.
The hinged door opens easily, held closed by a magnet, allowing the user to quickly insert their phone. Now, the specs for the headset state that it is suitable for mobile phones up to 80×150mm. I have never measured my phone, but as I use an iPhone 6+, I was a little concerned. However, I managed to fit my phone in quite easily, which gives an idea of the phone size that this headset will accommodate. The phone is held in place by a spring loaded bar along the top and bottom, which is quite solid. I did notice that the bars were pressing buttons on my phone and kept turning it off, but Trust must have realised that this may be a problem and have included in the box some small foam pads which can be attached to the bars to prevent exactly this type of issue. Addressing another potential issue, the hinged door has a small cut out on each side so the user can plug in their mobile phone or use headphones while using the headset.
For the first set up of the headset, Trust have included a basic instruction sheet. However, with most of it being simple pictures showing the user what to do, it is not as straight forward as it perhaps should be. It took a few attempts to get the headset set up nicely and playing well with the Google Cardboard app, which it is recommended that the user install on their phone. One place I stumbled, and I feel stupid about now, is that the QR code for Google Cardboard settings for this headset can be found on the inside of the removable AR panel, and in the instructions. Yeah, I’m an idiot.
When it comes to controlling, some VR apps can be controlled simply by moving the users head, while others may require the user to flip open the headset and tap their screen. Trust’s answer to this is the wireless Bluetooth controller that comes with the headset. It’s only a little thing, probably the smallest controller I have ever used, and comes with a charging cable. On the face of the controller, there is a d-pad, A B X Y buttons, start and select, and a dedicated camera button. along the top edge are two shoulder buttons and the power button.
Once again, the pictorial instruction sheet guides the user in how to set up the controller and how to use it. It is quite easy to understand, with different cotnrol modes dictating what the button functions are. However, for me it was more a case of struggling to find apps that would actually support the controller. The controller is a nice idea and works well in the right situation, but it simply has limited use due to lack of support – at least with iOS, the Android experience may be different.
So what can you do with the headset? Well, it really is still early days for Virtual Reality, so the apps available at the moment are somewhat limited. There are some quite impressive little games out there, although they do feel more like proofs of concept than fully fledged games. Outside of VR however, there is an abundance of 360 degree videos and 3D movies that users can enjoy, both on YouTube and elsewhere on the net. With more and more people picking up these headsets, I am sure that the content will continue to grow.
I have to say, as my first foray into this type of VR, the Trust GXT 720 Virtual Reality Glasses are quite impressive. They are solidly built and offer all of the adjustment and functionality that you can expect from a VR headset. The included wireless Bluetooth controller is a bit hit and miss, but is a nice addition to the package nonetheless. As a first step into the world of iOS and Android VR, the GXT 720 is a great choice.
Find out more about the Trust GXT 720 Virtual Reality Glasses at www.trust.com/en/product/21322-gxt-720-virtual-reality-glasses