Earlier this year I wrote a review of the DODOcase P2 Virtual Reality Popup Viewer, an inexpensive VR viewer that works with Google Cardboard-compatible apps to turn an iPhone (or most smartphones for that matter) into a virtual reality headset. About the only problem I really had with the P2 was that truly was made out of cardboard -- and not of the Google variety -- and I found that the more I used it, the more beat up it got. Fortunately, DODOcase ran an Indiegogo campaign to bring a much more durable and good-looking VR viewer to market in the form of the $39.95 SMARTvr Smartphone Virtual Reality Viewer.
Being a VR geek who doesn't want to spend too much money on viewers, I backed the Indiegogo campaign and received my SMARTvr last week. I'm happy to say that it was well worth the wait and $40, as it's a compact folding VR viewer that you can literally take with you everywhere.
Rather than the cardboard construction of the P2, SMARTvr features cast aluminum, ballistic nylon and microfiber in key areas. Like the P2, SMARTvr simply "pops out" from a flat package into a viewer that can hold any iPhone made to date.
SMARTvr works with a ton of VR apps. Just pop into the App Store and search for Google Cardboard, and you'll see quite a list of apps including games. I'm partial to one app -- the original Google Street View app, which I use to both take 360° spherical images and view them. I also own a Ricoh Theta S VR camera and have taken both still and video 360° images with it. My images have now been viewed over 1.5 million times!
To view any of the Cardboard-compatible imagery, you pop open the SMARTvr and do a one-time setup of the viewer profile. That's done by pointing the app you'll be using at a QR code printed on the inside of the viewer and on the outside of the box it comes in. Next, you slide your iPhone into a small set of clips that hold it in place, making sure to align the line between the stereo images on the iPhone screen to the line on the eyepiece of the SMARTvr. The microfiber flap that protects the lenses of the SMARTvr can be placed over the top of the iPhone to prevent stray light from ruining your image. Start looking up, down and around, and you're treated to a 360° world that shows you everything around the photographer.
While the cardboard P2 was almost an embarrassment to show to people, they're impressed with the SMARTvr viewer. At $39.95 I think it's still a bit on the pricy side, but it is well-built and should last for years.