Xiaomi Mi VR Headset: Review
Xiaomi released their first VR headset, the mi VR Play, designed to fit smartphones with between 4 and 5.7-inches and bring users into the world of Virtual Reality.
Announced in the summer, originally more than a million people signed up to be beta testers for the Mi VR Play and several thousand were selected and could purchase the device for about 10 cent. The retail unit costs a little more, coming in below €20 on most sites, what do you get for this and how is the experience?
The Xiaomi VR Glasses are light and comfortable to wear and even fit well over prescription glasses. Measuring approximately 201x107x91mm and weighing just a little under 210g (just under 4 Mars bars) it remains comfortable for average use.
A double-zippered front compartment holds your smartphone neatly in place and will cover most devices in the 4- to 5.7-inch range. A detachable, elasticated headband can be neatly stored in the zip-up compartment when not in use.
The two anti-reflective, optical-grade aspheric lens (similar to those used in the Oculus Rift) to provide maximum clarity. The anti-slip strips on the headset keep your smartphone in place and aligned with the lenses, but also allow you to manually adjust them if you didn't line the phone up 100% accurately at the start.
Designed in Lycra and very lightweight, Xiaomi also offer a number of designs such as Denim, Floral, Night Sky, Leopard, Lotus and Camo. There's also a plain black version.
We tested with a Lumia 950 device, a 5.2-inch screen with 518 ppi (pixels per inch) and a QHD display. The phone fit neatly in the Mi VR Play and there was no bleeding of light from around the edges, turning your head allowed the picture to accurately track your view and watching Side-by-Side (SBS) 3D videos or VR experiences flowed naturally. Playing a 4K SBS 3D video from YouTube or another 4K source really put you into the middle of the action and the best compliment you could pay to the Mi VR Play is that it just got out of the way and facilitated the experience
The Mi VR Play is compatible with Google's VR platform, Daydream, which eventually will have its own section in the Google Play Store offering apps and other content specifically tailored for the VR Market.
If you are looking to dip your toes into the world(s) of Virtual Reality, but aren't ready to go all in with an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and the PC to go with them, the Xiaomi Mi VR Play is an excellent introduction and will work with the phone you already have. We even tested with a budget Lumia 640, a 5-inch screen with 294 ppi also provided an adequate experience, but the magnification of the lenses meant that you sometimes became aware of the grid of pixels in the picture rather than the image or video before you. However, that is down to the budget rather than the Mi VR Play itself.
Size: Easy to manage, store and not too heavy to wear for extended periods.
Comfort: Even with prescription glasses, the Mi VR Play fit comfortably during use
Flexibility: This will work with iPhone, Android and even Windows devices between 4-5.7 inches.
Price: For under €20, it may be worth it just to experiment and see if VR is for you
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