VIRTUAL REALITY

LG Electronics

Review: LG’s ultralight virtual reality goggles and fun 360-degree camera

South Korean phone maker releases two VR accessories for its latest flagship smartphone, the G5

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 May, 2016, 10:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 May, 2016, 10:00am

360 VR

Samsung already pushed out the Oculus-powered Gear VR last year, and a number of other big names are releasing VR hardware. LG now has its own VR goggles and the company’s done things slightly differently.

Unlike the Gear VR or Oculus Rift, which are quite clunky to strap onto the head, the 360 VR is more like a pair of sunglasses with side shields. It’s light enough at just 100 grams and certainly didn’t strain my neck.

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It’s so light because, unlike the Gear VR, 360 VR doesn’t house the phone in the headset. Instead, it is connected to the handset by a USB-C cable.

It also doesn’t feature any sort of navigation buttons on the headset and relies on directions swiped on the phone. The 360 VR doesn’t allow you full motion of the head as you’re always tethered to something.

The headset has independent displays built in and draws power from the phone through the connected cable. Each eyepiece is individually adjustable in terms of focus and there is a rubber bridge that sits on the nose. The whole thing does feel comfortable.

However there seems to have been no effort to filter out external light, and even on the inside of the lenses, light reflects off certain surfaces.

The biggest shortcoming is that during fast head movements, images become visibly blurred, ruining the sense of immersion.

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360 CAM

The 360 VR headset allows you to view any content you may generate with the LG 360 CAM, which is equipped with two 13-megapixel 200-degree wide-angle cameras, a 1,200mAh battery and 4GB of internal memory which can be supplemented by a microSD card. All of these are housed in a compact design with a protective cap.

This fun gadget has the ergonomics of a highly portable hand-held camera.

It’s extremely fast to switch on and is ready to take photos and videos in an instant. I took it everywhere and spent lots of time going through the end results.

360 photos are fun and the output quality is basic but sufficient. The software does a good job of stitching images from the two wide-angle cameras together so it is impossible to see where one ends and the other begins – and that is the whole point.

360 videos are something else. They’re videos, except you get to examine the surroundings in all directions while the video is in motion.

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If you’ve watched any of the 360 videos on YouTube then you’ll now be able to create the same type of video with this little 360 CAM. Powerful stuff.

The rest of the technology lies in how the camera connects to the phone through Bluetooth as well as Wi-fi. It allows you to wirelessly turn the camera on, use the phone’s display as a live viewfinder, access stored files or transfer them to the phone. It’s not the most elegant solution as you lose connectivity to the outside world while connected, but it worked consistently during my testing.

The tiny 1,200mAh battery is rated to capture video for up to 70 minutes. After taking 40 photos, 10 minutes’ worth of video and making numerous connections, I’ve only managed to deplete a quarter of the battery.

Conclusion

It’s likely the VR goggles and the 360 camera will survive at least until the release of LG’s next flagship handset. There’s no denying their utility and the fun they add to the G5 if you own that already.

360 VR and 360 CAM both cost HK$2,598 (HK$1,898 when purchased with the G5).