Virtual Reality. It seems like this term is all the rage these days. Every other week there's a new device or company announced in the VR space. From high end head mounted displays such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, Samsung's GearVR mobile device headset attachment, to the basic and portable Google Cardboard. VR is, and will be experienced at all ranges of budget and portability.
Goggle Tech is targeting the budget end of that scale. Making use of Google's Cardboard specifications, the Go4D C1-Glass comes ready to be configured on your Android device. Unlike Cardboard, which is bulky and not easy to carry around, C1-Glass has been designed with portability in mind.
The goggles comes packaged in a small 150 x 80 x 35 mm black case, similar in size to a case for standard glasses. The C1-Glass itself resembles a pair of plastic sunglasses made for a child. The plastic used for the goggles is very flexible and light. They weigh approximately 100g and measure 120 x 60 x 20 mm, and they fold up fairly flat.
Despite the light, flexible feel, the lenses were mounted on sliders and adjustable by three different increments, ranging from 50 to 70 mm IPD. After adjusting them into place, I'd be hesitant to move them regularly, as over time the notches that hold the lenses in position may wear out. They do not seem very robust.
Field of view is in line with other Google Cardboard products, with a 90-degree viewing range. (For comparison, the Oculus Rift has a 110-degree field of view.) Goggle Tech suggested that a device with a 2560 x 1440 resolution is optimal, but the C1-Glass is compatible with most smartphones with screens between 4 and 6 inches.
The design is quite clever. Hooking the phone into the goggles is as easy as you would expect, and once in place, that handset felt rather secure. The flexible material has significant spring, resulting in a reasonably sturdy grip. The prongs that hold the phone have balls at the end of them, which have O-rings around them. This prevents scratches and makes the grip stickier. Just be sure to watch when you slide the phone on and off; as you'll see in the pictures, it's all too easy for them to come off without you noticing.
Judging from the way the arms are designed, significant work was done in ensuring the C1-Glass doesn't interfere with buttons on the face of the phone. Only a small section makes contact with the phone surface; the rest is raised up on very small feet which clear the button of my Galaxy S4 perfectly. Most phones should work the same way.
Go4D C1-Glass makes use of Google's original Cardboard spec (Cardboard 2 launched after C1-Glass), and has been certified to do so. Any application that is Cardboard ready will work with it, and as such there are a number of apps to choose from already.
The software ranges from simple videos such as movies, and YouTube content, to experiences that offer a bit more interaction such as Insurgent: Shatter Reality, which is basically a short film that allows you to freely look around, rather than a fixed viewing angle. Games with limited input control are also supported, such as Radial G, a futuristic racing game that steers when you turn your head.
Go4D has a set of apps that are designed in house. Go4D 2.2 player is said to play video content from streaming sources, either through the Internet or from a local PC, or local content stored on the device.
Go4D World is an app launcher that opens up to three categories: Video/Live, Game, and Apps. When you click on any one of these selections, you'll see a list of all the things loaded on the phone. Go4D Photo is meant to allow you to view photos in 3D.
Before using the Go4D C1-Glass, you must install the Google Cardboard app. When the app opens for the first time, it should prompt you to set up your device. Find the QR code on the side of the C1-Glass and scan it with the phone. The specific configuration for your device will load and show a message stating the phone is configured for C1-Glass from Goggle Tech Inc. That's all it takes.
Attaching it to the phone is very simple, and quite intuitive. My phone has a flip cover, but C1-Glass still fits with essentially no trouble. The phone simply drops into the channel at the end of the two foldable arms. Because Cardboard apps are oriented a specific way and do not flip over with the gyro, have an app running before installing them for the first time. I put mine on upside down the first time.
The Good, The Bad, And All The Rest
My experience using the Go4D apps was met with frustration and defeat, as I was not able to launch a single video with Go4D 2.2 player, nor was I able to make use of Go4D World. For some reason, no matter what I tried to do, I kept getting an error message that stated "Error While Open Stream." It's the same message for software and videos. I don't know if this is a limitation of my phone, because the S4 I'm using isn't exactly cutting edge, or if it's a problem with the software itself, so take that into account. It's the only Android phone that I have on hand, so I was not able to verify this thought.
Other Cardboard apps didn't seem to have the same trouble. I tested a YouTube VR app that, while not perfect, did the job. Tokyo VR lets you look around a scene in 360 degrees, which worked how you'd expect. I also tried out a virtual Jack White concert that was rather interesting, and again I had no trouble viewing it through the C1-Glass.
Not every Cardboard application ran, though. Insurgent: Shatter Reality, for example, launched into the menu, but the video would not display. I suspect this has more to do with the S4 than with Goggle Tech's product, but again I cannot confirm this with another model at this time.
The only complaint I had about the device is the fact that it's not curved to fit your face. The lenses get pressed up really close to your eyes, and I found the section between my eyes would pick up grease from my face, which really doesn't promote sharing. Even some cheap nose glides would be a big improvement in that regard. I did mention the adjustment seems a little flimsy, but I really didn't run into any trouble while I was using the C1-Glass. This just struck me as a concern for longevity.
Before I tried this solution, I was convinced that the lack of a hood to shield outside light would be a problem, but that was not the case in my experience. Having outside light wasn't a big deal, but seeing your fingers on the sides of the phone can sometimes be distracting. Having a hood would take away from the portability of the C1-Glass, which it seems was a top priority for Goggle Tech. In that regard, I think it has succeeded.
Goggle Tech's Go4D C1-Glass VR attachment is available for $22 and comes with free shipping within the continental U.S. if you buy the double pack for $37.