Friday, 16 June 2017

Merge VR Goggles Review - Age 10+

The Merge VR Goggles Headset is a Google Cardboard compatible headset which is suitable for children from age 10+. This is a real gap in the market so we were keen to try it out. Most headsets are for age 12 or 13 plus and we know that pre-teens are keen to try VR.

Disclaimer: We were sent a Merge VR Goggles Headset for the purposes of this review. As always, our opinions are our own.


Getting Started

It's easy to get started with the Merge VR. Like other VR headsets, it has a QR code which you scan with the Google Cardboard set to configure your phone.

We used the headset with my 10-year-old son's hand me down HTC One M7. It's far from the best phone for VR but it does the job. 

Design and Comfort

The Merge VR is made from lightweight foam. Weight is a serious consideration for children using a headset as they have to support the weight of the phone and the headset. The lightweight material is really important and will be appreciated by some adults as well as kids. 

The Merge VR does have a headstrap so it can be worn without holding on to it (this means you can use a hand-held controller if you want.) There's a strap across the top of the head which helps to distribute weight. Elastic and velcro make the headset easy to adjust and put on. 

As well as being lightweight the foam seems like it would absorb the shock if it gets dropped. This is an important factor with kids and VR.

One feature we really like is how easy it is to get a phone in and out of the headset. It just slides in the top without anything to open and close. This also means that kids and are more likely to actually take the phone out afterwards and put it on charge.

There are two buttons on the top of the headset which do the same thing - tap the screen. You can use whichever is more comfortable. This might be important for left-handed kids. 

Lenses and Glasses

The Merge VR has adjustable lenses which means it can be adjusted to suit different users. This means that some people who wear glasses won't need them when using the headset. 

My kids don't wear glasses, but I do. I could get a reasonable experience by adjusting the lenses but it wasn't as good as with my glasses. I found that I could comfortably wear the headset over my glasses. Getting it on was slightly tricky, but once on it was fairly comfortable.

Content

Merge VR is Google Cardboard compatible so there's plenty of choice for content. VR Start is a curated library of apps and videos to try. It mixes free and paid content and there's no way to view just the free content. 

We love escape games and they have started appearing in VR form. My son and I both played through an escape wearing the Merge and it worked really well! The game didn't use the buttons so it was a good test of supporting the headset without using your hands.

My son tried out several of his favourite VR apps and they all worked well. The headset doesn't have any technology other than simple buttons to tap the screen so the technical part of the experience is down to your phone. 


Augmented Reality

The Merge VR has a removable panel on the front for augmented reality apps that make use of the camera. 

Merge's upcoming Merge Cube makes use of this feature. It a physical cube that it used with the headset to create holograms that appear in physical space. We're looking forward to the Merge Cube. It has already started winning awards and looks a lot of fun. 

Verdict

The Merge VR Goggles worked well for us. The main benefit is that it's a headset that has been designed for use by kids from age 10+, much better than kids using a headset that was designed for adults. This is more about the design of the actual headset than any issues with VR technology. 

We love the purple colour and geometric shape, it's fun without being childish. Great for the pre-teen and tween crowd who don't have many options that have been designed for them.  

We also like that Merge are focusing on a young audience. The major VR players are ignoring under 12s (and most are ignoring under 13s.) This is annoying for an age group that's very aware of the latest tech and doesn't want to be left out. In our view this is a good reason to support Merge and their mission. 

The Merge VR is just the thing for giving youngsters a taste of VR without spending a fortune. The tech is likely to have moved on by the time they meet the age requirements for the adult setups (usually 13, but see our VR headset age recommendations for more details) so holding off on an expensive setup makes sense in the long run. For kids under 10, we recommend the View-Master headset which doesn't have a headstrap and is suitable for kids from age 7. 

The Merge VR suitable as a headset for all the family too. I found it pretty comfortable and the wipe clean surface makes it feel okay to share a headset. 

Image Credit: Merge VR




More from Tech Age Kids:

Comments:

Post a Comment