The View-Master is marketed as toymaker Mattel’s virtual reality introduction for kids, but it’s still an inexpensive option for those unsure about spending much on VR goggles, but are looking for a sturdier implementation of Google Cardboard.
Named after the classic stereoscopic toy that many of us experienced as kids, the View-Master is where nostalgia dovetails with bleeding-edge technology. The red plastic headset takes tones and tropes from the original View-Master, and can accommodate most smartphones in its clamshell enclosure.
The clamshell enclosure provides a strong measure of security; however, this, simultaneously, has drawbacks, since the enclosure makes your phone largely inaccessible. Hint: The next iteration of the device, scheduled for autumn 2016 release, and dubbed DLX, will offer a headphone connector, so one needn't rely on their phone's speakers, as well as a focal adjustment knob that will prove invaluable to users who don't have 20/20 vision natively.
Like most inexpensive viewers, View-Master doesn’t have a head strap, so hands-free entertainment is not an option. A small silver lining, though: It has a wrist strap, mostly designed so that kids using it won’t drop it and break it — no doubt a feature that many adults can also benefit from.
It comes with a preview reel and an adaptor for iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s.
Buy it now for
Is it a toy? You bet. But so are most affordable VR goggles; Mattel just happens to have a little more license to market it that way. No one’s about to confuse the View-Master with a more sophisticated viewer, but for under $20, it’s a solid entry-level VR viewer, especially when you factor in the nostalgic aspect. If you want immersion, though, look elsewhere.