Smartphone-based VR headsets are a great way to try virtual reality without spending too much money. Instead of PC-based VR headsets, which come with their own sensors, smartphone VR headsets simply hold your phone and rely on its screen and sensors. The Bnext VR Headset is a mid range option which delivers most of the functions you’d expect. The color scheme was red and black, and the overall design was modest. I found it to be very basic–neither sleek nor bulky. The headset came with an instruction manual, a pair of earbuds (which were also red and black), and a small cleaning cloth to wipe the lenses.
Getting the VR Headset to work was fairly simple. I just pulled open the plastic latch to reveal the smartphone holder, and placed my phone between two horizontal ridges that can slide up and down depending on phone size. I measured the dimensions and the Bnext Headset can fit screen sizes from about 4″ to 6″, which is almost all smartphones. The ridges have small, adjustable spacers which create space for buttons while still centering your phone properly, however my phone still sometimes touched the ridge, which activated the volume buttons. I liked the front cover–it’s easily detachable and re-attachable via magnets, which allows you to use your front camera during VR use. You can also charge your phone or use the headphone jack, since the sides of the device are open.
Watching virtual reality content was also easy. You can search up “VR 360” on YouTube and try it out immediately. Just make sure the screen is split into two parts–you can do this by tapping the glasses icon at the bottom of the video. I also used Google’s Cardboard app to find VR experiences, which you can configure to work with the Bnext Headset by scanning a QR code found on the instruction manual. Unfortunately, the Cardboard app still expected me to press a physical button for some actions (which exists on some other models, but not the Bnext Headset). I expected a gaze setting, which registers a click if you stare at a button for a certain amount of time.
The Bnext Headset’s immersion wasn’t exactly stunning, but decent for a smartphone-based VR. The FOV and visual quality was good enough for an acceptable VR experience. This is mostly an inherent disadvantage of the smartphone VR technology itself, and not the Bnext Headset. Although smartphone-based VR can’t achieve the performance and visuals of PC-based VR, it’s still enjoyable and much cheaper. For example, the Oculus Rift, one of the most popular PC-based headsets, currently costs about $360 on Amazon. The head strap and cushions around the lenses made the device very comfortable to wear, so no complaints there. However, no matter how much I adjusted, I was always able to see a small portion of the ground through the nose piece, which was a bit annoying. There were three knobs on the top to calibrate the lenses, so if the image is blurry, you probably need to readjust them.
In summary, the Bnext VR Pro Headset is a mid range device that can introduce some fun VR experiences. It’s not the highest quality, but satisfying enough for a casual VR user.
- Easy to setup and use
- Comfortable to wear
- Simple to readjust lenses and open cover
- Adequate visual quality
- Fits almost all phones
- No physical button for pressing
- Some issues with Google Cardboard
- A bit of the ground is visible through the nose piece
- Somewhat boring design