I have been to the virtual reality mountain and I have seen the future! Over the holidays, I ran into what I had previously dismissed as a gimmick from Google. Facebook was making all the headlines with its 2 billion dollar buyout of Oculus Rift (the supposedly amazing virtual reality experience). Google’s answer? Put out a $15 cardboard hack job that does an ok job of what the Oculus claims it will do for a $200 to $500 unit. Funny, Google. Really funny.
Fast forward to Google actually getting 500,000 people to make their own virtual reality goggles with the free blueprints downloadable by google, and we have a sensation! So, Google next did what any company would do. They launched a dedicated app store page to virtual reality apps specifically for Cardboard, and they made it way easier for developers to make apps for the funny little device. So, being the total tech nerd I am, I thought I simply must try out this VR craze, especially since I can do it for just $15. So I got in touch with two companies and had them send me their cardboard units for review.
The first to arrive was the unnamed company that I will not bash by name here. Their unit was in a cute tiny box and it surely looked like I would be up and running in about 10 minutes. I could not have been more wrong. It was a complete and utter disaster. 1 1/2hours later, the unit was finally together, but the all-important button did not work. I can not tell you how frustrating it is to think you will be done in 10 minutes and then have to stay up late trying to put together a piece of cardboard so your kids can be amazed on Christmas day. And, for it to not even work, was just downright wrong and insulting. How could I not be able to put together a piece of cardboard with pre-cut pieces and instructions? It was impossible. The pieces did not line up well, the adhesives were too sticky, the lenses were hard to center, the button made no sense whatsoever, and I swear I would have needed two extra hands to hold it all together for the final steps. I even tried several times to resolve the problem with the company who was almost completely unresponsive to my inquiries. My main thought at this point was that if this was what Google Cardboard had in store for the general public, they would never have a mainstream hit. Then came Unofficial Cardboard.
Unofficial Cardboard from the beginning had amazing customer service (they are not paying me to say this, I swear). There was a little snafu initially in shipping, so rather than blame the shipping company or the Holiday backlog, a Unofficial Cardboard employee went down to the local post office and hand delivered them. He even sent them via priority mail, so that I would get them in time for Christmas! To my surprise, when the unit arrived, there was even extra units as well, presumably to make up for the initial snafu. How amazing of customer service is that? That is how you make lifetime fans of your company.
Next, I opened the units and saw a much more professional looking cardboard unit that I unfortunately still needed to be put together. My hopes were soaring that I would now be able to assemble the VR goggles in 5 minutes. To my surprise, that is exactly what happened! Seriously, it could not have been easier to assemble the units sent by Unofficial Cardboard.Unofficial Cardboard had by far the easiest method for putting together a unit. I even sent them a question and they answered it via email the exact same day. I can tell you from my own experience that you probably do not want to just try to make your own Google Cardboard goggles. Yes, the blueprints are free online, and yes, you probably have some cardboard laying around, but believe me it is way harder than it looks, and that is even when you have all the pieces ready to be put together. Unofficial Cardboard has achieved the impossible: instant assembly of one of the coolest cheapest gadgets ever made. If you want to dip your toes into the VR world, Google Cardboard is the ticket. And, believe me, Unofficial Cardboard is the boat you want to be on.