Xiaomi VR Headset – Rumors, Specs and Preview
Xiaomi VR on Thursday, 4 August 2016 was launched as the entry product of Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi into the virtual reality space. This comes a couple of weeks after the company ventured into computer manufacturing, launching their first laptop Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air.
The product has been released for beta testing in China, and as if to avoid pricing it out of the market, Xiaomi have made the untested device available for only $0.15. Basically, you cannot buy the Xiaomi VR headset right now as it is still undergoing public testing but you can own the ‘unofficial’ version – which is essentially what Xiaomi would have released right now had public testing been unnecessary.
While you would be forgiven for thinking the flattering price is nothing but an awareness gimmick, the headset is a full package of what Samsung and co. are giving us at no less than $65. So, yes it’s a golden opportunity to get yourself a VR headset for next to nothing. Before you contemplate placing an order, though, it’s worthwhile to note that not everyone will get their hands on the device.
All interested parties will be required to register online, then a random selection will be done to determine who gets a copy of the limited bundle. Coming as good news to the company and an overture of what the future in the market holds for them is that there were allegedly more than one million registrations in the first eight hours after the portal was opened on August 1.
A representative of Xiaomi told CNET the company will give out the product to tens of thousands of applicants (a fraction of the expected total number of applications), and that the first batch of testers has already been determined.
Below is everything we know about the product so far, including its design, features, compatibility and how it ranks against smash hits and market leaders such as the Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard.
Xiaomi VR Headset Design and Specs
The Mi VR Play comes in a frame pretty similar to that of Samsung Gear VR but with a few authentic modifications for identity. It’s most striking feature, though, is its two zipper design which the company explains is for ease of inserting and removing a smartphone into the headset.
This is unprecedented and looks like a pretty convenient way to make the kit useful regardless of the environment or weather. Also, you don’t have to worry about the phone falling, which, anyway, has not been a problem with the Cardboard, Rift or Gear.
The headset is fabricated on EVA and Lycra materials with the company substantiating their choices with the weightlessness that this type of devices (that hang from the face) call for. Additionally, these materials keep the kit and the smartphone within from becoming too hot, the same reason there are two large openings at the front of the headset.
It comes in a variety of colors, like you would expect of a Chinese product, including leopard print, denim and van Gogh. Customised prints will be available too.
Xiaomi VR Play Smartphone Compatibility
The virtual reality kit measures 201mm by 107mm by 91mm and weighs 208.7g – marginally smaller than the Samsung VR Gear which is 201.9mm by 116.4mm by 92.6mm big and 318g heavy – and has been designed to accommodate any phone in the region of 4.7 to 5.7 inches in size.
A 5.7 inch phone fits perfectly inside the kit while you have to use the two openings at the front to position and adjust the placement of a smaller phone. The non-slip pads inside the headset help keep the phone in place regardless of its size.
Comfort has been a major issue with most virtual reality headsets; some are simply not velvety enough while others are fairly good only that some people find it hard to be comfortable with a ¼ kg device strapped around their heads. While the weight can hardly go below that, there are a few mutations that can be done to make them more comfy.
Even Samsung have had to tweak the latest Gear VR’s design a little bit in response to complaints from past and current users. We can’t appraise the Mi VR vis-à-vis comfort but be sure to have our two cents when we write a full review of it when it comes out. For now, the strap looks modest in size, shape and touch which together with the lightweight nature of the kit make for a presumably comfy VR headset.
Xiaomi VR Partners
Xiaomi during the launch on Thursday announced partnerships with a few companies (most of them Chinese), including Youku – China’s version of YouTube – who will provide video content in 360 degrees to chime in with the setting of the headset, Korean VR company Dooribun and Conde Nast Traveler.
It is still unknown whether Mi VR Play headset will support Google’s virtual reality platform on Android but there is a high likelihood it will happen according to reports in China.
With the virtual reality space still in its infancy in China, there is little doubt the Mi VR Play will become a blockbuster. China’s (and Asia’s at large) huge population will most probably be the single target of Xiaomi, who are plausibly not in the position yet to compete with established rivals in Europe and the Americas.
If they make price a bait though, just like most other manufacturers have done before, entry into the aforesaid markets may not take long. What we are almost sure of is that the final version of the Mi VR Play will come in a price significantly less than what top models are currently going for.
Anyone who finds Samsung’s £65 a little absurd and just don’t fancy the Cardboard even though it comes at a mammoth bargain will sure welcome the entry of this product into the UK and Europe. Quality hasn’t been an issue whatsoever with virtual reality kits, so cheaper in this case will translate as better.
Talk to us in the comment section below and give your views about the Xiaomi VR Play and the features you would wish to see incorporated into it. Also, you can post questions about the product and whatever additional information you think we may have left out.