Google's new Pixel phones are beautifully crafted pieces of technology. Ignoring all of the "it looks like an iPhone" nonsense from people who have yet to actually hold the phones, these Pixels look and feel fantastic. The three colors they come in all stand out in their own way, too. Really Blue, Very Silver, and Quite Black are fun, striking designs all ready to live in your pocket or in a new Daydream View headset. That headset is its own unique step forward for Google and VR, but in our hands on with Daydream View it became clear there's likely to be a very real problem when using the two Pixel color variants with glossy white fronts in this headset.
The demo area for Daydream View was intentionally dark. Darker than the rest of the event space by quite a bit, which is impressive given the night club vibe some of the event gave off. These demo stations each had a Quite Black 5.5-inch Pixel in the headset, ready to be used. Sitting all the way in the back of this dark demo station, turning my head so my back was facing the light source revealed some substantial light bleed coming from the sides of the headset not being totally flush with my skin. On the one hand, this design is great for comfort and for keeping my prescription glasses from being smashed against my face. It's a great feeling, especially when compared to the Samsung Gear VR. On the other hand, despite Google's efforts to hide it the light bleed was plenty noticeable.
This may not be a big deal in most user situations if you've got the Quite Black Pixel, but both the Very Silver and Really Blue Pixels have a glossy white front. That white front means reflections from the light bleed are going to both stand out and add more light to the space between your eyes and the lenses. That's a problem for two reasons.
First, the headset itself is going to be less immersive when you can see the rest of the world around you in reflections. Immersion matters in Daydream a whole lot more than it ever did in Cardboard, because you're expected to be wearing this headset for a while. Second, and perhaps more important, the reflections are going to give your eyes something else to focus on. Rapidly focusing between the content on the display and the reflections on the glass is going to rapidly increase eye strain, which could lead to users with headaches and general soreness much more quickly than with most other VR headsets designed to be worn for extended periods of time.
If you're only ever planning on using Daydream View in a dark room, or if you're planning on using Daydream View with the Quite Black Pixel, this isn't likely to ever be a real problem. If you're using one of the Pixels with a white front and you're in brightly lit rooms or rooms with lots of lit objects on the walls around you, there's potential for concern. We'll know more for sure once we're able to spend more time with the Pixels and their new VR headset, but if you're excited about Daydream View make sure you choose your colors wisely.
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