There’s nothing that rankles me like a chance to try out some cool new tech squandered – and that’s what happened at Google I/O this year. I managed to snag some face-on time with Google Cardboard, the surprise gift for attendees that consists of a simple folding cardboard harness for your Android device and some concave plastic, but my own unit went missing in the hazy fugue of the I/O press room, leaving me hungry for more than my quick 30-second demo. Enter Unofficial Cardboard.
This enterprising business sprung up after Google gave away all its units and provided instructions about how to make your own at your home, with a few inexpensive supplies and some elbow grease. Me, though, I got lazy elbows and more money than brains, so I was looking around for something better. DODOcase will offer you a kit for home assembly for $20, or $25 with an included NFC tag, but that still sounds haarrddd. Unofficial Cardboard, on the other hand, only builds Cardboard clones, and it will even assemble the thing for you for $29.99 with an NFC tag included.
Unofficial Cardboard capitalized on my inclination towards extreme laziness, so I picked one up, and the results are terrific. I could notice no discernible difference between the unofficial version and the official version, and it worked perfectly from everything down to the magnetic switch that triggers your device’s magnetometer to enable clicks in the official Cardboard app, and any third-party apps built for Google’s experimental project.
The field out there for apps to use with Cardboard is still pretty slim, but in the pre-packaged ones that Google offers up as part of its official software make this a $30 purchase worth making, especially if you’re among those who’s been hearing about Oculus Rift and how game-changing it is but have yet to experience it yourself; not that I’m saying Cardboard is at all equivalent with Rift – just that it will provide some approximation of the sensation you get when you try VR, especially if you’re new to the experience.
In short, Unofficial Cardboard might as well be Official Cardboard, and if you’re really hankering for a taste of Google’s cheeky experimental foray into mobile-powered VR, this is the laziest, best option that should ship to you the fastest, too.