VR is slowly making it to the top in the next-generation video segment and many manufacturers are creating VR headsets so that users can consume VR content to its fullest. However, most VR headset manufacturers are offering various types of VR headsets. From the basic Google Cardboard-like VR goggles to the slightly advanced Samsung Gear VR-type with a Bluetooth remote controller. While most are offering a similar performance, the only factor that differentiates each from the other is the wearing comfort, the usability or ergonomics and the quality of the device on a whole.
The only true VR performance and experience can be witnessed on advanced devices such as the Oculus Rift or the HTV VIVE, which use their own built-in display panels. Well, a toned down version of the similar smartphone-less VR headset is the VR506 3D by an Indian manufacturer Doel.
The Doel VR506 is basically a single unit VR entertainment device that does not need a smartphone to be attached in front of it. It features a display built into the frame that produces a screen to both the eyes individually. It is basically a smartphone built right into the headset, with needed video playback and controls, but lacks the usual Android operating system user interface and a SIM card option. However, it uses its own custom ROM, named Nibiru, built on top of Android.
The headset is firm and has a decent build quality. Adjustable elastic bands are placed for holding the headset over the top and around the head and are very comfortable. However, the nose area could be a little problem for some as it does not come with a padded cushion and the hard plastic can sometimes be a pain.
The headset has all its controls on the bottom, which was a bit weird as one would expect it to be on the top. However, if you have a USB mouse or a Bluetooth mouse, you can conveniently make use if it. Buttons consist of controls such as home, back, power, and enter, and volume and previous/next buttons double as control keys for moving around the user interface. A small hole is also present on the bottom, which allows you to reset the VR headset in case you face issues with it. We never had a chance to use it.
The top is completely blank, and the front features a dual-tone glossy black surface with a brand name and VR illuminated with LEDs from the rear. The LEDs turn blue when in use and red when charging.
The right side of the headset features the inputs, which has the micro USB port, a micro SD card slot and a headphone jack. Sadly, the VR headset does not have its own built-in speakers, which in a way is probably good as you won’t be disturbing people around you.
Moving ahead, the Doel needs to be charged initially. It features a 1.8GHz quad-core Rock chip RK 3288 fuelled by an internal 3500mAh battery, and an HD display with 1280x780 pixels on a 5-inch panel. The battery is said to last around 7 hours, but in our tests we could pull around 5 hours maximum with movies streaming on Wi-Fi. The unit has its own user interface with a custom ROM for viewing videos in VR and 3D. You can switch the modes between VR and 3D depending on the content type. Apps installed sport various modes for photos and videos, and a built-in motion sensor helps with motion sensing in VR mode.
Controlling the headset is easy, although it will take a while to adapt since the controller is present on the bottom of the headset. A few hours of using it and you can master the controls with ease. However, setting up the device initially was a bit of trouble as linking it to Wi-Fi and setting up accounts needs a keyboard and you only have the option of a D-pad controller to help you with the on-screen keyboard. However, you can also use a third-party Bluetooth controller or keyboard/mouse combo to help you with content scrolling, but a keyboard would be difficult to use if you don’t know typing as you would have to remove the headset or ask for help in typing.
You can use the VR headset to playback your personal content too. Fill in some movies on the internal 8GB storage or on a micro SD card and plug it in or simply use a regular USB pen drive and insert it using a USB OTG cable in the micro USB slot. You can download various movies from regular to VR and 3D and enjoy your shows on it.
Playback of content is clear and straightforward. The lenses built into the headset are placed at a fixed distance from the display within and don’t move. So if your vision is blurred, you cannot adjust the lenses. Probably this is one part where Doel did not focus on, or are sure that the lenses won’t need adjustments, whatsoever. As for usage while we had it, we never needed the lenses to be adjusted.
Audio quality is as usual, but the supplied headphones are just basic. To get better audio, we advise using your personal headphones. Supplied with the device are a micro USB cable for data and charging, a USB OTG cable and a pair of headphones. You would need to use your own smartphone’s power brick to charge the device.
As for the experience, we had no much complaints. While the device was at par with what you would get from a regular VR headset and a smartphone, this one features a lower resolution. Smartphones today feature full HD by default and the Doel VR headset has an HD display, in which the pixels are visible clearly. So if you are looking for a better resolution on VR, the Doel would not be recommended. However, if you are looking for an entry-level VR headset which would leave your smartphone for other use, the Doel is good enough for you. The headset will help keep your smartphone’s battery and storage free while the Doel can entertain you or your family and friends. The quality of the display is crisp and clear and you won’t have any complaints either. Movies and casual videos are enjoyable. The Doel VR headset is a great option for those who want to watch movies in private without disturbing those around you. You can enjoy your movies when outdoors and the Doel is best used when on a long journey on an airplane, in a train or on the road.
The Doel VR506 3D is a great starter VR headset for the masses. However, sadly, it is not priced conveniently. For a price of Rs 7,999, one would rather opt for a regular VR headset along with a smartphone separately save on big time by using your own smartphone.
The Doel VR headset does not bring anything new or unique to the table. However, it is one of the first ones out there with a built-in display and the company has plenty of room to expand and offer. Hopefully we see a better resolution headset on the next version headset with a smart price tag.