LG is jumping on the VR bandwagon with the release of its new LG 360 VR headset, designed exclusively for the new G5 phone. We had a chance to try it during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and ended up with some strong feelings. The LG 360 VR is way less immersive (and impressive) than other headsets like the Gear VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive -- and it's hard to imagine who on Earth would want a headset like this. Why? First of all, the whole headset is smaller and clunkier than any other headset I've tried. It's actually so thin that it doesn't fully cover your eyes, so a reasonable amount of light enters your vision while you're wearing the headset.
Light leaks tend to ruin any VR experience, because they end up making you feel connected to the real world, rather than being able to focus on the virtual one. It's also annoying to see moving things enter and exit your peripheral vision. On the spectrum of immersion, the LG 360 VR undoubtedly ranks last.
The LG 360 VR's display is also much worse than the ones in other popular VR headsets. The resolution and lag are horrid compared to the LG's biggest competitors. In virtual reality, lag is most commonly experienced when you move your head from side to side. During our short trial of the LG 360 VR, every single time I tried to move my head the image blurred (because of lag). The problem was enough to completely ruin my experience and distance me from the idea that I was actually riding a rollercoaster.
The problem is likely because the LG 360 VR headset must be connected directly by wire to the G5 smartphone. The phone is more than likely handling the graphics processing, and it's safe to say that it was a little overmatched for the software it was running. The headset is nowhere near the capabilities of the Oculus, Vive or PlayStation VR -- which use powerful PC rigs to handle the processing instead of a smartphone chip.
How does it stack against the Gear VR, then? I'd say pretty badly. Even though Samsung's VR experience still has a long, long way to go, LG's is worse in almost every way I can think of. We still don't know the price on LG's VR bet, but I suspect it will significantly cheaper than Samsung's offer. If it's not any cheaper, it will probably fail miserably.
The only upside, if there is one, is that the LG 360 VR might be used in the same way that Google's Cardboard is. They're not the top VR headsets or the most immersive VR experiences, but they're decent at handling basic tasks like displaying 360-degree images or videos. To be sure whether the the LG 360 VR is actually worth it, we'll need more info about its price, tech specs and availability. Expect more info about the LG 360 VR later this year.