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Google Daydream View (2017) review

Virtual reality was all the rage last year. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VR systems released to much fanfare; Samsung unveiled its consumer version of the Gear VR mobile headset in late 2015; and Google debuted its Daydream VR platform and Daydream View headset[1] towards the end of 2016. This year, the hype has died down somewhat.

Nokia even discontinued its Ozo VR[2] camera, citing “slower-than-expected development of the VR market.” But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any improvements or new additions to the space. Facebook’s Oculus recently unveiled a standalone headset[3] that’s coming next year, and Google also announced it’s working with Qualcomm, Lenovo, and HTC to introduce untethered mobile headsets[4] that do not require a phone or computer.

While we’ve yet to learn more about those devices, we’ll have to make do with Google’s 2017 update[5] to last year’s Daydream View headset. In our review, we found that while the headset doesn’t add much in terms of new stuff, it greatly improves the experience and it’s still one of the most comfortable VR headsets we’ve tried.

What is Daydream?

Daydream is Google’s mobile virtual reality software platform. Put a supported headset on with a supported phone, and you’ll be placed in a forest with a floating screen of apps and media content.

You can look around in 360-degrees by moving your head around, but the headset does not track your position in the room like some high-end VR headsets do — it’s best used on a swiveling chair. Genevieve Poblano/Digital Trends In the Daydream environment, you have access to the Google Play Store, allowing you can install games, apps, or download movies directly in VR.

Familiar media services are also available with “VR” attached to them: YouTube VR, Hulu VR, Netflix VR, and more. You’ll primarily want to watch 360-degree content here for the full, immersive experience, but regular videos will play as usual, with you sitting in a comfy living room staring at a large, rectangular screen. Since its launch last year, the Daydream platform has grown considerably.

There are hundreds and thousands of videos you can watch, and a plethora of games. VR’s biggest problem is its lack of appealing titles and content to keep us coming back, and we’re happy to find lots more to dig through on Daydream. Still, just because there are more games, doesn’t mean they’re great.

A lot of titles, like Gunjack 2: End of Shift, tend to feel quite repetitive. There are a lot of free games and content to peruse, but do note that you’ll have to cough up some dough for certain apps and games. Thankfully, most of the paid content is affordable, often under £5 and £10.

Daydream View and its improvements

Daydream View is Google’s headset for the Daydream VR platform.

It comes with a controller, but there’s not much tech in the actual headset itself. We loved last year’s design and material, and said it looks and oozes comfort — almost like breathable sweatpants. However, once you put the new Daydream View next to the 2016 model, you’ll immediately notice the difference.

The 2017 design itself is very similar, but everything feels more rigid and tight. The material is textured almost like canvas, the strap is firmer, and the inside lining (removable facepad) where your face rests is softer and more comfortable. Since its launch last year, the Daydream platform has grown considerably.

We still prefer last year’s softer exterior fabric, but this year’s Daydream View certainly looks smarter. It has a better fit, and there’s an extra strap that goes over your head for additional support (you can remove it if you don’t want it). There’s no need to worry if you have glasses, we had no problems wearing the Daydream View over ours, and the same is true with last year’s model.

Unlike the first generation headset, you can no longer stow away the controller on the inside of the front flap of the new View. Google suggests putting the controller in a loop on the rear strap. It makes sense — we hardly transported our headset, so there wasn’t much of a need to stow the controller.

The option to place it in the strap is just as convenient. The flap where you put your phone now doubles as a magnesium heat-sink, which helps with a very real problem with VR: Burning hot phones. Last year, our Pixel XL often got incredibly hot after about an hour of VR use, causing games to stutter and slow down.

We’ve already seen the heat-sink on the new headset help a lot. We played a few games and watched some 360-degree content for about an hour, and our Pixel 2 XL only got warm. This means you should be able to spend more time in VR without heat forcing you to stop.

Genevieve Poblano/Digital Trends

But the best improvement over last year’s Daydream View is the 10-degree wider field of view. It’s easy to notice the difference when switching between the 2016 and the 2017 model. Ten degrees might not sound like much, but you’re able to see a great deal more on the screen, and best of all there’s far less light leak.

Last year’s headset had gaps on the sides and near the nose, which allowed light to leak in from outside and disrupt the experience. You can always turn off the lights, but that’s merely a half-measure. There’s almost zero light leak with the new headset, though we did see a few gaps near the nose — you may have to adjust the headset so everything is completely covered.

There’s almost zero light leak with the new headset The Daydream View is also a bit heavier than before, and while it’s not as comfortable, it’s still takes the crown as the comfiest mobile VR headset. It’s primary competitor is Samsung’s Gear VR, which uses hard plastic.

It’s bulkier, heavier, and not as attractive or comfortable. Not much has changed with the plastic controller. It fits perfectly in the palm of our hands, kind of like a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con[6], and feels smooth to the touch.

The controller now matches the color of the headset you buy, instead of always being a dull gray. There’s an indented trackpad that can recognize swipes and presses, an App button, a Home button, and a volume rocker on the side. Press and hold the Home button to re-center the home screen or the action in any app or game.

The biggest physical difference is that the App button is now raised to differentiate it further from the Home button.

Simple set up

Right now, there are 12 phones that work with Daydream VR: Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, Moto Z Force, Moto Z2 Force, Asus Zenfone AR, Huawei Mate 9 Pro, and ZTE Axon 7. It’s an impressive list that has grown considerably this year, but hopefully we’ll start seeing more budget-friendly devices trickle into the list. You’ll ideally want to use a device with a higher resolution as everything will just look better.

Playing a game on the Pixel 2 XL, for example, looked a lot better than on the Pixel 2. There’s no support for iOS yet, so don’t expect to use Daydream with an iPhone X. One of the best parts about Daydream is how easy it is to jump right in.

You just need to make sure the Daydream app is installed — if not you can find it on the Google Play Store. Place the phone on the inside of the flap, and an NFC sensor will detect it. Your phone may ask you to press and hold the Home button on the controller so it can pair with it.

Once done, Daydream mode should automatically launch on your smartphone. Just close the flap and attach the rubber strap to the “front door latch” to keep it secure. It’s all pretty simple after that.

You’ll see a pointer — that’s the direction your controller is pointing. Use it to point at apps or games you want to open and press the trackpad. The controller feels far more responsive and Google said it did make it more accurate.

We have yet to run out of the controller’s 220mAh battery, but if you run out of juice, there’s a SB© USB Type-C port you can use to charge it.

Gaming and watching shows

While playing a variety of test games (including Eclipse: Edge of Light, and Gunship Battle 2), we had no issues with performance. Most of Daydream View’s supported devices run the Snapdragon 821 and the Snapdragon 835, so you shouldn’t run into any issues. The games we’ve been trying have been fun and interactive, but we’re not so sure if there’s enough here to keep us coming back six months from now.

Google Daydream View (2017) Compared To

Watching YouTube videos in VR is comfortable enough, though we still prefer a traditional screen without the headset wearing us down.

It still feels as though you can easily exhaust your options of good 360-degree content. At times, mobile VR feels very much like mobile gaming. Games largely feel repetitive, with a few exceptions, and it’s best to play brief sessions.

The best part about the new Daydream View experience, though, is how you can easily cast what you see to a Chromecast-enabled TV. It worked seamlessly for us, and it certainly allows you to extend the fun with more people. The Daydream platform has come a long way since last year, and we’re excited to see where it will go in the coming months.

Price, availability, and warranty

The 2017 Daydream View costs £20 more than last year’s model, setting you back £100.

You’ll need a compatible phone too — the cheapest being last year’s ZTE Axon 7[7]. It’s available for purchase now in sessions gray, black, and coral. For a limited time, Google is offering £40 of Google Play Store credit when you purchase the new Daydream View.

That should be plenty to get you started with some great games. Google offers a standard limited warranty[8] that protects your device from manufacturing defects one year since the date of purchase.

Our Take

Google’s latest Daydream View headset greatly improves upon last year’s model with better build quality, less light-leaking, and a snugger fit. It’s still one of the comfiest VR headsets available, and the Daydream platform has grown considerably.

Is there a better alternative? At this price point, your next best option is the Gear VR from Samsung. It’s not as comfy, but it has a large library of good games — some of which are also available for the Oculus Rift.

The problem is you need a Samsung phone to use it. If you don’t want to switch to a Samsung smartphone, Daydream is your best bet. You may want to wait to see what Google and its partners have cooking for standalone VR headsets.

These devices will not require a phone, nor will they have any cables that tether them to a computer. We’re likely going to see news about them closer to the end of the year, so it may be worth the wait. Chances are good they will be more expensive – but also more advanced.

How long will it last? Last year’s Daydream View 2016 continues to work perfectly well, and it’s receiving a lot of the software improvements seen here. Considering there’s not much tech in the actual headset itself, we imagine the 2017 unit will continue working for three to four years, if not more.

It largely depends what direction Google takes the software. Should you buy it? Yes, if you’re interested in VR, the Daydream View (2017) is currently the best mobile VR headset to buy.

The landscape could change soon, though, as standalone headsets make their way into the market.

Editor’s Recommendations

References

  1. ^ Daydream View headset (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ discontinued its Ozo VR (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ a standalone headset (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ untethered mobile headsets (www.digitaltrends.com)
  5. ^ 2017 update (www.digitaltrends.com)
  6. ^ Nintendo Switch Joy-Con (www.digitaltrends.com)
  7. ^ ZTE Axon 7 (www.digitaltrends.com)
  8. ^ standard limited warranty (support.google.com)

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 Honda CR-V

Crossovers are all the rage nowadays, but the Honda CR-V[1] was doing it long before the segment became “cool.” More than 20 years after its debut as a concept in 1995, Honda’s midrange utility vehicle is still going strong. In fact, the Honda CR-V was the best-selling vehicle in 2016 that wasn’t a pickup truck or a four-door sedan. The 357,335 CR-Vs sold in the U.S. that year place the popular crossover just behind brand mate Honda Civic[2], the third best-selling car.

Honda CR-V engines

Honda introduced the new fifth-generation CR-V in 2017, so the engines and transmissions carry over for the 2018 model year.

All Honda CR-V models have four-cylinder in-line engines with direct fuel injection and a drive-by-wire throttle system. The CR-V LX is the only model that comes without a turbocharger. The LX’s 2.4-liter 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC motor produces 184 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque at 3,900 RPM.

The EX, EX-L, and Touring models all have a 1.5-liter, 16-Valve DOHC turbocharged engine producing 190 hp and 179 lb-ft from 2,000 to 5,000 RPM. All 2017 CR-Vs use a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the only choice for the four trim versions. The CR-V LX with front-wheel drive has EPS fuel economy ratings of 26 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined.

The smaller but slightly more powerful turbocharged engine with a wider torque band in the EX, EX-L, and Touring models is EPA rated at 28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined mileage. All-wheel drive[3], a £1,400 option for each model, exacts a fuel economy price of 1 mile per gallon for each of the three ratings. AWD won’t get you through deep mud, sand, or snow, but if you live where roads get slippery, the extra money for the upgrade and the slight uptick in fuel expense is probably worth it.

Honda CR-V tech

All 2018 Honda CR-Vs come standard with Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist[4] traction control, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake distribution, brake assist for added pedal pressure when the vehicle detects an emergency stop, tire pressure monitoring, and LED daytime running lights.

All models also have a multi-angle review camera that lets you choose top-down, normal, and wide-angle views. The LX rearview camera has fixed backup guidelines while the other models have dynamic guidelines that change as you move. The LX does not include Honda Sensing, the automaker’s active safety and driving assist package — for that reason alone, upgrading from the LX is the smarter move if you can afford it.

It’s too bad all Hondas don’t have a standard driver assistance bundle, but that will come in future years. Honda Sensing[5] includes blind spot monitoring with cross traffic monitoring, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane-keeping assistance, road departure mitigation braking system, and road departure mitigation. The CR-V LX uses a 5-inch color LCD display to control its standard infotainment system, while the upgrade models have a 7-inch touchscreen and many more infotainment features including Android Auto[6], Apple CarPlay[7], SMS text support, and more.

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How to choose a Honda CR-V

Honda traditionally bundles complete model packages, and it’s no different with the CR-V.

When you choose one of the four CR-V trim lines, chances are you won’t find you need to add options, assuming there even are options available. If you want a more feature-rich car, you need to move up on the trim line scale. The LX, which starts at £24,150, is the least equipped of the four CR-V models, from engine size, type, power, and fuel economy, to comfort and convenience, luxury, and safety features.

Like other Hondas, the CR-V[8] benefits from high resale values and reliability standards. There are no scheduled tune-ups for 100,000 miles. As you move up through the EX, EX-L, and Touring models, the standard equipment lists get longer and the prices go higher, topping out at the CR-V Touring model, which starts at £32,650.

In each case, you can balance features you need, features you’d like to have, and the amount you want to spend. Dealer charges, destination charges, optional service and warranty programs, and taxes, title, and registration may well boost the bottom-line cost, but options and equipment packages for the most part will not.

2018 Honda CR-V LX

The entry-level 2018 Honda CR-V LX, starting price £24,150, has a MacPherson strut front suspension[9] with variable ratio power steering. power front and rear disc brakes, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The LX, like all CR-Vs, has front, front side, and side curtain airbags, an active shutter grille to reduce air resistance, and power side mirrors.

Automatic climate control, power windows, cruise control, and power door and tailgate locks are all standard equipment, as are floor mats, and a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat. The 160-watt audio system has four speakers and the LX supports Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free phone operation, and has speed-sensitive volume control.

2018 Honda CR-V EX

The first upgrade level from the base CR-V LX is the EX, with a £26,950 starting price. The extra £2,800 buys upgrades in almost everything except the basic body style.

The EX includes the more powerful 1.5-liter turbocharged engine with better fuel economy and adds remote start. The Honda Sensing Active safety and driver assist package is included with the EX model and above. The EX has 18-inch alloy wheels, auto high-beam headlights, and fog lights, and the power side mirror is heated and has integrated turn indicators.

With all the other upgrades, you might not expect a one-touch power moonroof, but it’s on the EX and higher-level models. Other upgraded features include rear privacy glass, a standard security system, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, illuminated vanity mirrors, and a retractable cargo cover. The EX’s front seats are heated and the driver’s seat has 12-way power adjustments including four-way lumbar support.

The audio system on the EX bumps up to 180-watts and six speakers, and is controlled with the 7-inch color touchscreen. The driver information interface includes a raft of indicators and information not available with the LX model.

2018 Honda CR-V EX-L

Add £2,500 to the CR-V EX to buy the EX-L and the list of luxury, comfort, and convenience features continue to expand. The EX-L’s £29,450 starting price adds a power tailgate with programmable opening height so you don’t crash into a low ceiling or door.

Leather seats and steering wheel are part of the EX-L package, as well as an automatic-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink[10] remote system, two-position driver seat memory, and four-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat. The 180-watt audio system used with the EX gains two more speakers in the EX-L for a total of eight. In sum, the “L” in EX-L is the clue, because the major upgrade is leather seating.

2018 Honda CR-V Touring

The 2018 Honda CR-V Touring tops out the model line.

At the £32,650 the Touring model costs £3,200 more than the EX-L. In addition to the features included with the EX-L, the Touring model includes automatic LED headlights, roof rails, and hands-free tailgate open and close sensors. The windshield wipers add rain-sensing with the Touring, so just set them to automatic when you buy the car and never touch them again.

You also find dual chrome exhaust end caps on the Touring, which look nice outside, and white ambient LED lighting that looks nice inside the car. The Touring model bumps up the audio system considerably to 330-watts with nine speakers and a subwoofer, and the 7-inch color touchscreen works with the included satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition and Honda HD Digital Traffic[11]. You can also ask for songs with voice control.

For many people, the hands-free tailgate control and navigation system will probably be the deciding points to upgrade to the Touring model.

At that point, just select AWD for an additional £1,400, and for less than £35,000, you’ll have a fully-loaded CR-V that could likely last a decade or more, should you choose to keep it that long.

Trim 2018 Honda CR-V LX 2018 Honda CR-V EX 2018 Honda CR-V EX-L 2018 Honda CR-V Touring Base price £24,150 £26,950 £29,450 £32,650 Drive wheels Front Front Front Front 4WD/AWD AWD optional, £1,400 AWD optional, £1,400 AWD optional, £1,400 AWD optional, £1,400 Base engine 2.4L 16-Valve DOHC i-VTEC 1.5L, 16-Valve DOHC engine with a Single-Scroll MHI TD03 Turbo and Internal Wastegate 1.5L, 16-Valve DOHC engine with a Single-Scroll MHI TD03 Turbo and Internal Wastegate 1.5L, 16-Valve DOHC engine with a Single-Scroll MHI TD03 Turbo and Internal Wastegate Base horsepower 184 190 190 190 Base torque 180 lb-ft @3,900 RPM. 179 lb-ft @ 2,000 to 5,000 RPM 179 lb-ft @ 2,000 to 5,000 RPM 179 lb-ft @ 2,000 to 5,000 RPM Transmission CVT with Sport mode CVT with Sport mode CVT with Sport mode CVT with Sport mode Fuel Regular gas Regular gas Regular gas Regular gas Fuel capacity (gallons) 14 14 14 14 Fuel economy 26/32/28 28/34/30 28/34/30 28/34/30 Base wheels 17-inch alloy 18-inch alloy 18-inch alloy 18-inch alloy Body style 4-door SUV 4-door SUV 4-door SUV 4-door SUV Passengers 5 5 5 5 3rd row seating N/A N/A N/A N/A Storage behind 2nd row seats 39.2 cu ft 39.2 cu ft 39.2 cu ft 39.2 cu ft Storage behind 1sr row seats 75.8 cu ft 75.8 cu ft 75.8 cu ft 75.8 cu ft Max Towing capacity 1,500 pounds 1,500 pounds 1,500 pounds 1,500 pounds Seat upholstery Fabric Fabric Leather Leather

Editor’s Recommendations

References

  1. ^ Honda CR-V (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ Honda Civic (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ All-wheel drive (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist (techinfo.honda.com)
  5. ^ Honda Sensing (automobiles.honda.com)
  6. ^ Android Auto (www.digitaltrends.com)
  7. ^ Apple CarPlay (www.digitaltrends.com)
  8. ^ CR-V (www.digitaltrends.com)
  9. ^ MacPherson strut front suspension (en.wikipedia.org)
  10. ^ HomeLink (www.homelink.com)
  11. ^ Honda HD Digital Traffic (owners.honda.com)

Too rocky to pedal? PeakRider lets you carry your bike on your back

Why it matters to you

The handy PeakRider device will save your arms and shoulders on those hike-a-bike occasions when you have to stop and carry your bicycle. At its best, mountain biking is pretty darn awesome[1], providing great views, an all-too-rare chance to get back to nature, and a fitness regimen that beats the hell out of the treadmill. One time when it’s less than awesome?

Those “hike-a-bike” moments when you’re forced to carry your bike for long stints over rough terrain. Fortunately, German cyclist Marvin Kiesel is here to help, courtesy of his PeakRider[2] invention, a handy bike-carrying system that leaves your hands free. Not only does it increase safety, but it also promises to go much easier on your back, while saving you from aching shoulders and tired arms.

PeakRider is basically a telescoping pole that fits into your backpack and connects — via a special pouch — to your bike. As it creator explains: “Simply attach the PeakRider cone strap at your bike’s barycenter and lift your ride onto the rod. That’s it.” The resulting lightweight rig, weighing just 190 grams, then allows you to carry your bike on your back with perfect weight distribution across your back and hips.

Kiesel told Digital Trends he wanted to create a method taht would make “it easy and pleasant to wear a bicycle.” While we’re yet to try out the PeakRider, it’s certainly got the makings of an intuitive solution to a problem lots of folks have probably had. “I came up with the idea about two years ago when I was dismantling my bike to attach it to my backpack,” he said. “I was doing a tour where you needed both of your hands to hold onto the ground, and that could only happen I physically attached the bike to my rucksack.

But I wasn’t pleased with that solution, so started thinking about a better one.” For those who are interested, PeakRider is currently available to pre-order on Kickstarter[3]. It will set you back around £65 for a single unit, a 25 percent savings on the eventual retail price.

Higher price points are also available with additional discounts.

Shipping is set to take place in February 2018.

One of the year’s most potentially useful pieces of bike tech[4], anyone?

References

  1. ^ mountain biking is pretty darn awesome (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ PeakRider (www.peak-rider.com)
  3. ^ currently available to pre-order on Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com)
  4. ^ pieces of bike tech (www.digitaltrends.com)

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