You might have noticed something different about the site. While we intended to get this review of the Noon VR Headset out on Sunday, we had to take some time to push the site to version 2.0. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Noon VR. It is just such a mixed bag. The hardware is decent, but the exclusive app is a complete mess that may be beyond repair. Let’s get started.
The Noon VR is definitely a nice looking piece of equipment. All of the other Google Cardboards I have come across either look like, well, cardboard or are a bit large and clunky. Noon VR has a stylish logo and sleek straps. Even the the air vents look silky smooth. It would almost seem like more effort was put into the appearance than the feel of the device.
There were quite a few things that were subpar:
- Straps – Much like the Gear VR for the S6, the straps are too short for anyone without a small head. This results in fogging when using it.
- Foam Cushions – The cushioning is not sufficient for comfort, especially around the nose area. My nose felt like it was pushing up against the plastic. The cushioning around the bridge of the nose is about half as deep as the rest of the cushioning. As the cushions are not removable, I would only wear the Noon VR for extended periods of time if I was able to modify with my own solution for the cushioning.
- Vents – There are vents almost everywhere you look on the Noon VR. I counted 2 on top, 2 on bottom, and potentially quite a few more if the other holes I saw were for air flow. I still experienced quite a bit of fogging while inside a room with normal temperatures.
Not everything was a disaster with the hardware. There is a focus dial that allows you to adjust the focus level. It’s quite sufficient for those with vision that’s a bit off. While I’m not an expert in optics, I was able to spin the dial in each direction almost 20 times. However, any severe visions problems are not going to be solved with that dial. This focus dial is a great feature, as most of the other cheaper headsets don’t include one.
The Noon VR fits most phones sized 4.7 inches and up. While headsets like Zeiss VR One & Samsung Gear VR fit your phone into the ideal position for optimal viewing experience, with the Noon VR, you will find yourself struggling every time to slide your phone into that optimal position. Rest assured though, as soon as you find the perfect position the death grip strap that holds it in place does a very good job with making sure your phone isn’t going anywhere.
The lenses are about the same size as those on the Gear VR, and feel quite high quality. The frame where your phone is placed is also detachable. This makes cleaning around the lenses a breeze to do.
Part of the draw for the Noon VR is the exclusive Noon App, which promises that “users can watch 24-hour streaming of immersive VR video through various channels. (1~2 channels are offered upon launching)”.
So you are probably wondering how many of these 24-hour streaming VR video channels there are? Spoiler alert, but absolutely none. There’s not even an area in the app for this feature. Well at least they have plenty of content, perhaps even some original content, all available on the app. I’ll let the following screenshot below answer that question.
The good news is that now there are about half a dozen 360° videos taken from YouTube that you can view. Even a download option is available, much to the delight of YouTube I would imagine. Most of the content on the app are 2d or 3d normal videos.
The Noon VR App does have one thing going for it, and that’s the interface. They did a bang up job on delivering a very intuitive interface, which allows the user to navigate all the video content without ever taking the headset off. This includes any locally stored 2d, 3d, or 360° videos on the phone itself (as long as the file is .mp4).
Bringing up the menu while watching a video requires merely a tap on the back of the phone. The same tap also re-orients the screen in the direction you are facing. There is a lock mode available as well. This mode keeps the video facing you at all times, and is quite useful when viewing in a car, plane, or any vehicle with a lot of motion.
Uploading a video to their app for others to view is a bit of a hassle. After uploading the video, you then have to wait for approval before it becomes available. This even applies if you mark the video as private, which makes absolutely no sense. The most baffling part about the process is that their approval process seems to be a farce. When I first received my Noon VR headset, there were hundreds of videos uploaded to the app without the owner’s permission.
While the Noon VR App has an innovative control scheme, and runs quite smoothly, I can see it turning into nothing but a cesspool of illegally uploaded videos if things continue to go the way they have been going. If you are looking to play local videos, there are other options that do the job much better at a fraction of the price.
Noon VR is a solid headset, but with a broken app that hampers it’s image. The ability to hold pretty much any phone inside is overshadowed by the tight fit, fogging, and comfort issues. At $89.99, you are much better off throwing down a bit more and going for something like the Zeiss VR One if your phone is between 4.7 and 5.2 inches.