Author: Andreas Johannsen
Date: 5 March, 2016
Can Mattel make anything but toys? Apparently so – at least they’ve tried with their VR headset targeted to children age 7 and up. In collaboration with Google, Mattel has designed a new edition of their classic View-Master.
Mattel recently announced that a follow-up to their View-Master will arrive this fall – View-Master DLX – so it seems that this first VR headset has been a success.
Buy VR Guide Score
- Child-friendly and educational
- Good VR intro for kids
- Good VR experience
- Works with both iPhone and Android
- No head strap
- Mattel apps have high battery consumption
- You have to remove the phone from the dock to turn up the sound
Some of us that don’t belong to the very youngest generation probably remember the little mini cameras that enabled you to dream about far-away vacation destinations via static images in the camera. Now, however, Mattel has taken another step with their View-Master. The concept of virtual reality is interesting, but the question is whether the children think so too, or if it may get too boring? What can VR give children that they can’t get from a good book, move, or toy? We will try to find out in this review.
Mattel View-Master VR Viewer Review
Mattel View-Master is a sturdy VR viewer made of red hard plastic. Obviously, the sturdiness is due to the fact that it is targeted to children – “VR kids”. Mattel View-Master has no strap to wear around the head, perhaps for fear of kids getting hurt. Instead of the strap around your head, there is a hand-strap attached to the goggles, so kids can easily take it everywhere.
With Mattel View-Master you need to note that your child can’t use headphones with the headset, and when you need to adjust the sound, you have to take out the phone to turn up the sound if necessary – this can seem a little irritating.
As opposed to certain other virtual reality glasses, where you have to place the phone by trial and error, Mattel has marked this with a line, so there is no doubt about how to attach the phone. This works really well and is very user-friendly.
In extension of Mattel’s VR headset, you can also purchase Experience Pack Destinations. Here, Mattel has brought in expertise from such notable institutions as National Geographic and NASA in order to make some very immersive and educational apps. So far, there is a total of three apps: Wildlife, Space, and Destinations. With these three apps, children can travel to the African savannah, the temples of the Mayans, explore plants, and dive under water.
Mattel’s Experience Packs cost about $12. Mattel offers good and educational VR experiences, although these are not the only apps that work with Mattel’s VR goggles. There are many other apps that can be used for the View-Master as well, and which can just be downloaded from places like the App Store or streamed from YouTube, such as 360 degrees videos.
Is compatible with Android and iOS. Fits Samsung phones, iPhones, and Windows phones up to the size of an iPhone 6 plus.
As mentioned in the review, you have the option of trying other experiences than the ones offered by Mattel. Below, we have written about a couple of the experiences.
The contents can be divided into the following three categories.
- VR – 180- and 360-degree video
- Video filmed with a special camera type
- Can give you the experience of sitting at the stadium watching your favorite team winning the championship or of seeing the musical “Phantom of the Opera”.
- VR experiences
- Animated experiences
- Can do things like taking you on an educational journey through the universe or take you on a ride on the craziest rollercoaster
- VR games
- Computer games, where you are typically placed inside the game world
- May be something like steering a spaceship or maneuvering yourself around inside the game world.
Here you help the frog home, but on the way, there are tons of challenges to go through. Among other things, it has to jump through tall grass, visit the bottom of the lake, and collect energy by eating bugs. An entertaining VR game for the youngest players.
As mentioned earlier in the review, you can choose to purchase Mattel’s own apps, which can send you across the globe, on a trip to space, or under water.
At the time of this writing, Mattel View-Master costs $17.14 from Amazon.
I think that Mattel has managed to create a good and inexpensive option for children to try out virtual reality. With the hard plastic material, Mattel View-Master also creates a more stable VR experience for your child than, than he or she would get with e.g. Google Cardboard. Furthermore, it is also easier on your own phone, since it’s enclosed and can’t fall out and break.
When my nephew has tried VR, he has lost interest relatively quickly, preferring to play on his iPad. My slightly older niece, on the other hand, found it much more interesting and entertaining. I don’t know if it could replace a good educational book or movie for the kids, but it certainly makes a good supplement. The virtual travels to warmer skies also don’t measure up to the real experience. However, if you want to give your child an extraordinary experience in addition to regular toys, then we here at VRguide.dk/VR Guide can certainly recommend starting with Mattel’s VR headset.