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My Thoughts on the Google Cardboard I Received for Christmas | NewsWatch Review

By: Nick Gambino

My father in-law, Jerry, has made it his mission in life to keep the family up to date with the newest and coolest in tech gadgets. This year we all received the Google Cardboard virtual reality headset.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about the Google Cardboard. I had heard that it existed which is about where my knowledge of it ended. Upon opening, it looks as though it’s something that can be constructed for about $1.43 (and it probably could). It mainly consisted of cardboard (as one would expect something titled “Google Cardboard”) as well as a couple of rubber bands, some bi-convex lenses, velcro and magnets.

There were no instructions on how to put it together, I guess because it’s almost self-explanatory in its design. But me being construction-impaired I had to look up three YouTube videos and four articles before I was able to put it all together.

Two hours and 142 pulled-out hairs later, I had it completed! I downloaded the accompanying app, inserted my iPhone and settled in, with no real expectations. What came next surprised the cynic in me.

I selected the Welcome Video and was instantly transformed into a series of unique worlds. One moment I was in a museum, the next in a jungle with an ape swinging towards me and the next exploring the depths of the ocean.

And the thing was, it felt like I was really there! Who would have guessed some flimsy cardboard and bi-convex lenses could create a superb virtual reality experience? It reminds me of a science project you might have put together in the 5th grade but instead of just winning first prize and a pretty ribbon, Google scooped it up and started selling it to the masses, a few bucks a pop.

The Google Cardboard app allows you to experience Google Earth locations through VR and a few other neat demos like a kaleidoscope (which is actually pretty damn cool, like an acid trip sans acid). But to really get into the VR experience Google Cardboard has to offer you’ll need to download some other apps.

The Cedar Point roller-coaster app is pretty cool if you want to experience the action of a charging roller-coaster complete with all of the dips and corkscrews. Make sure to use a pair of good headphones to really transport yourself to the VR world.

If you’re into horror movies, there’s a great Insidious VR app that’ll have you quaking in your boots up until the very end. For this you’ll have to definitely make sure you’re wearing headphones.

There’s a Discovery VR app which has cool 360-degree VR videos like Spacewalk Mayday where you experience what it’s like to go on a space walk to repair a satellite when things suddenly go wrong.

But easily the best app I’ve come across so far is Vrse. Unique videos abound in this app. My favorite are two Saturday Night Live videos where you are able to sit in the audience of the SNL 40th Anniversary Special amongst all your favorite celebrities. By looking around you get a unique view of what goes on behind the scenes of a fast-paced TV show.

For only a few bucks Google Cardboard delivers the goods. It works as a great stop-gap while we wait for the Oculus Rift to hit the market some time in the next 3 months. And just in case you need a little more convincing, check out this grandma using the Google Cardboard to experience her first roller-coaster ride.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch.  He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.


  1. Vrse is fantastic. I also like the NYT VR app with The Displaced, Star Wars with Jakku Spy, InCell VR, and Street View. If you’re on Android, then also try Titans of Space and Cardboard Camera.

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