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Lifewire / Emily Ramirez
Comfortable, practical Design
Houses a wide variety of phones
Hygienic pleather and lightweight plastic
Comes with a controller
Expensive for what it is
Looks and feels cheap
Included controller is not good
The Pansonite 3D Virtual Reality Mobile Headset is a thoughtful accessory for phone-based VR experiences, but it won’t match the quality of more costly standalone headsets.
Whether you want to get into VR for the first time or are an avid consumer of mobile VR experiences, it’s important to find a headset that fits both your head and your eyes. The Pansonite VR Headset offers a myriad of critical headset features, such as interpupillary distance adjustment and built-in on-ear headphones, that lets you enjoy mobile VR as it was intended to.
This Pansonite headset is easy to wear all day, weighing just 1.33 pounds and measuring 9.2 inches wide, 8.4 inches tall and 4.3 inches thick (HWD). There are lighter headsets on the market, such as the Destek V4 VR Headset, but it justifies its heft by having built-in on-ear headphones and a lot of ways to make the headset fit perfectly. It features interpupillary distance (IPD) adjustment, individual lens protrusion adjustment, velcro straps to secure the headset, and headphone pivots.
You can use the headphones by plugging your phone into the 3.5mm audio jack hidden in the phone compartment, which can be accessed by popping the front cover off. The phone compartment also has a rubber grip and a little plastic shelf to hold your phone in place. If you’d like to navigate your phone while using the headset, Pansonite built a Play/Pause button, Fast Forward and Rewind buttons, a Select/Home button, and Volume buttons. Unfortunately, the buttons are difficult to press, so it may not always activate the right command on your phone.
The Pansonite Mobile VR Headset is comfortable to wear and has integrated audio that will let you get immersed in the experience.
Unfortunately, the headset feels rather cheap. The casing is made of a light, flexible plastic that seems like it could easily crack. While comfortable, the face padding and ear pads are made of a thin faux leather fabric and hastily tacked on. The included controller, the Shinecon Bluetooth Controller, feels hollow inside and the casing has shavings on the seams. Should you get a working controller (more on that below), it functions with a single AAA battery that’s not included.
There’s a small manual in the box that details how to operate all the buttons, but it’s pretty brief. All you need to do is pop off the headset’s front cover, place your smartphone in the slot with the headphone jack oriented toward the 3.5mm jack, connect the jack to the phone and close the headset. Bad news for those without a 3.5mm jack. To pair the included controller to your phone, you have to turn it on, then hold onto the button for about two seconds until it flashes red. It should be listed on your phone’s Bluetooth menu as VSC-40.
Unfortunately, our phone refused to pair with the controller under the pretense that the controller wasn’t ready to pair, so we connected our Xbox One controller to our phone (the newer controllers have Bluetooth).
Although Pansonite skimped on material quality, they did pick soft, cushy fabrics and a practical plastic. It sits comfortably on the head and stays aligned with three velcro straps. Over time, the headset may sag from the weight of the phone, since there is no counterweight on the back. The face and ear pads are super soft and breathable, reducing issues with sweat and fog.
The lenses were adjustable in two ways: the IPD and the focal distance. It supports a wide array of IPDs (from 60 to 70mm) and focal distances (37.5 to 46.5mm) to minimize the risk of eye strain. After using the headset for a couple of hours, we felt very little neck or eye strain.
As with many VR headsets, the resolution is dependent on your phone. The Pansonite headset features an aspheric, “HD” lens that claims to be engineered to avoid dizziness after prolonged use. The lenses are fairly good for the price point, they allow up a 120-degree field of view and have a true to color tint. However, they are a tad blurry and some users claim to have experienced double vision in some VR experiences.
While the headset itself performs fine for the price, there isn’t a whole lot to do in mobile VR. Because phones lack dedicated GPUs or advanced graphics performance in general, mobile experiences cannot be too technically demanding. You won’t be playing Beat Saber or Skyrim VR anytime soon on your phone.
However, this has not stopped VR developers from getting creative and making the best out of mobile VR’s limitations. A lot of mobile experiences rely on head movements to interact with the environment, which is a surprisingly fun and intuitive way of interacting with your virtual surroundings.
In particular, filmmakers and journalists have flocked to mobile VR as a way of telling important stories in an interesting and novel manner. The New York Times and The Guardian each have dedicated VR documentary teams that have delivered breathtaking experiences such as simulating life on Mars and seeing extinct wildlife.
Some less demanding games have also made their way to mobile, such as Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, a multiplayer game where you defuse a bomb, and Land’s End, from the developers that gave us Monument Valley. For those into more casual games, there’s Hidden Temple and Minos Starfighter.
The sound quality in the Pansonite VR headset is decent for its price point. It supports 360-degree sound, even if it doesn’t feel like it fills the room. It is slightly tinny and lacking in mids and bass, but it’s nothing shameful when compared to similarly priced headsets or even cheap earbuds.
For the price, you’re paying for a hassle-free headset that’s comfortable for hours and has a reasonable sound
The Shinecon controller is not a shining feature of this Pansonite headset. It is small, feels cheap, has loud buttons, and struggles to connect to phones. We had issues getting it working at all and many people have reported receiving a faulty controller on forums. You may prefer to use a different Bluetooth-enabled controller for a smoother, more expansive experience.
What games you can access will depend on the phone you use. If you own a Samsung flagship at least as recent as the Galaxy S8, you can access Google Daydream compatible experiences. These are more powerful and sophisticated than those available for Google Cardboard (the app) or on the general Google Play Store.
Simply put, your mobile VR experience is a bit more future-proof. If you own an older, less powerful phone or an iOS phone, then your experiences are slightly more limited. Many mobile VR developers design with lower end phones in mind, so while you won’t have access to visually or computationally spectacular pieces, you will still be able to play with many fun and engaging works.
If you have an iOS device, there aren’t many App Store exclusives thanks to Google’s partnership with Samsung to create mobile VR headsets and Apple’s lack of VR-themed partnerships.
For about $70 MSRP, you get a good mobile VR experience. It’s admittedly a little pricey for its build quality, but it performs as well as similarly priced models. For the price, you’re paying for a hassle-free headset that’s comfortable for hours and has a reasonable sound.
If you want a more luxe experience, you’ll have to pay for something like the Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR (each about $100). On the other hand, if you’re a bit hesitant about dropping that much money on a mobile accessory, there are cheaper options. You can get a Google Cardboard headset for about $10 if you want to try mobile VR out before investing in it. Keep in mind though, the Pansonite headset is much, much more comfortable than cardboard boxes.
There is nothing remarkable about the Pansonite headset compared to other mobile VR headsets available. The Aoguerbe VR Glasses are about $20 less and have many of the features present in the Pansonite, including integrated audio, IPD, focal distance adjustments, and an included remote. From more established brands, you could invest in a Google Daydream headset for about $100, or move away from the Google ecosystem entirely and try a Samsung Gear VR headset, which runs wonderfully on the Oculus Go platform.
A decent option to enter VR.
If you like mobile VR, this headset is not a bad buy. The Pansonite Mobile VR Headset is comfortable to wear and has integrated audio that will let you get immersed in the experience. That said, it has some quality control and durability concerns, so it may not be the best choice if you are looking for a headset to demo with.
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