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Kickstart this Google Cardboard headset with built-in headphones

by Jacob Kleinman | April 10, 2016April 10, 2016 3:00 pm PST

Google Cardboard is a great introduction to virtual reality, but what’s the next step up? Samsung’s Gear VR is cool, but only works with a few of the company’s own flagship phones, and high-end products like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are still too complex and expensive for the mainstream audience. Thankfully, one company has a clever solution that combines Google’s Cardboard platform with nicer hardware.

The result is Opto, a sleek VR headset with built-in headphones for under $100.

The London-based company behind Opto clearly put a lot of thought into its design. Twin speakers are built right into the sides of the device to pipe audio straight into your ears. Your phone is placed in foam bed that snaps onto the front of the headset with magnets, and a well-placed 3.5mm cord easily plugs into your device.

That magnetic design means it’s super-easy to quickly remove the phone without needing to yank off your entire headset first. The rest of the headset also uses a patented foam design that’s lightweight and simple to clean. It should work with any device iPhone or Android between 4 inches and 5.5-inch, which covers the majority of popular handsets.

Additionally, Opto offers extra-large lenses that the company says are 25 percent bigger than Google’s standard Cardboard headset. That means a wider field of view and a more immersive experience. It also works if you wear glasses.

You can pre-order Opto on Kickstarter for $93 and it should be available in October, or you can grab two for just $171. Delays are always possible, but the company says it has a working prototype and says it plans to oversee production directly at a factory in Italy.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...