Among the more interesting "products" introduced at last month's Google I/O conference was Google Cardboard, a do-it-yourself virtual reality kit that generated at least as much buzz as Android Auto and Android Wear.
Of course, if you wanted to see what all the fuss was about, you had two options: Purchase and assemble the various components yourself using Google's plans (to the tune of $25 to $45), or order a kit from DODOcase and wait 4 to 6 weeks (!) to get it.
Now there's a third option, one that lets anybody try Google Cardboard right out of the -- sorry -- box: Unofficial Cardboard has a fully assembled Google Cardboard laser-cut kit for $26.99 shipped (converted, that's £15.76 or AU$28.80). That's after applying coupon code cheapskate10%off at checkout. (That code also works with the unassembled version if you'd rather have the satisfaction of putting it together yourself.)
Update (7/27/14):Unofficial Cardboard now sells the assembled and unassembled kits for $21.95 and $19.95, no code required.
If you're ordering from outside the US, shipping costs a flat $10 (converted, about £6 or AU$11). And, if you already ordered a kit from DODOcase or another supplier and don't want to wait, cancel that order, then forward the cancellation receipt to Unofficial Cardboard -- they'll shoot you back a coupon good for 20 percent off.
Update:International shipping is $10 only if you ordered the unassembled version.
Both versions come with everything you need (except the phone) to experience Google-style VR: the cardboard housing (laser-cut to Google's specs), two 25mm glass lenses, magnets, Velcro, a rubber band, and even an NFC tag (which Google designates as optional) you can use to launch the Cardboard app (assuming your phone supports NFC, also optional).
Just one question remains: Is your phone compatible? According to Google, Cardboard works with "most modern Android phones," but only about half a dozen models (including the Galaxy S4/S5, Nexus 4/5, and Moto X) have been tested by Google and designated "fully compatible."
Unofficial Cardboard also notes that the maximum screen size for this kit is 5.1 inches, though they're designing kits for larger phones/phablets.
I haven't tried Google Cardboard myself, but from what I understand, it's pretty cool. And at this low price, it's a lot cheaper than an Oculus Rift. I'm in for one. Think you'll give it a try? Or do you think you can build your own for less? (FYI, the lenses alone are selling for about $15 on eBay. And the magnets and other items will likely run you at least $10 more. Just saying.)
Bonus deal: I'm all about simple tools that can help you save money, and I love price trackers that will notify you when something you've been eyeballing sees a drop. Here's one with a unique twist: SnapUp for iOS alerts you to price drops for products based on screenshots you grab. Yep, no copying and pasting URLs, just take a screenshot of any product-detail page (in a shopping app or on a website), then fire up SnapUp for instant price-tracking. Clever!