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LG 360 VR review: LG's first VR headset is virtually unusable

The LG 360 VR might be lightweight, but the experience is weighed down by some odd design decisions.

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Nic Healey Eric Franklin
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Nic Healey Senior Editor / Australia

Nic Healey is a Senior Editor with CNET, based in the Australia office. His passions include bourbon, video games and boring strangers with photos of his cat.

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Eric Franklin Editorial Director

Eric Franklin leads the CNET Tech team as Editorial Director. A 20-plus-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, chauffeuring his kids around town, or absorbing every motivational book he can get his hands on.

5 min read

It seems like everyone is having a crack at making a virtual reality headset, so why shouldn't LG get to have a go? After all, if Viewmaster can stage a VR comeback, then surely so can the Korean electronics giant?

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5.4

LG 360 VR

The Good

The LG 360 VR has a compact and light design that's very comfortable to wear.

The Bad

It's not a good VR experience, has terrible light leakage and looks really uncool.

The Bottom Line

There are better VR experiences to be had than the LG 360 VR, and better G5 accessories to spend your money on.

Despite handing over a headset to CNET for testing, LG didn't tell me the price (despite the fact that some online retailers are listing it for $200, which converts to around AU$265 or £140). Nor did it offer a rundown of the specs or even confirm if the 360 VR was getting an Australian release. And truth be told, if the company decides to base any release decisions on early response to the product, maybe we won't be seeing the 360 VR any time soon...

But first off, let's look at how it compares with its most obvious competitor, Samsung's Gear VR:

LG 360 VRSamsung Gear VR (2015)
Resolution (per eye) 960x720 pixels at 693ppi1,280x1,440 pixels, at 518-577ppi depending on phone
Connection USB-C cableMicro-USB connector inside headset
Weight 134.3 g (4.7 oz)318 g (11.2 oz) headset only, phone will add 171 g (6.03 oz)
Dimensions 164.1x185.6x45.9mm with arms extended (6.46x7.3x1.8 inches)92.6x201.9x116.4 mm (3.64x7.95x4.6 inches)
Works with LG G5Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7 and S7 Edge

So it's like the Samsung Gear VR?

The 360 VR does actually work in a very similar way to Samsung's Gear VR. It uses the processing power of the LG G5 to run the virtual experiences. However, instead of placing your phone directly into the headset and using the phone's screen as your window into virtual reality as you would with the Gear, the 360 VR -- complete with its own screen -- plugs into the G5 via a USB-C cable.

The result is a lighter headset that works kind of like a pair of safety goggles, only less cool-looking. It's not the prettiest product I've ever seen: grey plastic on grey textured fabric does nothing for me. Urgh.

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Dave Cheng/CNET

Since it doesn't use the G5's screen, what's its screen like?

The headset has two IPS displays built in, offering a dual 960x720-pixel resolution with 693 pixels per inch. That's a lower resolution than you'd get with a Gear using a Galaxy S7 as its screen, which has a pixel count of 1,280x1,440 per eye.

But it's more comfortable to wear?

Credit where credit is due: The 360 VR is the most comfortable of the VR headsets that I've worn, but that comes with a big caveat. The open design makes for a lot of light leakage, where light seeps in from the real world. While the HTC Vive and Gear VR work to block out the real world, I found it really easy to peek around the sides of the 360 VR.

I'm assuming this is a deliberate design move. The lack of a touchscreen on the headset itself means you're supposed to control your way around using the phone's screen and the design lets you look down to see what you're doing, although you could easily do it by touch alone. It does, however, make for a less immersive experience. That said, I never had the lenses steam up the way the Gear VR will do occasionally, which was a nice, sweat-free change.

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Dave Cheng/CNET

The arms are made of a springy, curved plastic and can't be adjusted. Despite having a fairly large head, I never found them uncomfortably tight. I did quickly learn to take off the headset with both hands though -- using the one-handed style of "whipping off" caused the arms to hit my eye rather painfully. Oh, and dealer's choice: you can plug your headphones into either the headset or your phone.

Can I wear it with glasses?

No, but it does have a nice trick to help with that. You can adjust the lenses individually by manually turning them, and even adjust the distance between them. However, there is a problem. If the light shield is on, you can only make the adjustments when you're not wearing the 360 VR, so it becomes a series of trial and error to get the distances right, continually putting on and pulling off the headset to play with the focus. Removing and replacing the light shield is a complete pain as well. To compound my frustration I found that putting it back on could cause me to bump the lenses and misalign the adjustments I'd just made.

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Dave Cheng/CNET

OK, so what can I actually do with this thing?

At the moment, when you start using the 360 VR your main options are the Jaunt VR app and YouTube. Any content you've recorded on the LG 360, be it images or video, can also be viewed.

Jaunt VR mostly has 360-degree videos of varying interest. Short documentaries on the history of Machu Picchu and news stories, for instance about a replica of Paris in China, are both featured on the app.

A very recent update for the 360 VR Manager app has added the Epiq VR, SBSPlayer and NextVR icons, but these are still greyed out and can't be accessed, so it's not clear what's going to be offered via these.

What's the experience like?

Not great. Actually, I'd go so far as to say not even good. The lack of immersion makes the experience feel quite odd, as if the image is floating in front of you rather than you being in the moment. Samsung's Gear VR, while slightly uncomfortable, has a more exciting feel to its virtual reality.

The image is crisp enough, when you manage to get the focus right, but I experienced a sensation of motion blur that gave me a bit of a headache when I used it for more than a few minutes. Lag wasn't particularly bad, but the open style of the headset also made it easy to get distracted by the real world, even when I was engaged in what I was watching. At times it felt like watching something hovering in front of my eyes, rather than a world I was inside of, and that's not a great VR experience.

I want to try VR and have a G5: Should I buy the 360 VR?

Short answer: No. While LG's approach has merit from a comfort standpoint -- Samsung's Gear VR is clunky to wear in comparison -- the 360 VR just doesn't do what it needs to do in order to convincingly transport me into another reality. I want to be swept away and forget about the real world for a while, and the 360 VR simply fails in this endeavour.

That said, we still don't know the final price. If it's low enough, the 360 VR could work as a fun accessory to tinker with. Something along the lines of the Viewmaster VR goggles. But if it turns out to be closer to the $200 that some retailers are suggesting, then I recommend building your own Google Cardboard or buying one outright (prices start as low as $15).

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5.4

LG 360 VR

Score Breakdown

Immersion 4Interaction 4Comfort 9Ecosystem 5Setup 8
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