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Hands-on with the Unofficial Cardboard 2.0 Plus

Why go to the trouble of building your own Google Cardboard VR viewer when this preassembled kit costs just $20?

Unofficial Cardboard's 2.0 Plus VR viewer includes something unique: adjustable lenses. Unofficial Cardboard

Last year, Unofficial Cardboard was one of the first vendors to offer a Google Cardboard kit for folks who didn't want to scrounge for parts, print diagrams, cut and fold cardboard and so on.

Now, hot on the heels of Google's Cardboard 2.0 announcement, UC is back with an update of its own: Google Cardboard 2.0 Plus. And it's exactly what a second-generation product should be: better in small but meaningful ways, yet still very affordable.

Where first-edition Cardboards looked like, well, folded-up cardboard, UC's version boasts precision cuts and your choice of seven colors. My white sample looks less like a homemade project and more like a product, despite (or perhaps because of) having "Unofficial Cardboard" plastered on almost every side.

In keeping with Google's Cardboard 2.0 specs, the 2.0 Plus can accommodate phones as large as 6 inches. But it cleverly includes an extra-wide gap to allow for phones in cases -- even ones as bulky as an OtterBox. If your phone is "naked," however, don't worry about it sliding out: the 2.0 Plus includes a small "microsuction" pad that temporarily sticks your phone into place.

Nothing too revolutionary, there, but here's what puts the "plus" in 2.0 Plus: It has adjustable lenses. Using sliding tabs on either side of the rig, you can independently slide each lens left or right to ideally match your interpupillary distance.

Why is this a big deal? If you've ever experienced motion sickness while using Google Cardboard (or another VR headset), this can help. According to the developer, "The motion sickness comes from your brain trying to compensate for the fact that the centers of your eyes do not line up with the centers of the lenses."

With a little experimentation, you should be able to find the ideal placement for each lens. (Once that's done, I recommend using a marker to draw a small line in each tab so you can easily find that placement again.) I found this a huge help, if only to help me get the best possible focus when looking at VR content. I can't comment on the motion-sickness benefits, as I haven't encountered that issue.

The Unofficial Cardboard 2.0 Plus is currently on sale for $19.95 (and will be for about another week), the same price as the non-Plus 2.0, which doesn't have the adjustable lenses. I highly recommend the add-on head strap, which costs $5. Shipping adds $3.

I'm not saying you couldn't build a Google Cardboard 2.0 yourself for less money. But if you just want to enjoy all the fruits of the technology (here's how to get started) without any of the DIY requirements, UC's 2.0 Plus is a great option.

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