View Master Virtual Reality Headset by @Mattel

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Virtual reality is all the rage right now. With the inexpensive/free options made available recently, teachers are looking for cost effective ways to build this into lessons in the classroom. Google Cardboard has made this quite affordable. Mattel has made it affordable, and durable.

I managed to pick up a couple Mattel View Master Starter Packs recently at a steal. (About $20 each). How could a guy say no? Not to mention, my daughter was with me telling me how much she would like to try one out… so, in the end, I left with two of them.

First impressions are often said to be lasting ones. I must say, the View Master gives a good first impression. Granted, I am old enough I remember the old school View Masters with the little cardboard disks. I remember waiting forever and searching for new disks to bring home. This takes the old school VM to a new level.

I figured since my daughter wanted to try it out, I would make a test of that as well. I handed her the box and told her to figure it out and get it going. She is used to me having her figure things out, so she ran with it. It took her a few minutes to get it going correctly. Lesson she learned… remember to make sure your phone’s rotation lock is not active.

She got it up and going, downloading Mattel’s app, as well as Google Cardboard’s app. Both were quite easy for her to get going. We knew she was up and running when we heard “Whoa! I am at the Parthenon!”

Now, from a teacher point of view, SCORE! She was instantly engaged, and reading facts about where she was from the viewer. She quickly figured out the navigation of everything, and has been enjoying herself a great deal.

Now, for my part. The device itself is build to last. It is made of rugged plastic that seems like it will hold up to use/abuse in a classroom. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to put these in a kindergarten classroom. The phone is held inside, completely secured and wrapped in plastic. The inside is designed to hold your device in a spring loaded grip, and it includes an adapter for iPhone 5 as well.

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The negatives… there are a few. First one is that my daughter was not able to open the latch to open the device by herself. That thing is there to stay. This can be good, or bad. The good being that kids can’t easily get to the phone/device inside. The bad being that older kids can’t get their phone out so easily. A bit of a pain, but it is livable.

The next negative is that this device is NOT case friendly. An iPhone 6 with an Otterbox Commuter case didn’t fit correctly, but we made it work by carefully closing the VM with it in there. An iPhone 6 with an Otterbox Defender, well, that’s not happening. Odds are you will have to remove your device from the case to make use of this. To me, this is a deal killer, because my Defender case is a pain to remove. Cases are meant to protect phones, and it would have taken very little thinking for Mattel to make this device case friendly.

Overall, I am impressed with the View Master VR. It’s rugged. It’s kid friendly. It’s also reasonably priced, with a little searching you can grab one for $20. The case thing bothers me, but I do think it would work with less rugged case options. If you are in the market for a way to bring virtual reality to your classroom, or just want a cool device for yourself, I recommend you give the View Master VR by Mattel a look. If your phone fits inside well, go for it.

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