Pico Goblin review: affordable standalone VR headset
The Pico Goblin is considered one of the first untethered standalone VR headsets. Released in late 2017 from Pico Interactive (China), this device beat VR headset releases from larger technology companies like the Oculus Go, Lenovo Mirage Solo, and HTC VIVE Focus.
Standalone untethered VR devices are believed to open up virtual reality to the mass market, however only if the costs are reasonable and if the technology delivers great immersive experiences. By removing the need for a PC or a powerful smartphone, and offering a purpose-built wireless VR headset, VR is, therefore, more accessible.
The Pico Goblin VR HMD is affordable and features an amazing display, although sadly lacks in the content department and has therefore already been outclassed by headsets available with better specs, albeit some at a much higher cost.
Note: the Pico Goblin VR headset is available in China but runs on a different operating system (OS) to those sold outside of China.
Pico Goblin: standalone VR headset
- Affordable price
- Display quality is great value
- Comfortable design and fit
- Limited content
- Technology not future-proofed
UNBOXING AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
This affordable headset comes packed separately to the headset straps and controller. With regards to the controller, it looks similar to those that accompany the Daydream or Gear VR headsets. The remote is a light device with two buttons and has a reasonably ergonomic design, clickable touchpad.
The main headset is made of plastic, and in our case is white, grey and silver, and comes with a thick black rubber foam for the face to rest on. In addition, the straps are adjustable with velcro for an easy fit and adjustment to the user’s head. Initial impressions are that this virtual reality headset is compact and designed to travel well.
- VR headset
- Head strap
- Charger cable
There is a microSD slot but the Pico Goblin doesn’t come with a packed extra memory card. Furthermore, a charger cable is supplied.
The refresh rate of 70 Hz and the 92° FOV really deliver an excellent experience. However, the FOV is slightly less than some VR headsets but is still very good for an all-in-one VR headset. With a 2.5K display which is very crisp, the headset packs some visual power. The Pico Goblin’s display offers great value considering the price point of the headset at $269.
Nevertheless, one downfall is the limited immersion as both the Pico Goblin HMD and controller offer only 3DoF. The 360° tracking still provides an immersive experience but compared to newer standalone headsets, like the standalone HTC VIVE Focus and Lenovo Mirage Solo which offer 6DoF, this device is in danger of becoming dated quite quickly. Tethered devices also offer a far better immersive experience, at higher costs.
The VR headset sits comfortably with easily adjustable straps
The Pico Goblin also takes quite long to recharge. An option is to use a battery pack to charge the headset. The Pico Goblin comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
COMFORT AND DESIGN
The Pico Goblin sits quite comfortably and the adjustable head strap clips easily onto the device. Some users found the plastic components gave this HMD a cheap feel, but it was not an concern from our point of view. The three-way velcro adjustable strapping was easy to adjust and comfortable, while the thick foam lining on which the users face sits was comfortable. We experienced some discomfort issues with the rubber bridge above the nose, and although it could be adjusted, it felt irritable.
This VR head-mounted display has five buttons in total:
- on and off button
- menu display
- selecting/confirming the option
- two volume controls
The Pico Goblin has easily accessible buttons
There is also an easily reached dial on the top of the Pico Golbin to adjust the focus of the lens and improve the screen immersion. We found the buttons intuitive but would occasionally press the wrong buttons although they are all different in feel and design.
The headset is equipped with a mono speaker which allows everyone near the Pico Goblin to hear the sound from the VR experience, or users can use the 3.5mm audio jack for headphones. The HMD also comes with a microSD slot to expand on the 16GB flash memory provided.
The headset’s weight is reasonable compared to other VR devices in the market and weighs 440 grams, and it is evenly distributed on the user’s head and face. We experienced limited head movement with the headset on due to the limitations of 3DoF.
This standalone headset did not generate much extra heat in prolonged use, which is a benefit as some VR headsets can overheat.
SOFTWARE SETUP - CONTENT PLATFORMS
However, this is the biggest downside to the VR headset, it is Android-based but cannot access the content on Google Play Store and neither is it Daydream-compatible (but this might change in the future).
Although the Pico Goblin is a good entry-level VR standalone headset and offers excellent crisp display and portability. However, the severely limiting content is likely to be a turnoff for most potential users.
With the pace of technology in virtual reality, and subsequent releases of arguably more rounded and price-competitive untethered VR devices, the Pico Goblin is facing a fierce competition and could get quickly outdated. It’s still an affordable option for individual users looking for their first foray in VR.
The Pico Neo was released by the same manufacturer, also as a standalone device, but at a much higher price point. It has tried to tackle the shortcoming of the Pico Goblin and crucially offer 6DoF. Pico has mentioned that VIVE Wave, an open platform and toolset for VR content development, is partnering with them and that its SDK is available for user-generated content.