How to Get Started With Virtual Reality for Under $30

It’s been nearly four years since Oculus Rift took Kickstarter by storm, raising $2.5 million before being purchased by Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion — and the Oculus Rift launched at $600. More recently, the HTC Vive launched at $800. Compared to what’s still to come, these are on the cheaper end.  


2016 looks set to be the year that virtual reality comes into its own, but looking at the most popular devices on the market may discourage you due to the high costs. That’s why we’re going to show you how to get started with VR on the cheap using the Google Cardboard.

What Do You Need?

Google Cardboard

Smartphone with a gyroscope

Cardboard works by splitting your smartphone’s screen in half, effectively using each half as a separate lens — one for each eye. Your phone displays an image on each half of the screen from a slightly different perspectives, which is what creates the 3D effect.

You need a smartphone with a gyroscopic sensor for head tracking. If you aren’t sure if your phone has a gyroscope, find your phone on GSMArena and take a look at the sensor list.

Which Cardboard Headset to Get?

To get the best experience from Google’s VR platform, you need a Cardboard headset. These were originally given away at I/O in 2014 to all attendees, and soon after Google released manufacturer specifications, thus opening up an entire market for Cardboard headsets.

The Cardboard headsets are designed to be inexpensive ranging between $10 and $30. They are made out of cardboard after all, and if those that are designed to Google’s specifications can carry the “Works with Google Cardboard” verification.


The model I use is the Cardboard 2.0 from BrizTechVR which is only $15 on Amazon, and its design conveniently supports both Android and iPhone.

While these official headsets are made of cardboard, some “premium” sets have recently come onto the market with better construction. If you fancy a hit of nostalgia with your modern tech, then you could try out the View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack, which is Cardboard compatible:

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