Cardboard is Google's virtual reality kit, combining a 3D app with an inexpensive viewer so you can experience immersive virtual reality on your phone.
Easy to set up and use: The hardware and software kit (which required Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, and later) lets you use your Android phone to experience virtual reality. Launch the Cardboard app and follow the directions for pairing your phone with your Cardboard viewer. Fit your phone into the viewer and peer through the viewer's lenses. Press a button to select content, swivel your head to move around in a scene, and tilt the device to return to the home screen.
VR content: The Google Cardboard app offers a handful of VR demos, including a fly-through of Chicago; a brief, narrated tour of Versailles; and 360-degree views of wood sculptures. But third-party apps on the Google Play Store offer a broader selection, highlighting what you can do with 3D. For example, The New York Times through its NYT VR app presents stories in a 3D environment. And YouTube has a broad collection of VR videos, from exploring a reef to naming a cat.
Strain on resources: Virtual reality has a cost. Battery life takes a hit while driving VR apps, and phones can overheat, strapped in the Cardboard viewer.
Image quality: While navigating through the 3D scenes is smooth, image quality can vary from app to app.
Google's Cardboard 3D app and viewer are an inexpensive and engaging way to jump into 3D scenes. While Cardboard may lack the horsepower of more expense setups such as Oculus Rift, its appeal comes from only needing to hold a small cardboard box to your head to enter a virtual world.