NEW YORK — Last year's View Master VR Viewer brought Mattel together with Google Cardboard. This year Mattel revealed the View Master VR Viewer Deluxe ($40, available in September), which should offer a more immersive experience thanks to audio, zoom controls and higher resolution imagery.
The Deluxe edition slots iPhones and Android devices into its headset, which you hold against your face. Mattel added two headphone jacks, so it can work with a variety of headsets.
The new virtual tours available for the device will include National Geographic's Dinosaurs adventure and Discovery's Underwater tour. Both will retail for $15 and should be available in March. We played the View Master game Escape the Labyrinth ($20, available in September), but since the Deluxe isn't ready, we had to use the original VR Viewer.
While one player views the world of Escape the Labyrinth through the viewer, the other will use a physical book of clues to aid his or her teammate through a series of riddles and puzzles. We're excited that the Deluxe will get audio and high-res worlds, as the original viewer's experience had a lot of jaggy edges, and the lack of sound kept me aware of the busy convention center floor around me.
Users open experiences and games by aligning their Viewer against a title's disc, a nod to how kids would drop in the original View Master's photo-embedded discs. As it's currently designed, the Deluxe should fit phones that are as wide as the 6 Plus, though a Mattel told us it should work with even wider phones, because who knows what size this year's smartphones will be. It should also work with other Google Cardboard apps.