Reviews You Can Rely On

Merge VR Review

This relatively inexpensive headset designed for kids is compatible with many different types of phones
Merge VR
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $50 List | $49.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Super easy to set up, very user-friendly
Cons:  Not very interactive
Manufacturer:   Merge
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Sep 21, 2017
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49
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 9
  • Interactiveness - 35% 2
  • Visual Immersiveness - 20% 5
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • User Friendliness - 15% 7
  • Ease of Setup - 10% 9

Our Verdict

If you are searching for a budget VR headset that is comfortable enough for frequent use, then look no further than the Merge VR. This headset is designed particularly with kids in mind, with its soft foam material making it particularly durable against abuse. There are a handful of accessories available for this product, to even further increase the gaming fun. It's not the best headset around, but it's a good choice for a budget headset that works with Android and iPhone and a step up in comfort over cardboard models.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Merge VR
This Product
Merge VR
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  
Price $50 List
$49.99 at Amazon
$300 List
$299.00 at Amazon
$300 List$25 List$50 List
$26.97 at Amazon
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Pros Super easy to set up, very user-friendlyVersatile, easy to use, very immersiveExceptional image quality, super comfortable, very user-friendlyInexpensive, easy to setupCheap, easy to set up
Cons Not very interactiveCould be a little more comfortableTether can be finickyUncomfortable, not as immersive or interactiveNot interactive, not user-friendly
Bottom Line This relatively inexpensive headset designed for kids is compatible with many different types of phonesIf you are searching for the best of the best when it comes to VR, we think this product is hard to beatFeaturing excellent image quality, user-friendliness, and comfort, we think it's hard to go wrong with this top-notch tethered modelThis bare-bones headset is the best way to experience VR on a budgetThis low-cost VR headset is easy to set up, but that's the end of our praise for a product we don't recommend
Rating Categories Merge VR Oculus Quest 2 Oculus Rift S Google Cardboard Bnext VR
Interactiveness (35%)
2.0
8.0
7.0
2.0
1
Visual Immersiveness (20%)
5.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
Comfort (20%)
6.0
6.0
8.0
4.0
5.0
User Friendliness (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
2.0
Ease Of Setup (10%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Merge VR Oculus Quest 2 Oculus Rift S Google Cardboard Bnext VR
Phones that fit iPhone 6 and newer, Galaxy S5 and newer, HTC One M8 and newer, LG G4 and newer. Compatible with most iOS and Android devices from the last 2 years and fits iPhone 5 to iPhone 6 Plus in size. N/A N/A Most 4" to 6" phones iPhone 5 and newer, Galaxy S5 and Note 4 and newer, Google Pixel and other 4" to 6" phones
Adjustable Lenses Only side to side Slight IPD Only side to side No, need to move the headset around Lenses slide left/right and back/forth
Sound Phone Integrated Integrated Phone Phone
Available Controllers / Remotes Yes, Merge Cube Yes Yes No No
Field of View 95 92 110 90 100
Refresh Rate N/A 72Hz, 80Hz, 90Hz 80Hz N/A N/A
Room For Glasses? Less snug than Bnext Glasses get pressed against the face Presses, even with glasses spacer Less snug than the Merge VR Snug

Our Analysis and Test Results

This headset is relatively unremarkable compared to the rest of the headsets in the group, only excelling as being one of the easiest headsets to set up overall and is one of our favorite smartphone options.

Performance Comparison


As a VR set that employs your smartphone, the Merge is one of the...
As a VR set that employs your smartphone, the Merge is one of the best. This end of the market, though, is generally best for kids. The many available apps for this product are also largely geared toward a younger audience.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Interactiveness


We based the score of this metric on how easy it is to interact with the headset and the accuracy of the motion tracking. The Merge VR didn't perform terribly well in this metric, receiving one of the lowest scores out of the entire group.

The Merge didn't have a terribly good way of interacting with the device, only having two buttons on top of the headset. This tracks with most devices that require the insertion of a phone.

A button used to interact with the screen or slide from side to side...
A button used to interact with the screen or slide from side to side to adjust the lens width.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Merge tracks your gaze as you look around your VR environment, but like the other mobile VR headsets, it does not take into account your movement throughout the room. This motion tracking relies on the internal sensors of your smartphone, which limits the interactiveness of the device compared to higher-end VR headsets. The lack of any hand controls did hurt the Merge in this metric, dropping its score substantially.

The Merge proving that VR is not a fashion statement.
The Merge proving that VR is not a fashion statement.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Visual Immersiveness


The Merge's performance improved slightly in this metric. This score is based on the sharpness and overall quality of the image shown, the field of view, and if the headset suitably blocked out ambient light.

The Merge has a decent field of view. It does feel slightly more zoomed in than other models when comparing test images side-by-side.

This carried over into our assessment of the overall image quality, costing the Merge a few points as the image would appear to be slightly distorted when compared to the other models in the group. The Merge did do a great job of blocking ambient light, only letting in a little light through the ventilation slits.

The Merge was decently comfortable, but the material it is made out...
The Merge was decently comfortable, but the material it is made out of felt a little sticky after wearing it for awhile.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Comfort


Our Comfort metric consisted of evaluating if it is possible to wear glasses with each headset, whether or not your face would get sweaty after long periods of use, and if the headset is comfortable, even after prolonged use. The Merge delivered a decent performance.

The Merge is exceptionally comfortable, with its soft and pliable construction. There is plenty of room to wear glasses, with only a few issues with exceptionally large-framed spectacles. However, this headset is the least breathable of the bunch and can cause your face to get sweaty after longer periods of use, even with its ventilation slits.

The Merge is user friendly.
The Merge is user friendly.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

User Friendliness


Our User Friendliness metric assessed each headset on how much work it took to get your smartphone set up in it, whether or not you are prone to inadvertently pressing buttons or if you have to remove the case from your phone to install it in the headset, and the amount of difficulty in attaching headphones. The Merge did very well in this metric,

The Merge provides plenty of space to easily reach the headphone jack for most smartphones, making it a breeze to connect. It is also one of the easiest headsets to install a mobile phone into, simply sliding it in from the top.

Very easy to slip your phone inside. The flexible material allowed...
Very easy to slip your phone inside. The flexible material allowed phones with cases to fit easily.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

We also had zero issues with buttons being pressed accidentally. There is also plenty of room for your case to remain on the phone when using it in this headset.

The Merge is very easy to put on.
The Merge is very easy to put on.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Ease of Setup


We based Ease of Setup assessments on the amount of work it took to set up the hardware, configure the software, and the system requirements to make the VR system run properly. The Merge did extremely well here.

It is only necessary to remove the Merge from its packaging and adjust the lenses to get the hardware ready to go. Once that is completed, all that remains is to download the desired app(s) from the Merge Miniverse and you are finished. This headset works with all Cardboard-compatible phones.

Value


The Merge is an alright value, as it is the best discount headset for frequent use.

Conclusion


The Merge is a great option when shopping for kids and teens or if you are looking for an inexpensive VR headset that is still comfortable enough to wear for longer periods. This headset has a wider range of compatible phones and is the best VR headset that we have tested that is compatible with iPhones.

The Merge virtual reality device is well-suited for kids, but not so...
The Merge virtual reality device is well-suited for kids, but not so much for adults.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

David Wise and Austin Palmer