I love a good VR or AR experience. I've spent 24 hours with a Hololens helmet stuck to my head and I've racked up countless hours inside every VR headset released in the last five years. I am usually the first person to recommend a good VR experience to someone, and most of my friends own headsets after coming to one of my parties.
So please, I beg you, don't buy Nintendo's VR Labo Kit for your Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo's Labo Kits are incredibly cool. The software makes assembling these massively complex structures easy for any age, the games released for the platform so far are simple but ridiculously addictive and fun, and it just plain looks like a great time. The first three kits released so far are great for so many different reasons. And if you have the room in your house for your kid to stomp around like a giant robot, you absolutely should. It's a wonderful experience.
But this console has some fairly significant visual limitations, especially when not connected to a television. The 720p display on the Switch is fine when you're playing a game in a moving vehicle at arms length. It is not fine when holding it three inches from your face, which is typically not recommended anyway.
The VR implementation for this Labo kit is nearly identical to what you see with most smartphone-based headsets. The screen on the console becomes the screen in the headset. Only now, that 720p display has been cut in half, and you are now holding a big lens up to it so the image on the display can be warped to fill your field of view. To put this into perspective, the relatively low end Oculus Go headset offers 1280x1440 resolution. Per eye. That's considerably more than what you'd get with the Nintendo Switch in this VR mode. To say you could see the pixels in this display is something of an understatement.
It's also worth pointing out that Nintendo's portable console is pretty heavy by mobile device standards these days. Phone-based VR headsets get a little tiresome to hold and use for more than a few minutes without a head strap, and using a head strap with this Switch set up is a guaranteed trip to the chiropractor if you were to use it for more than a few minutes.
There's also some basic hygiene to consider. Nintendo sees this as a shareable product, in fact here's how the company sees this from its press release:
Nintendo Labo: VR Kit encourages passing around the Toy-Con creations among a group of people so everyone in the room can easily join in on the fun.
The entire outside of this set up is make of the same kind of cardboard as the rest of the Labo lineup. That means when you press your face against the cardboard outer edge of this headset, it's touching your skin. There's no good way to clean things like sweat and oil from cardboard, which quickly makes passing this around an excited room of kids a gross proposition. Nintendo does have a plastic body holding the lenses is in place, which can be more easily cleaned, but most of the parts that touch your face are not made of this material.
There's no denying this kit, and its expansions, look very cool. It's not difficult to imagine kids getting very excited about this, and parents seeing the $80 price tag for the starter kit as considerably less expensive than an Oculus Go or PlayStation VR. But it's difficult to imagine a worse trade-off for your money in this situation. The headset is going to be heavy, uncomfortable in several ways, and it's not terribly likely to last particularly long under heavy use without getting squishy and gross.
Please save yourself the frustration, and leave this VR kit on the shelf.
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