How about an unbreakable comb? A nylon travel tote? A loofah soaked in pheromones? No. This holiday season’s pervasive AXE bodywash bundles come with a VR headset, and while the headset in question isn’t the worst thing be thrown in for ‘free’ with a bag of teenage male-mist, it certainly isn’t the one your son/nephew/grandson really wants. But then again, you probably knew that deep down inside already anyway.
Now stocked on shelves in retail stores across the nation in preparation for the last-minute gift grab, Axe’s $20 gift set includes one 16 oz Axe Body Wash, one 4 oz Axe Daily Fragrance Body Spray, and one virtual reality headset. And no, it doesn’t even come with an exclusive smell-based experience—seriously a missed opportunity there.
The headset, which holds the user’s smartphone, is little more than a plastic shell with lenses which undoubtedly hooks into the massive, but decidedly low-ish quality Google Cardboard content store.
The humble Google Cardboard VR headset has been an easy enough gift to give in the years since the search engine giant freely released the design of the foldable cardboard device, making for a cheap ‘extra’ to stuff in anyone’s stocking on Christmas Eve. It’s a neat first device for anyone slightly curious about virtual reality – just don’t expect to spend more than a few minutes at a time messing around with 360 videos and a few simple games that use the headset’s single button for input.
After it was introduced in 2014, Chinese manufacturers flooded the market with these ‘Plastic Cardboards’, which on the surface seem to fill a use: headsets made of cardboard get greasy and dinged-up fairly quickly, so having a more robust plastic version helps keep them in good shape longer. While this may be true, it’s easy to confuse these plastic shells for high-quality mobile VR headsets like Google Daydream View or Samsung Gear VR which either use phones specifically designed for VR, or contain the parts necessary to create a low-latency VR experience so users don’t get sick.
So while a ‘Plastic Cardboard’ isn’t exactly the moral equivalent of getting a crappy off-brand LCD handheld game when you asked for a GameBoy for Christmas, don’t expect to elicit the squeals of joy a more capable headset might get like PSVR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets – a few of which are on sale at the moment.