Google Cardboard is a pretty cool concept. But making your own headset for the novelty of a handful of VR apps is a daunting task, if only because it requires some very specific lenses and magnets inside all that cardboard. LG is hoping to alleviate that concern, at least for new buyers of its G3 flagship phone, by giving them a free Cardboard headset. Even better, it's not actually made out of cardboard - it's good old-fashioned plastic, which should stand up to a few more beatings. Of course that messes with the name somewhat - maybe they should call it Google Plastic? No, that sounds like a credit card.

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Anyway, the LG promotion will "roll out this month in select markets," presumably with some kind of proof-of-purchase redemption system. The early photos of LG's custom housing look pretty slick; it's essentially a cheaper version of Samsung's Gear VR, which uses a similar case/lens setup for the Galaxy Note 4. The three-piece system holds the LG G3 (and only the G3, unlike the somewhat universal Cardboard design) at an optimum distance from the dual lenses, with cutouts for the phone's camera and speakers to allow apps to use them.

This is a pretty obvious counter to Samsung's VR push, small as that is, but it's a smart move to partner with Google and leverage the work that's already been done. It's also a neat perk to add to the already-solid G3, especially since it's so easy to compare that phone to a flagship like the Note 4. We'll have to wait and see if LG's offer extends to phones sold through American carriers, but I'm betting it will.

Press Release

SEOUL & MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 10, 2015 ― LG Electronics (LG) and Google are making virtual reality (VR) more accessible to mainstream consumers. LG today announced a free VR for G3 giveaway for customers who purchase new LG G3 smartphones. LG’s VR for G3 works with Google Cardboard and enables G3 owners to experience a variety of VR-compatible apps and games that they can download on the Google Play store.

Unlike other head-mounted VR devices that are designed with their own processors and displays, VR for G3 takes advantage of the visual and sound capabilities of G3 to offer a ­­lighter and more convenient solution. Thanks to the LG G3’s class-leading Quad HD display, VR for G3 is able to provide users with much sharper image quality for a smoother, more realistic VR experience.

VR for G3 features a unique design that leverages the G3’s signature Rear Key layout, compared to other smartphones where the volume rockers are located on the side of the phone. This unique design also means VR for G3 takes full advantage of the flagship phone’s 1W speaker with Boost AMP to provide richer, clearer sound effects that complement the rich visuals. For a more personal experience, VR for G3 can be combined with a Bluetooth headsets such as LG Tone Infinim™ for wireless enjoyment.

The design of VR for G3 is based on the blueprint for Google Cardboard, available online for home DIY fans. Theneodymium ring magnet on the side of the VR for G3 works with the magnetic gyroscope sensor in the G3 to select applications and scroll through menus without touching the display. VR for G3 requires no assembly other than inserting the phone in the viewer.

“While still in its infancy, this is just the beginning of the virtual reality movement which until recently was expensive and inaccessible to everyday consumers,” said Chris Yie, vice president and head of marketingcommunications at the LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “By leveraging Google Cardboard, not only are regular consumers able to participate in the VR experience, we’ll be able to introduce this technology to future developers who may one day show us how VR can be used to improve our lives.”

“With Google Cardboard, we wanted to create more immersive and delightful experiences for anyone on their mobile devices,” said Andrew Nartker, Product Manager for Google Cardboard. “We are excited about VR for G3, and the rich ecosystem of developers and manufacturers who are innovating with Google Cardboard and making VR more easily accessible.”

The VR for G3 promotion will roll out this month in select markets. Purchasers of LG G3 buyers can also download a free VR game, Robobliteration, using the in-box QR code.