Review of Powis: A step up from plain cardboard

Powis (8)
Powis virtual reality headset.

I got my Powis virtual reality headset in the mail this weekend.

Although the main body is made out of cardboard, it’s a couple of steps up from a standard Google Cardboard headset. The cardboard itself is sturdier, there’s a comfortable rubber edge where the headset meets your face, and each of the lenses can be independently moved closer or farther from the smartphone screen.

Powis headset, on left, and Google Cardboard v1 headset, on right.
Powis headset, on left, and Google Cardboard v1 headset, on right.

There’s also a layer of padding to keep the phone in place.

The headset costs $30 on both the company site and on Amazon, and comes in three different colors.

Powis virtual reality headsets.
Powis virtual reality headsets. (Image courtesy PowisCustom.)

I got the one in blue because it was the cheapest. The “tan pebble” and “red alligator” versions were $40 each.

I do agree that these are nice and sturdy. The Powis headset is very easy to use — the outside flap is just held on by Velcro. Open it up, put your phone on the padding, and close it again.

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The QR code — necessary to calibrate your Google Cardboard-compatible applications — is right there on the inside of the cover, and there’s a capacitative touch button on top in a convenient spot, if you’re right-handed.

There are much better headsets on the market for $30 or $40. The Mattel View-Master, for example, is a very nice set and it’s just $25. I also like the foldable AntVR headset for $35.

Where the Powis makes sense is for branded company headsets.

Customized Powis headsets. (Image courtesy PowisCustom.)
Customized Powis headsets. (Image courtesy PowisCustom.)

The company’s primary business is custom cases for tablets and smartphones, so they know how to customize things.

For custom-branded viewers, the Powis definitely makes a lot of sense. It’s a nice, sturdy design, and doesn’t look as cheap as a standard cardboard case.

I think it’s closest competitor is the Dscvr set from I Am Cardboard, which is also $30.

Dscvr -- set
(Image courtesy I Am Cardboard.)

Of the two, Dscvr is sturdier, is all-plastic so it’s easier to clean, and comes in a nice case, but the Powis offers better branding opportunities, is slightly easier to use, and has adjustable lenses. I would recommend the Dscvr if the headsets are meant to be shared by visitors, and the Powis to give away to customers.

Maria Korolov