When it comes to types of VR headsets, most fall into two camps: Either very high-end pricey models connected to a computer or video-game console, like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, or lower-end cheap models, like the Google Cardboard, $15, that rely on a smartphone.

However, there is a third type that's cheaper than the Oculus types but more capable than the low-end types.

Until now, Samsung’s Gear VR, $80, was the most prominent model. But the Gear VR has new competition: Google’s Daydream View, also about $80, goes on sale in stores today.

The View functions very much like the Samsung Gear. For instance, you can use the headset only with select phones. In this case, the View will work only with Google’s new Android-based phones, the Pixel and Pixel XL.

But there is one important difference: The View includes a small but very useful remote control. It’s about 4 inches long, an inch-and-a-quarter wide, and a half-inch deep, but it’s very lightweight and has just four buttons.  

We just got the Google Daydream View VR headset, and using a Google Pixel XL smartphone, here's what I found: 

This is a photo of the Google Daydream headset and controller.

Comfort and setup. Overall, I found setting up the VR headset and phone to be easy and straightforward. With the phone on, you just place the phone in the headset tray, with the screen toward you, and close the tray’s latch. Then you can put on the headset. You'll go through a few introductory screens in order to orient both the phone and the remote control to the headset. But the instructions were clear and didn't take very long to accomplish.

But because the View relies on a phone, I did accidentally hit the phone’s side-panel buttons while adjusting the front of the headset, which locked the phone’s screen. (I had to take off the headset, take out the phone, and unlock my phone's screen.) But for the most part, it’s easy to set up. I also hooked up a pair of earbuds to the Pixel XL, for a more immersive audio experience.

One thing I particularly liked was that the VR headset has a fabric—instead of plastic—exterior, which has a foamlike texture but feels nice and is comfortable to wear.

The headset is also lightweight and easy to adjust. (Today, the headset is available only in gray, but it will eventually be sold in crimson and light gray.) However, unlike the Samsung Gear VR, there is no diopter type of dial or control to adjust the focus of your smartphone. That would make for a better experience, particularly for those with bad eyes.

Remote control. This is a very useful addition, especially in comparison with the Samsung Gear VR. I found the remote control to be intuitive and very easy to use, no matter what apps I used, including games, videos, and photo-based apps. You can also reset the remote control by hitting the remote's home button without needing to take off the headset.

Using apps. Visually, I found the experience of using various apps to be very similar to the experience I had when using the Samsung Gear VR. The greatest difference was that I was able to navigate the interface and the apps via the remote control, which was very easy to use. For instance, I liked that I could easily stop and play videos using the remote.

One of my favorite parts of using this headset was experiencing my own panorama photos on Google Photos in a VR environment. (Luckily, I had dozens of panoramas already uploaded to my Google Photos.)

After installing the Google Photos app on the phone, I had to sign in. Then, while in the Daydream app (which I had loaded onto the Pixel XL via the Google Play store), I could click on a Google Photos icon and bring up my panoramas.

Even as still photos, the View really gave me a dramatic, immersive sense of being there, whether it was in front of my house, in Disneyland, or at the beaches of Long Island.

Bottom line. Although the Daydream View may not have the sharpness of high-end VR headsets, overall most consumers will find the experience of this headset to be easy to use, captivating, and enjoyable.