New foam Merge VR headset launches today for pre-order, running Google Cardboard

Thanks to Google Cardboard, VR has become much cheaper for beginners who want to test the platform. Merge VR is the latest startup that wants to offer a headset to newbies, though the firm has avoided the use of cardboard for the headset in favor of foam.

The purple polycarbonate headset offers more comfort than a cardboard shell, which should be good for extended gaming or watching a movie. There is also a small container near the front of the headset to fit your smartphone, used to beam VR content into your eyes.

You can also buy a remote similar to the Wii remote, which lets users control games, switch channels, and move around the user interface. The remote is made of the same foam material, and comes in black. The remote will integrate with all apps on Merge VR’s own ecosystem, but will be incompatible with most Google Cardboard apps until developers add support for it.

Remotes tend to reduce the potential motion sickness of virtual reality, since by using them, the user doesn’t have to continuously move their head to interact with the game.

Merge VR revealed the headset at E3 2015 earlier in the year, but we haven’t heard much since. The news that pre-orders start today, with a November 15 release date, confirms that the company hasn’t given up on the cheap virtual reality project.

The headset will be available on Amazon for $80, and the remote will be available for an undetermined price. Merge VR is also launching in the UK with video game retailer Game UK, costing £50. Merge VR is more expensive than Google Cardboard’s base model, which costs $30, but the headset offers more comfort as well as an ecosystem of apps and games.

Correction on 11-10-2015 by Malarie Gokey: The original version of this article stated that the VR headset comes with the controller, but that is incorrect. The article has been changed to reflect that Merge VR sells the headset and controller separately. 

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