We’re still a long way off from VR being considered a true part of mainstream gaming – out of all of my gamer friends, I’m the only person who actually owns a headset – but it’s definitely growing in popularity. This is in no small part down to the ever-expanding range of accessories being designed to make VR gaming that little bit smoother and more immersive.
Kiwi Design specialises in creating such accessories. They offer a variety of products ranging from weighted controller attachments that will boost your VR workouts to improved head straps. It’s worth noting, however, that the majority of their offerings are only compatible with the Meta Quest 2.
Extended Controller Grips
Since there’s not quite as much to talk about with the controller grips, that’s where I’m going to start. Don’t get me wrong, they’re practical and have definitely improved my VR sessions, but they’re not exactly a technological marvel.
The controller grips are made primarily from soft, textured silicone that gives that little bit of extra traction so they don’t feel like they’re going to fly out of your hands. They feature an extended design, wrist strap, and memory foam hand strap that can be easily adjusted by the pull-string to account for a wide range of hand sizes. They’re comfortable to hold too, even during an extended VR session.
Fitting the grips is as easy as slipping the controllers inside and fastening them up, and since the design takes the placement of the battery compartment into account, you don’t have to worry about removing the grips every time you need to replace the batteries in your controller.
Once I’d adjusted the hand strap, the controllers felt a lot more comfortable in my hands. They felt a lot more secure too. I felt like I had a lot more control with the grips attached and can’t see myself going back to using the controllers without them. I just wish that the cut-out on the front was a little bit bigger because the grip encroached on the buttons and joystick a little too much for my liking.
Battery Head Strap
One of the main reasons I upgraded from the original PlayStation VR to the Meta Quest 2 was the lack of wiring that could trip me up, but the obvious downside of a wireless headset is the need to charge it. The battery of a single charge – around 2-3 hours – is probably enough for most people, but the Battery Head Strap from Kiwi Design features a built-in 6400mAh battery that adds an extra 2.5-5 hours on top. You don’t have to charge them separately either – once the strap is fitted, the Quest and the battery head strap will charge simultaneously.
I’ll admit that replacing the head strap was a little daunting at first, but in all honesty, the hardest part was actually removing the old head strap. Once that was done, attaching the new strap was as easy as just snapping everything into place. The instruction booklet gives you a step-by-step guide on how to do it, so as long as you follow the steps in the right order, you shouldn’t have any problems. I was a little light-handed at first since I didn’t want to break anything, but once I started to apply a little more pressure, things clicked into place easily.
I was expecting the head strap to be awkward and uncomfortable – it certainly looks bulky – but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s made from an eco-friendly polymer material with advanced thermal protection, so in terms of quality, it both looks and feels good. In many ways, it felt more comfortable than the original head strap. It was heavier, sure, but the adjustable padded strap and head cushion meant that not only did I feel less pressure on my head than I did with the original, but it also felt a lot more secure.
The Quest itself is a very top-heavy piece of tech, and I’d always feel that tension in my forehead after playing, but the battery incorporated into this new head strap acts almost like a counterbalance, spreading the weight out more evenly. I felt much more grounded, and with a built-in hinge, I was able to lift the headset up if I needed to without having to take it off. This is good for a quick check of your surroundings, but it is also supposed to benefit users with glasses – I can’t comment on that myself, but I can see how it would give that little bit of extra room.
The final piece of kit I was sent was the clip-on headphones, which for me, have been particularly useful. I don’t like using the VR with wired earphones – the wires can get in the way and become tangled – and the minor lag that can come with wireless earphones can break that sense of immersion that the Quest aims to deliver. Normally, I just play with the sound blasting out of the Quest’s speakers, but this isn’t ideal when there are other people around whom you might be disrupting.
These headphones are a pretty good compromise. There’s still more wiring than I’d like – the headset starts to get pretty busy once they’re clipped on – but they don’t actually get in the way, and they certainly don’t dangle uselessly whenever you remove the headset. The earcups are soft and padded, so they’re comfortable to wear, and they’re very adjustable so you can find that perfect fit for optimal sound, but you can also lift them up to make the headset easier to take off.
With 40mm audio drivers, the sound quality is pretty impressive for the price, especially when you’re playing music-based games, like Beat Saber. They bring the sound closer to you and really help with that feeling of immersion. Connecting them can be a little fiddly, but it’s actually a fairly straightforward process. You just plug them into the headset’s jack and clip them on and you’re good to go.
It’s worth doing a little bit of research before you buy them though. They’ve been designed to fit both the Kiwi head straps and the Quest 2 elite head strap, so the fit might not be as good on other third-party headsets. This is stated on the product info page along with the invitation to consult them if you’re unsure.
VR gaming is enjoyable with or without the bells and whistles, so the accessories from Kiwi Design aren’t necessarily going to appeal to the casual enthusiast. After spending upwards of £299 on the headset, you’re not going to want to fork out for a new head strap or controller grips if you only plan to use it every now and again.
For frequent users, however, they’re seriously worth looking into. Not only does the head strap improve the performance of the quest by boosting its battery, but it is also a lot more comfortable, alleviating some of the pressure that comes with wearing the headset, and the hand grips add that little bit of extra traction for a secure grip regardless of hand size.
The head strap and earphones can be bought separately if you’re only interested in one of them or want to invest gradually, but it’s cheaper to buy them as a package deal, and if I’m being honest, the two work together well to create a comprehensive experience.
Whilst the accessories from Kiwi Design aren’t an essential purchase, and you can definitely get the most of the Quest without them, they’re worth looking into if you have the cash to spare and want some quality accessories at a comparatively reasonable price.