4.0 out of 5 stars
By Dennis M. Wierzbicki - Reviewed in the United States on August 25, 2017
UPDATE: Almost great, fit an issue, it's not cheap. New portable VR HMD's MUCH cheaper, with many of the same features
NOTE: I received this device at a reduced price in return for a detailed review. This is going to be a very in-depth review, as you would expect for something as complex and feature-filled as the Royole Moon, and as should be expected from a computer/TV accessory that costs as much, if not more, than many 4K TV’s. Bear with me – the review might also be a bit disjointed. There just so much to cover with a device as sophisticated as the Moon. According to Royole: “Our goal with Moon was simple - deliver a truly immersive, 3D movie watching or gaming experience that could be enjoyed anytime and anywhere. The idea was to create a brand-new 3D virtual mobile theater from the ground up, with ultra-high-resolution displays, top-quality noise-cancelling headphones, a world's first foldable design, and our own operating system to connect you to unlimited movies and music.”. I think they succeeded, for the most part, in achieving this goal. PHYSICAL LOOK AND FEEL: This is as good looking as a head-mounted-display (HMD) can be. I mean, you do look more than a little goofy with ANY HMD mounted to your head and face, but all things considered, The Moon looks as good as it can look. I’ll have no issue wearing it on an airplane during a long flight. I have the Black version, which means it’s a combination of black, chrome and tan. The materials are high impact plastic and brushed metal, and it not only looks good, but has a solid feel to it. The Moon system is made up of the headset itself, which looks like a normal stereo headset mated with a virtual reality head-mounted display. Note: the Moon is NOT a virtual reality headset. More on this later. The entire device can be folded into itself, but it’s not exactly small. Folded up, and placed in the cloth “case” provide, the Moon still took up most the volume in my laptop bag. THE BOX: In addition, the Moon uses a small, smartphone-sized box on which is a 32GB hard drive (to install apps, and content), the battery and connection spots to hook up external devices, and to connect your Moon to the box. You are provided with two input connection adapters, one for an HDMI cable, and one for a USB cable. This box also hosts the Moon OS operating system, discussed below, and the power button. A 32GB hard drive isn’t huge, and I understand Royole is working on a 128GB device. Might have been nice to provide the ability to add an external thumb drive or micro-SD card, to expand storage. You’re gonna run out of space pretty quickly if you download more than a few HD videos. FIT/COMFORT AND ADJUSTMENT: The “immersion mask” that shipped with my Moon was almost constantly uncomfortable. It pinched the bridge of my nose, and while this wasn’t painful, it DID cut off my ability to breathe. Not cool. I tried over and over again to adjust the head strap and the tightness of the mask against my face, moved the Moon up and down, and could not get a comfortable fit. Ultimately, I contacted Royole customer support, and they told me there were two versions of the mask, one with and one without a full nose. I mistakenly told them I had the mask with the fill nose, because the headset itself has a full nose, so they sent me another mask without the nose. Good for them, but bad for me. Same problem, of course. The thing pinching my nose is the headset itself, not the mask. Between your eyes and the screen are two aspherical lenses, which allows the Moon to simulate that you’re some distance from the screen. Each eye has simple adjustments for diopter (+2 to -7) and interpupillary distance (the distance between your eyes). I found it pretty straightforward to adjust both of these things, but I also found that I was constantly readjusting both settings. I’d take the suggestion Royole make in their documentation to make these adjustments using the home screen menu text rather than trying to adjust focus and pupil distance with video content. In addition, the position of your eyes relative to the aspherical lenses is extremely important. One minor bump up or down of the headset can throw the image in or out of focus. I have fairly long eyelashes, and when I tightened the immersion mask against my face enough to seal out ambient light, and to avoid it slipping down my face, I found my eyelashes occasionally hitting the aspherical lenses. It’s also been fairly warm and humid outside, and I have experienced a bit of fogging on the aspherical lenses that required taking the Moon off my face until the fogging cleared up. UPDATE 8/30/17: I found that hanging the Moon off my eyebrow worked better than scrunching it against your face. Just use the upper edge of the immersion mask, and tighten it against the ridge over your eyebrows. Also, try running the upper strap over the back crown (the part where your hair makes a little hurricane-looking thingy). This was an improvement for me IMAGE QUALITY: Considering the fact that you’re viewing 2x1080p AMOLED screens placed only a couple inches in front of your eyeballs, the image quality is remarkable. In 2D, there was no noticeable screen door effect. In 3D (see below), there was some noticeable mesh in the areas that were out of the plane of sharpness, especially in dark scenes. To be fair, though, this is the same thing that can be seen with most 3D TV’s, so it’s a function of the content, not the display. Royole says the Moon replicates an 800” screen viewed from 40 ft. Well, I don’t know about that, but it is a BIG looking screen. Relative to our 55” 4K main TV, it looks HUGE. There is only one picture adjustment I could find, and it’s located in the Moon OS home screen, under “Settings/Display/Brightness”, and there are 3 settings, oddly named “Soft/Normal/Bright”. Not sure what “soft” brightness is. To adjust the screen size, you need to go into Moon OS, and under display, use the right earpiece touchscreen. See the photo included. SOUND QUALITY: The Moon employs Active Noise Cancelation. As a long-time owner of a Bose Quiet Comfort headset, I can say the Moon is almost as good as the Bose. I wish there was a way to turn off the ANC, but there isn’t. As soon as the unit is turned on, the ANC is turned on. Overall sound quality is excellent. Crisp highs, solid dialogue and decent bass (for a headset). They sound almost as good as my Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7GM SonicPro cans, which is pretty decent praise, as these cost $200 alone. To my almost-60 year old ears, the Moon sounds great. LIGHT TIGHTNESS: With the immersion mask in place, and with the headset cinched down tightly, the Moon does a good job of cutting out ambient light. I have watched in bed, with my bedside lamp on, and noticed only the slightest amount of light leaking in. In a fully lit room, again, a very small amount of light makes its way into the Moon. MOON OS: While I think having an OS is a big deal, and this lets you do quite a bit with the Moon, the fact that It’s “Android Light” means it’s ALMOST like Android, but not quite. At the same price level as a fully-loaded, no contract Android phone, you’d think it would just have Android. Why do I care? Well, having a facsimile, or custom, version of Android means you’re limited in what content you can download from the regular places, like the Google Play store. Another point worth noting is the Moon allows WiFi connection for services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and such. Unfortunately, it’s 2.4 Ghz only. Here’s something that I found out through trial and error: while in Moon OS, you can delete files by clicking and holding the right earpiece touch screen while selecting a file. A drop down menu will appear. Navigating around is pretty intuitive. Being “almost” Android means you’ll be missing many of the system features you’re used to. The right ear piece is a touch screen, and you control the volume, and navigation, with this screen. All works well, until you try to input text…then it REALLY is tough. I found an old Bluetooth mouse, and connected it to the Moon, and this made ALL the difference. Much MUCH easier. I recommend you do not wait; do not pass Go; do not collect $200 – go out and immediately find or buy a Bluetooth mouse to use with your Moon. Do it! A mouse can even be operated effectively unseen, while you’re wearing your Moon. Oh, also, there is a Web Browser that works OK. For the most part, it displayed content well enough. I found a few Java sites that didn’t fully work, such as Vimeo, where I couldn’t get the video to go full screen, and again, typing in URL’s and passwords is very tedious; made a litte less so using a mouse. DOWNLOADING: whenever you need to download content (whether to the Moon directly, or to whatever it is connected to, like a PC of PlayStation), I end up wishing there was a way to mirror what’s on the Moon’s screen. These downloads can take a LONG time, so I end up taking off the Moon and setting it down, putting on my glasses, then continuously going back, taking my glasses off, holding it up to my face to see the progress, putting it down again, putting my glasses back on…over and over and over. In addition, you need to ensure your Moon is plugged in, as your battery will be stressed. If you’re downloading to a separate device, like a PC or game console, you can always hook it up to a monitor while downloading. Speaking of downloading (we’ll get the this a little when discussing installing Apps), you can connect your Moon to your Windows PC with the included Micro USB adapter and a USB cable (Mac users like me need to employ the Android File Transfer app to allow Mac OS to recognize the Moon), and it appears like a hard drive. Have video you want to download to the Moon? Just put it in the “Videos” folder on your Moon, then navigate there once you’re wearing the Moon. PLAYING GAMES: PS3 3D Games: The only 3D game I have is Gran Turismo 5 and 6. In 3D, it looks OK, but appears to be “down-sampled” from 1080p x 1 screen to 2 x720p, and it shows. Think I prefer one 1080p screen, but honestly, I haven’t spent much time in GT. Regular PS3 games: I played several FPS games, and a couple fantasy games. I like the way they look on the Moon. You’re immersed in a way a simple screen can’t replicate. However, I have found that first-person-shooter games, like Brothers in Arms, or Call of Duty, gave me a headache after an hour or so. Might have been a coincidence. Will investigate further. PC: X-Plane 11. I have a three-screen flight simulator that runs X-Plane 11, with a 50” 1080p front screen showing the view through the windshield, and 2x32” 1080p side screens showing the view out the side windows, Compared to this setup, the Moon seems lacking. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still immersive, and for most anyone playing this (or almost any other game), the Moon will be a MUCH better experience than any single screen system. There is no perceptible lag, the image is sharp, and you feel like you’re in the middle of the story. The only thing I can imagine would be better would be a Virtual Reality headset like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive., neither of which I currently own. WATCHING DIRECTV, GENERAL: DIRECTV 3D CONTENT: I rented the 3D movie “King Arthur; Legend of the Sword”. In order for the DirecTV DVR to recognize your Moon as being 3D capable, you’ll need to connect the Moon, select the Red/Green 3D mode, then turn on your DirecTV DVR. WATCHING DVD’S I’ve watched a number of Blu-Ray DVD’s on my Moon, and they have all been enjoyable. Picture quality is very good; sharp and excellent colors. Blu-Ray 3D: The only 3D player I have is my old PlayStation 3, and having discovered this capability, our PS3 has a new lease on life. Hold onto your hats, cuz this is where the Moon REALLY shines! 3D on a home screen is OK; always seemed so much like a gimmick we’ve never felt the need to buy a 3D capable TV or DVD player. Having to wear the glasses is inconvenient, but with the Moon, you’re ALREADY wearing glasses, and the image is breathtaking. Easily the best implementation of 3D I’ve experienced anywhere, including at an IMAX. I’ve viewed a couple of IMAX titles, “Under The Sea” and “Deep Sea”. Both were spectacular. . In “Under the Sea”, a potato grouper pops out of the screen and looks like he’s coming right at you. Yikes!. I also viewed “Hugo” and “Life of Pi” on Blu-Ray 3D. WOW is an understatement. I actually found myself blinking and flinching when things were flying at me ROYOLE LOUNGE: This is Royole’s attempt at setting up a content portal. It doesn’t contain a heck of a lot of films, but what it DOES have is a number of 3D titles, and the big benefit is you can download these titles directly to the hard drive on your Moon. So what, you say? Well, none of the other streaming services carry 3D movies, so even with those who allow downloading of movies and TV shows, you won’t be able to get 3D content from them, but you can from the Royole Lounge. The Moon comes with a voucher for 3 movies, and I’ve used all three (One was the amazing “The Walk” in 3D), and I’m not sure how much they charge for additional movies. I’ll investigate and report back here in an update. I viewed “The Walk” in 3D downloaded to my PlayStation 3 and downloaded directly to the Moon Box from the Royole Lounge, and the Royole Lounge version was much better. BTW, speaking of “The Walk”, the experience watching this movie rocked my world. I actually felt vertigo with Phillipe stepped out onto the wire. My stomach sank, I started feeling sweaty…the whole deal. I’m keeping this movie on my Moon permanently, as a way of demo-ing how great a home 3D experience can be. Speaking of downloaded 3D content, like other places, it’s only 720px2 at its highest resolution (you need to specify this before downloading, in the Royole Lounge), but the quality is much better than even 3D movies from the PlayStation Store. I’m guessing Sony compresses this content, even that stuff that’s downloaded, not streamed, and the Royole Lounge doesn’t compress as much. DOWNLOADING FILES TO THE MOON BOX: Like mentioned earlier, the Box shows up as a hard drive when connected via a USB cable. If you’re using a Mac, you’ll need the Android File Transfer app in order to see the Box. COMPUTER MONITOR: I tried using the Moon as a computer monitor via the HMDI connection. It was OK, but honestly, not being able to see my keyboard makes this a non-starter. I suppose you could use this connection to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, or YouTube, but the Moon Box allows the installation of these apps, so why bother? LOADING AND USING APPS. It’s possible to download Android apps to the Moon, but It’s not simple. You need to find the appropriate APK (using something like the APKPURE site), drag the APK into the download folder while the Moon box is connected to your PC/Mac, then navigate on the Moon to select the APK file, and then the Moon will install the app. Pretty convoluted. Plus, there is no App Manager on the Moon, like there is on Android phones. Netflix: For some online services, all you have to do is use the Moon OS Web Browser, go to the service, and you will be prompted to install the app. This worked great for Netflix, and the installation went without a hitch. A nice feature with Netflix (and Amazon Prime – see below) is you can download a lot of the content to your device, which is essential if you’re gonna be anywhere without internet connectivity, or where your internet is too slow to stream video, like an airplane. an automobile, or even a hotel. Nice. Amazon Prime: I tried multiple times to navigate to the Amazon Prime Video URL to install the Amazon Prime Video app. You have to install an intermediate app called Amazon Underground, then try to install the Amazon Prime Video app. However, I could NOT get the APV app to install, and I tried at least 10 times. It would always get hung up at one point or another in the process. Even when it successfully downloaded the app, it would halt at “Verifying” and never move any further. Eventually, I just went to APKPURE and did a manual install, as described earlier. Once I did this, APV worked great. Again, like Netflix, you can download video content directly to your Moon for offline viewing. YouTube: comes pre-installed on the Moon, but there is no way for you to sign into your account, so any subscriptions and such are out of your reach. I tried to install YouTube from APKPURE, but it would not work. I contacted Royole Customer Service, but haven’t gotten a reply from them on this topic. One place where the pre-installed YouTube app shined was viewing online YouTube 3D content, however, the only 3D content that I could get to work was Side By Side (SBS). NOT A VR HEADSET: The Moon is not a VR headset – period. There are no accelerometers or other means of sensing the position of your head. It’s an HD content viewing device. Sure you can use it to play non-VR games, but it’s not a VR headset. Have I mentioned this? THE MOON COMPANION APP: This theoretically allows you to reproduce the features of the Moon OS, but on your phone. This is of limited use, since you must take off the Moon to see your phone’s screen. One place it might be useful is inputting text and information. In this use, you can take off the Moon, use your phone to navigate the OS, and use your smartphone’s keyboard to input text, which would MUCH easier than trying to type with the clumsy touch screen on the right earpiece, but I have yet to figure out how to make this work. The app is also useful for taking screen shots of what is on the Moon’s screen, which I used in writing this review. CONCLUSION: I really, really like the Royole Moon. It’s not perfect, and loses one star for the fit issues. After a couple weeks of extensive use and testing, I still can’t get the thing to sit comfortably on my face. The viewing experience, when it works, is nothing short of stunning, especially with 3D content. As we all know, however, the heyday of 3D has passed, and less and less content is being offered, including movies, videos and games. Is the Moon worth $800? Honestly, this is only a little less than we paid earlier this year for our outstanding Samsung KS8000 55” 4K TV, and the Sammy is used by all members of the family, every day of every week. Considering this fact, the Moon is absolutely a luxury item. If you travel a lot (air or even train), or have kids who get bored easily on long car trips, the Moon would be a great device to bring along (though there are much cheaper alternatives for kids in your car that would probably make them just as happy). If you need to watch TV/Movies in private (sleeping spouse, roommate, etc), too, the Moon would be a good product to pick up. Sure you could watch TV with headphones, but the light of the TV can be pretty annoying to someone trying to sleep. In our household, the Moon is the only device capable of playing 3D content. It’s mine and mine alone, as my wife is vertigo and migraine prone, and I can guarantee either or both of these maladies would befall her should she don the Moon. I’ll keep using the Moon, and come back here from time to time to update this review. UPDATE 5/25/18: While it's not exactly Apples to Apples, I have to mention the fact that the Oculus Go and Lenovo Mirage Solo are now on the market. These two portable headsets allow viewing of prerecorded content, like the Moon, both have integral hard-drives, and operating systems, like the Moon, and both have high resolution displays. Where the Go and the Mirage Solo exceed the Moon include that they're are actual VR HMD's, and can play games, and have hand controllers. They also carry their hard drives integral to the HMD, so you don't have a dongle box hanging off your HMD like you do on the Moon. And...MOST OF ALL, the 32GB Oculus Go sells for $199, which is $600 LESS than the Moon. The Solo is more expensive, at $399, but it's a 64GB device, has a Micro SD card slot to add up to 256GB more storage, and is still HALF the price of the Moon. Again, not exactly an Apples to Apples comparison, and there are many, many more differences and areas where the Moon is superior to both the Solo and the Go for strictly content viewing, but the HUGE price difference makes a comparison important and pertinent.