Accessories for virtual reality (VR) headsets have existed for years but it wasn’t until the launch of Meta Quest 2 that the market really began to explode. Gmw3 reviewed VR Cover’s selection back in 2020 and now we’ve got our hands on several of rival KIWI Design’s products. For this review roundup, gmw3 will be testing the Controller Grips, the VR Weight Dumbbell, and the Upgrade Elite Strap.
KIWI Design offers quite the assortment of accessories for Meta Quest 2 but it’s these three that gmw3 reckons are the most useful, each providing their own upgrades to the Quest 2 experience.
Controller Grips Cover
By themselves the Quest controllers are perfectly engineered devices for VR interaction yet there’s always been one singular problem, they’re too smooth. Even with the wrist strap on playing really active VR games like Beat Saber or Ragnarock meant desperately trying to make sure the controllers don’t slip away due to the lack of grip when my hands get sweaty.
So a solution like the Controller Grips Cover offers a solution, a rubberised housing that not only protects the controllers but also provides grip. The covers achieve this in several ways; you’ve got the textured material first and foremost, then there’s the strap that goes over the back of your hand (a la Valve Index) and finally the wrist strap for extra security.
The combination of all three makes for a really solid experience, I’m never worried about losing – or suddenly letting go – of the controllers midway through a song or hectic battle. There is a bit more faff involved in their use rather than quickly grabbing the non-accessorized controllers but that’s never concerned me, it’s nice having that extra security.
One other feature which needs mentioning is the hinged battery cover. Unlike VR Cover’s Controller Grips that require complete removal to change the battery, there’s none of that issue here. Plus the kit comes with little plastic straps to wrap around the battery to make removal simple. Clever stuff.
The only real downside that I noticed was the slightly increased thickness of the controllers. This meant I’d lost a bit of thumb reach when trying to press the B/Y buttons. Not by much, maybe 1-2mm but enough that I noticed and would likely be an issue for smaller hands.
Honestly, after several weeks of using these things they have stayed on my Quest 2 controllers since they arrived, they’re now one of my favourite additions to my Quest setup.
VR Weight Dumbbell
Now here’s an interesting piece of equipment, actual dumbbells to make your controllers heavier. Why would you want to adjust the weight of each controller? For fitness of course. There’s been an explosion of VR energetic/fitness apps for Meta Quest 2, whether that’s purely rhythm titles or more fitness-oriented videogames such as FitXR, Supernatural or Les Mills Bodycombat. And whilst they’re good on their own, if you’re interested in increasing the intensity then KIWI Design’s VR Weight Dumbbell is an easy solution.
The main housing fits around the front tracking ring portion without obscuring the tracking sensors from the Quest’s cameras – so no loss in tracking. As shown in the image below, the dumbbells can also be used in conjunction with a grip cover, making it far easier to use the weights at their heaviest setting.
But before getting to the heaviest setting there’s plenty of weight to play around with first. Apart from the main housing, the set comes supplied with 6 x 50g metal weights (three for each controller) plus an additional six plastic spacers (each weighs approximately 5g). When using just one weight in each controller, to prevent movement a couple of spacers can be added to fix it in place without too much additional weight.
Thus giving you plenty of versatility when adjusting each controller’s weight. The VR Weight Dumbbell takes a standard 150g controller increasing it to around 346g with all three metal weights inside (or 420g with the Grip Cover).
In use I found the dumbbells to be a very mixed experience, particularly at the heavier end. As you’d expect, adding more weight to the front of the controllers creates an imbalance, so games like Beat Saber became far less natural when trying to flow between each strike. On the other hand, Les Mills Bodycombat was by far a more natural fit (sort of like having the weight of boxing gloves), as the added weight to each punch required increased effort. By the end of even a short 5-10 minute workout, my arms and shoulders were feeling it!
The VR Weight Dumbbell isn’t an essential accessory by any means, certainly filling a very niche section of the market. The components all feel very well made and fitted together perfectly, so there were never any installation issues. It really does come down to how much you work out in VR. If you pay a monthly membership to any of the VR fitness apps then these dumbbells are for you.
Upgraded Elite Strap for Meta Quest 2
In my original review of the Meta Quest 2, I said I liked the supplied soft strap, it was functional to use and fairly comfortable to wear. A year and a half later and the soft strap hasn’t been anywhere near my Quest 2 for a long time, I just can’t use the thing anymore. I tend to use Meta’s own Elite Strap with Battery Pack for the added gameplay time but I understand it’s not exactly a cheap accessory. So if you’re looking to upgrade your Quest 2 experience, KIWI Design’s third-party alternative is a good shout.
After buying a $300 USD/£300 GBP VR headset the last thing you might want to do is then spend money on a new head strap. Trust me, it’s the next purchase you should make, because as VR titles like Resident Evil 4, Green Hell VR, or Song in the Song provide ever-larger experiences you’ll want a system that hugs your head like snuggling into a pillow.
Not to be confused with Meta’s own Elite Strap, the KIWI Design “Upgraded Elite Strap Compatible with Quest 2” (they really need a better name) performs a very similar job but with a couple of additional improvements at a slightly cheaper price.
Most noticeable are those arm hinges right next to Quest 2’s speaker output. Being far more flexible than the Quest 2’s main front hinges, I could place the headset on my face and then smoothly bring the back of the head strap down for a secure fit. Now here’s the extra bonus. While the Quest’s passthrough function is useful, there are times when you need to lift the headset, which the KIWI Elite Strap manages with ease (as shown in the image above). Those 52° hinges enable a quick and easy motion to dip in and out of VR without having to readjust the main strap.
When it comes to comfort the KIWI Elite Strap has a padded back and top strap covered in lovely soft PU leather. This makes the strap far more comfortable than Meta’s own version, distributing the headset weight better so it’s not so front heavy. The strap also extends a small amount further than its more expensive rival, which makes fitting around my big head much easier.
I’ve been quite torn these past few weeks between my Elite Strap with Battery Pack and the KIWI model, purely because the latter fits so well.
KIWI Design’s Controller Grips, VR Weight Dumbbell, and Upgraded Elite Strap have really impressed in terms of their build quality and functionality. It can be tricky with so many products available via retailers like Amazon to know which to choose from but for once – this time at least – those positive customer ratings are correct.
I didn’t exactly take a hammer to test durability, yet as anyone who’s played a bit of VR knows, you’ll inevitably hit a wall, chair or something you thought wasn’t nearby. The dumbbells stood up to these knocks, the controller grips survived my sweaty mitts and the strap didn’t snap! So a win-win in my book.