Virtual Reality is no more distant future. It is right here for all those who wish to take the plunge and find themselves transported to the world that feels three-dimensional real and impacts straight to your senses. Samsung and Oculus debuted with their Gear VR headset almost a year ago. Now it’s called the “innovator edition” models, the original Gear VRs were specifically intended for early gamers and adopters. Pricey at $200 per headset, the technology was operational and designed just for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The Samsung Gear VR release date was hence announced (Nov. 27,2015) once the two companies released the first-ever consumer-ready version of the Gear VR. Virtual Reality after the decades of patience and waiting has finally gone into mainstream markets, and there is no better way to get started than buying the new Gear VR to get the little and mostly affordable taste of this prized and cherished experience.
Google Cardboard is a consumer initiative by the Giant developer company to drive and encourage the masses towards virtual reality. If the Cardboard offers a taste of VR, the Samsung Gear VR is truly a feast to bite into. The addition of a smartphone to a headset module can truly give a significantly engaging travel through distant lands, watching movies and shooting up spaceships in alien kingdoms. It can be used for hours together despite being someone who wears glasses. The controls are specific, intuitive and completely easy to grasp.
The only factor persists that it is only compatible with Samsung’s latest handsets. Also, this technology is not as aggravated and advanced when compared to the likes of the Oculus Rift, or even the biggies which include the HTC Vive Steam VR or PlayStation VR. The Gear VR makes for a great entry-level product into the ever expanding VR headset market for the everyday consumer. Already deployed with a Samsung phone? Then this is an absolute no-brainer and a definite buy in that case.
Samsung Gear VR review: What’s New?
Samsung VR is said to be about 19% lighter than its past iterations. The company never made any bones or pretensions about the fact that the Gear VR would be portable. It has always been a rather large headset which looks like a giant pair of ski goggles. But sticking to the promise of bettering their hardware design, the Samsung Gear has become lightweight than its previous models. The new version likewise is predominantly lighter and much more easy to use and setup, unlike the old chunky white plastic that was worn around the head straps.
The Gear VR is far less cumbersome to put on than its predeceasing headset models. To wear the headset, one needs to tie the headset to their head via a couple of elasticized Velcro straps. These straps are situated one around the back of the head and the other at the top, which is optional but gives a more secure and tight fit.
The virtual reality gaming experience is known to cause nausea, but that takes a little getting used to. Other than that, the headset fits more comfortably due to the soft foam padding around the eyes and the nose bridge. The Samsung Gear VR headset has a great upside that the new Gear VR is easily able to accommodate most types of glasses for those who will need the comfort to wear the headset over their glasses.
The focus wheel placed at the top of the Gear VR headset will allow the user to focus the display and match the perfect distance for your eyesight. For all those who know about Google’s revolutionary VR for everyone headset The Cardboard, the Samsung Gear VR has more to offer and is fancier looking.
The Gear VR has additional hardware to reduce latency, namely an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and proximity-based sensors, which together contribute to enhancing the overall performance of the Gear VR headset.
Samsung VR: Easy Setup
The Gear VR headset comes with stereoscopic lenses. To setup and get started with using your Samsung Smartphone with the Gear VR, you will have to snap the phone onto the front of the Gear VR so that the display faces the headset’s lenses. The user needs to dot the phone into a micro-USB dock on the left and then lock it in place over a plastic holder that is situated on the right-hand side of the headset.
This is the Samsung Gear VR’s biggest setback; it is only compatible with high-end virtual reality technology compatible Samsung phones: the Galaxy S6, the S6 Edge model ranges and the Note 5 to name the few mobile phones that have the hardware to support the VR experiences the Gear VR can offer. In the case of slightly larger handsets, the Gear VR has a toggle with which a user can easily slide the micro-USB dock to the left or right to accommodate the different sizes.
Samsung Gear VR: Headset
If you are looking for a superior quality VR display that transports you into a reality vision of the future, you might have to be a little disappointed. The Gear VR does not essentially have great display quality, the reason being that the phone’s screen is pressed up to your face. This is bound to cause a slight “screen door effect” where the user will start spotting individual pixels or a separation between pixel lines. The effect has been worked upon from the previous models down, but persists and is quite noticeable. The chances are that certain games with wider image display qualities will be bound to pixilated and games will not appear as sharp as you would prefer them to.
Summing up the display factor, a lot of it is dependent on the phone’s original display. The Samsung S6 Edge+ that has 1440 x 2560 Quad HD resolution might fit the bill the best, but it still did not prove as sharp enough when magnified with the Gear VR’s lenses.
Any virtual reality experience is good if it fits your budget. It is new and still developing to find its way towards mass usage. Once you start exploring the content on the Gear VR headset’s Oculus home page, it is bound to take you on a trip. The adrenaline pumping joy of viewing 360-degree video footage’s both in games and movies is not worth the miss. The fun part of using this device is it’s not only a thumb stick experience but also real. It is designed for an individual to dive into the world they are viewing and feel the reality immerging. You will find shooting at incoming drones as engaging as flying around on a Jetpack in Omega Agent.
Using a swivel chair or moving between positions is advisable to as to avoid suffering from neck strains. The entire prospects of the immersive VR environment coupled with the game’s clear and crisp sound add to the entirety of the experience.
If you are susceptible to motion sickness on boats or while traveling on winding roads, the initial time spent on the Gear VR could be somewhat nauseating, and you might have to keep taking a break after every 30 minutes or so.
At the end of the day, when considering battery life and hours of play, one need to understand that VR technology off a phone and headset is meant to consume battery. A significant 20% drop was seen after the first hour of usage, and then the phone was nearly dead after four to five hours tops. Do not keep your handset in VR mode for long, as it does occasionally get hot enough to overheat.
Samsung Gear VR Review: Controllers
A four-way directional touchpad on the right temple side of the headset is relegated to act like controllers by default. Users will find that the new consumer model is built in a more contoured way than the previous Gear VR models. A raised nub makes the whole control pad accessible and easier to use; the user can feel their way around to figure out the controls.
The volume rocker or regulator is located towards the front and a back button, which has been relocated slightly to the right for simpler receptiveness. Headphones are not available in the hardware unit parts, but external ones can be used for an enhanced and immersive virtual reality experience. The headset can be connected to the phone via Bluetooth, and a few games could benefit from the use of a dedicated gamepad controller, though not included with the headset.
Samsung Gear VR Review: Experience With Oculus Rift
The setup as discussed is pretty much a cake walk, once you have loaded your smartphone into the headset, you are almost ready to go and dive in the Gear’s VR experiences. As soon as you have your phone handset securely docked into its place, Oculus Home will automatically launch itself. The Oculus VR content portal has a variety of apps, movies, and games to choose from. Ideally, installing the Oculus app will be needed as the setup will prompt you to do so.
If you have not been staying in a cave and know that the future is going towards regressive technological development to support the Virtual Reality future, you should know the VR content available today has exponentially exploded in the past two years. It is more evident with the range in variety that is available on the Oculus store. Samsung and Oculus proudly have announced that about hundred apps and games are now available, with more heading and coming down the pipeline.
Samsung Gear VR vs. Google Cardboard, HTC Vive & Oculus Rift
Google’s Cardboard: This “Make at Home” VR rendition is not a bad idea. Costs close to nothing and it is dead easy, in fact, a fun process to setup. It does not offer the same degree of sophistication when compared to the Samsung Gear VR. It comes in closest competition with this Model. The Gear VR has straps that allow you to wear it for hours on end, additional onboard sensors to reduce latency, plus it has a dedicated touchpad for greater control. Gear VR is a full-fledged dive into virtual reality.
Gear VR’s performance doesn’t quite compare to the more advanced VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, the PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive. Samsung VR doesn’t have positional head tracking. So, things like, ducking behind walls or bending your head down to take a closer look at something on the ground, is not possible.
The other headsets like Oculus Rift and Vive are are more powerful. Thye are powered by high-end gaming rigs while the PlayStation VR will harness the computational prowess of the PS4. These features are hard to be rendered for a Smartphone and VR headset setup to match. Additionally, all three rival headsets need to be tethered to their source computer, which limits your movements when playing games.
The $99 Gear VR Innovator Edition is completely mobile, letting you swivel around on your chair or take it anywhere.
Is It Worth Buying?
Samsung’s Gear VR is the company’s first virtual reality headset designed for everyday consumers. For just $99 and a compatible Samsung phone, you can dive into an incredible experience that’ll have you watching 360-degree movies and playing super immersive games. Yes, it only works with a limited number of phones, but right now, there’s no better option if you want to give VR a try.
Also read this: Oculus Rift Review: The VR Race Began To The Future!