The problem with Samsung VR is that many people see it as a fad. With products like PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift on the horizon, there’s a clear possibility that Samsung could be left by the wayside when true powerhouse products become more readily available to the general public.
Samsung VR is actually powered by Oculus technology which gives the headset a much better starting point. But it is it everything that it’s cracked up to be? Check our guide to find out everything you need to know about the features found on the headset.
(Disclaimer: We purchased the Samsung Gear VR headset to review. It was tested using an S7 edge, some features may differ depending on your handset.)
Let’s get started with some of the most important features;
Basic Info: What is the Gear VR:
The Gear VR is a virtual reality headset that connects with a limited number of Samsung devices to power virtual reality apps. You stay in one spot to use it, and it tracks your head movements accordingly. (That means you can use it while sitting down, or watch a film with the headset while lying down.)
There are buttons located on the side to control volume and to go back, and it’s pretty intuitive and easy to get used to.
The consumer edition was released in November 2015, and it’s the first popular mobile VR headset. The technology still has a long way to go, but there’s been a positive reaction so far from most people who’ve tried it.
That being said, it’s still in the early stages as the first commercially released model, so it’s exciting to think what the technology will be like in future. There are a few bugs and issues, but it’s not a bad effort by any stretch of the imagination.
We’ll discuss the virtual reality itself at length below.
It’s the most obvious feature for a reason! Virtual reality is here for (selected) mobile devices, and it works perfectly. It’s still in the early stages of refinement, but it works well considering the entry level price point.
You just have to slot your device into the headset, and you’ll be ready to get started after a few minutes of downloading and updating software on your phone.
(That being said, there is a minimum age requirement on the Gear VR (13+), so make sure to be careful if you decide to let a younger teenager have a go.)
The Gear VR headset is the latest model in the production line, and it worked better than I expected to. If you’re still not sure of what it can do, here’s a video that shows what it’s like to use the VR Netflix app.
If you’re interested in watching movies and TV on your device, check out our article that takes you through everything you need to know.
As you can see from the video above, it opens up so many possibilities in terms of 3D VR games and entertainment.
For me, the headset was good, despite leaving me feeling a little worse for wear the first time I used it. Our product review goes through my experiences in depth, but if you just want the score it got 4/5.
Samsung Gear VR Compatibility and Apps:
Here’s a list of compatible devices:
The S7, the S7 edge, the Note5, the S6, S6 edge and S6 edge+.
These are the only devices that will slot into the headset at this moment in time. If you don’t want a Samsung device, there are a few alternative VR units available.
Google Cardboard is a cheap alternative that works on a larger range of devices, but it’s limited when compared to the Gear VR. You can find more brands at comparable price points online, although it would probably be best for Samsung owners to get the Gear.
As you might expect, there aren’t that many apps on the Oculus store, but there are a few decent games and services that should catch your eye.
These are only going to improve in time, and some of the larger U.S. media companies are busy working on apps to rival Netflix, as well as producing original VR content of their own.
Otherwise, what’s the point of watching 2D content in virtual reality? You’ll get improved image quality if you stick to the TV.
It’s true that the headset doesn’t look as nice as previous models, such as the futuristic looking innovator edition below.
However, it makes for a headset which is 19% lighter than the previous model, and it’s reasonably comfortable during use. If you haven’t experienced virtual reality the Gear VR is a great way to get started, although there must be a hardware revision in the pipeline.
There’s no news so far, but it’s worth remembering that a lot depends on the quality of your screen, which displays the image.
Samsung Gear VR Display:
The display isn’t as crisp as I’d like, but it’s understandable considering the price and the device powering it. Being transported to a new world is amazing, and it takes you aback when you first enter the Oculus menu.
The headset uses your phone screen to display virtual reality. It has a 2560 x 1440 resolution and a 96-degree field of view, which allows for a decent image, (although it is slightly blurry at the edges.)
It’s not a graphical powerhouse, but it’s still impressive. It’s fair to say that it can sometimes be a little rough around the edges, but it depends on what sort of experience you’re expecting.
Here’s a review that shows what I’m talking about:
If you’ve tried out VR technology in the past you’re unlikely to be disappointed, but remember that the tech is still being refined, and it’s going to improve.
Here’s another user from the Gear VR Reddit forums;
“I just received my Gear VR and so far I love it. I have learned about Stream Theatre and all the other cool apps for it. The issue I am having is that everything seems a bit blurry and not very sharp. Especially text. I am wondering if this is normal or if mine is having some issues. I have tried moving the headset around my head and played with the focus nob, and not having any luck. I also made sure to make sure all plastic coverings were removed. Anyone have a thought?”
In all probability, it’s the technology itself that has caused the blur he’s talking about. VR technology is still being refined, (especially for mobile devices) so it’s not going to be as impressive as a games console. It takes a lot of power to run virtual reality, and it comes at the expense of graphical fidelity.
The fact it works at all is a miracle in itself, and it shows just how far we’ve come since the 1990’s and their crazy console attachments that flirted with 3D.
We’re at the point where technology seems to have finally caught up with the concept, and it’s only going to keep getting better in future.
Here’s a video showing off the new Oculus Home update on the Gear VR:
Samsung Gear VR Micro SD, Accessories and Memory:
The headset has a few accessories, like cases and covers that’ll help to keep it safe from the sun.
If you need more control while gaming, there’s an official pad you can buy separately. It might not be for everyone, but it’s a shame that it doesn’t come packaged with the headset. (There are also a few unofficial controllers available online that should work.)
Some S7 users have had problems when trying to copy over files, but these issues seem to have been resolved following a recent update.
Samsung Gear VR in Future
It’s clear that everybody is slowly getting used to the idea of virtual reality being the next big thing. Companies are heavily invested in the tech, (and they’re pushing it as best they can) while consumers and the media have been pleasantly surprised following early scepticism.
The best thing is that there’s lots of scope for improvement in the future, and there’s no telling where it will stop.
They might not be feeding us, but we could soon be using virtual reality for a large number of tasks and entertainment purposes. We discuss the future of the gear VR at length in our product review and our movies and TV article, so have a look if you want to find out more.
(Maybe a few more links here?)
If you just want the basics, here’s a list of the pros and cons of the Gear VR headset:
If you want to experience VR and you have a compatible device, it’s a cheap and easy way to get a working glimpse into the future of gaming. (Allegedly.)
- Actual virtual reality
- Works well
- Cheap considering what it offers
- Decent selection of apps on the store
- Lighter and more comfortable than previous models
- Good support from third party companies
It’s not for everyone, and there’s still a lot of work to do before these problems can be ironed out:
- Limited to a small selection of devices
- Some users still find the headset hard to wear
- Can cause issues (such as overheating) during extended use
- Blurry around the edges
- A few bugs
- Fogs up quite easily
If you’re still undecided, there’s no reason to jump into a purchase right away. At least you should now have a better idea of what the Samsung Gear VR has to offer, as well as some of the main pros and cons about the headset.
Owners have popped up all over the internet to register their surprise at just how good the experience is, but there are some issues that need to get sorted in the long run.
After a few phone hardware generations have passed by, just how good is the tech going to be? We’ll have to wait and see, but if the Gear VR is any indication we’re in for some great times in the future.
The Gear VR headset is a fairly cheap entry level item, (still not as cheap at Google Cardboard) and if you have one a compatible device, it makes sense to give it a try if you think you might be interested.
Are you planning on trying out the Samsung Gear VR headset in the near future, or do you have one already? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!