Author: Jonas W. Kvist
Date: January 30, 2016
Back at the end of 2014, I first heard of Samsung Gear VR. The news was about Samsung entering into a collaboration with Oculus in order for them to create a mobile edition of Virtual Reality together. I must admit that I was somewhat doubtful initially about whether a phone would be able to give the user a great experience. When I read later that John Carmack himself was among the participants in the project, I set aside my misgivings.
Buy VR Guide Score
- Great selection of VR experiences and entertainment
- Easy and clear user interface
- Great immersion
- Low price
- Mobility (no wires)
- Requires a compatible Samsung cellphone
- No movement sensor
- Gamepad must be purchased separately
- Tendency to fog up after extended use
Samsung Gear VR shows how you can and should give the consumer a great VR experience. In order for Virtual Reality to come out of the basements and garages of the enthusiasts, it is necessary to create a platform that is simple, and which everyone can figure out – and that’s precisely what Samsung has accomplished along with Oculus. There are already hundreds of experiences, games, and 360-degree videos on their platform, creating the foundation for many hours of entertainment. Finally, the image quality is stunningly good, and the price is low to boot, which contributes to Samsung’s VR Gear getting high marks from here. The only challenge is the VR headset only being compatible with certain Samsung mobile phones.
Samsung Gear VR Review
Samsung launched their Gear VR Headset back in December of 2014. This first edition was only intended for developers, who could use the headset to create new and different experiences.
Ahead of the launch, Samsung and Oculus had entered into a partnership, where Samsung was responsible for the hardware itself (the physical VR headset), while Oculus was in charge of software. One of the reasons for the collaboration was their common realization that new VR equipment would only be interesting for consumers, if there were lots of exciting VR content to use with the new gear.
Here, just over a year later, the final edition of the Samsung Gear VR headset has just been launched. With a click on the side of the virtual reality headset, you can travel to remote corners of the galaxy, dive to the deepest parts of the ocean, go to the stadium to see the final match along with other fans, try the craziest rollercoaster, battle dragons with your virtual sword, or meditate sitting on a deserted beach. In other words, lots of content is available today on the Samsung/Oculus platform.
Samsung’s Gear VR is the size of a large pair of ski goggles. The fit is good and the soft foam located on the inside makes wearing the headset feel very comfortable. Another advantage to the design of the VR glasses is the fact that it also allows you to wear regular glasses. Wearing glasses under the headset can be problematic, however, for which reason you may want to use the focus dial located at the top of the Gear VR. This way you can easily adjust focus to your vision without sacrificing comfort.
It is important to point out that Samsung’s Gear VR must be used with one of the compatible Samsung smartphones. Thus, this is not a VR headset with a built-in screen as you see with e.g. Oculus Rift. Instead the headset is what is known as a VR viewer, which is used along with a telephone, similar to using Google Cardboard. The difference between Cardboard and Gear VR is the fact that Samsung’s headset contains such hardware as an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and other sensors. These components prevent delays in the goggles (also known as latency), when you look around, thus making the experience more lifelike. There are no sensors to register your position in the room, which means that you cannot move around the virtual world by walking around the real world. Therefore, the VR headset is best for seated experiences, such as a rollercoaster, spaceship, or meditating on a deserted beach. It doesn’t mean, however, that you must remain still in the virtual world. When you need to move around, it is typically done by either looking in the direction you want to move, or by using a controller (like the once used for Xbox, for instance). The way the steering works depends on the individual game or experience.
The first time you place your phone in the headset, you will be asked to remove it again. At this time, the software from Oculus is automatically installed in a few minutes. When the installation is completed, the phone can be installed in the headset again, after which you can put on the headset. Inside the headset you will see a menu like the one seen in the picture below.
In order to navigate around the menu, you look at the menu item you want to select, after which you click the side of the virtual reality headset to make your selection.
When you need a break from VR entertainment, you take out your mobile phone, at which time it changes back into the regular android screen automatically. It is very simple and very user friendly.
For certain games, a controller may be required, so if you spend a lot of time gaming, you might want to buy one.
The VR headset from Samsung is compatible with the following mobile telephones:
- Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S7 and S7 Edge
- Note 5 with 5.7” screen
In order to create a VR success, a lot of great and varied content, which is also easily accessible, is necessary, as mentioned earlier.
The contents can be divided into the following three categories.
- VR – 180- and 360-degree video
- Video filmed with a special camera type
- Can give you the experience of sitting at the stadium watching your favorite team winning the championship or of seeing the musical “Phantom of the Opera”.
- VR experiences
- Animated experiences
- Can do things like taking you on an educational journey through the universe or take you on a ride on the craziest rollercoaster
- VR games
- Computer games, where you are typically placed inside the game world
- May be something like steering a spaceship or maneuvering yourself around inside the game world
Below, you can read more and find examples of some of the best VR apps we have tested within the three different categories.
VR – 180- and 360-degree video
If you want to experience a sporting event, concert, or something similar through your VR headset, you may want to download NextVR, which live streams various events in a 180-degree format – It has been tested at US Open and Nascar, among others. Why look at Netflix on the tiny flat screen on the plane, for instance, when you can opt for sitting in a virtual home movie theater instead, watching the newest series and movies – all you have to do is download the Netflix VR app.
At the time of this writing, there are many available VR experiences, and more continue to be added. A free one, which is definitely worth trying, is “Titans of Space”. Here you will experience how VR can send you to places you didn’t dream were possible.
See how Samsung’s Gear VR can be used for video and experiences:
Titans of Space
If you would like to move about freely among the planets in our solar system and get a unique experience of space, I can absolutely recommend “Titans of Space”. The experience is designed as an instructional video that talks about space and the planets. It is an amazing experience that is head and shoulders about TV or iPad.
There are many games that can be downloaded to Samsung Gear VR, and the number of released games grows every day. Many games are free, while others typically cost between $1 and $5. Games and VR experiences can be downloaded via the Oculus Store.
See how Samsung’s Gear VR can be used for games:
One of the best games you will currently find for Gear VR is “Dreadhalls”.
In Dreadhalls, you must move around a dark and gloomy labyrinth. As the person in the game, you must make sure you are not attacked by various entities and people. Furthermore, you need to open doors with the right keys and make sure that your kerosene lamp stays lit at all times. It is a very immersive and intense game that will get your heart pounding.
At the time of this writing, the game costs $4.99.
At the time of this writing, the price for Samsung Gear VR is $99.83 including delivery.
With their Samsung Gear VR, Samsung has created a very good VR headset. It is only compatible with certain Samsung mobile phones, however, but if you have one of them, we would recommend purchasing Samsung’s Gear VR. You get a wireless VR headset that will keep you entertained for hours in the virtual world.
There is every indication that VR headsets, such as Samsung Gear VR will be huge within the next year. Apple is hiring people with VR expertise, and Google are hiring for their VR department as well. If you want to be part of the first wave of mobile VR and have the best VR headset in this category, Samsung Gear VR is currently your best bet.