Samsung Gear VR (2017) review: Samsung Gear VR's best feature isn't the Galaxy S8, it's the controller
Gear VR is a snap-on, wireless affordable way to turn your Samsung Galaxy phone into a surprisingly capable basic virtual reality headset. And years later, it's still pretty impressive.
What's new in the latest version of Gear VR:
- A wireless motion controller finally adds one-handed, easier controls in apps.
- A revamped Gear VR software update adds higher resolution, a built-in web browser, and VR apps run smoother and cooler on existing phones and headsets.
- The new Gear VR headset fits the new S8 and S8 Plus phones, but it's basically the same as last year's headset.
The new Gear VR headset works with the Galaxy S8 Plus, S8, S7, S7 Edge, Note5, S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+ and comes with Micro USB and USB-C adapters. The extra bits of gear, however, mean keeping track of small dongles. Google's more elegant Daydream View design works without any plug-in dongles at all, but the larger Gear VR, while bulkier and more plastic, fits better on my face.
Again, don't get a new Gear VR headset if you have an old one; just buy the new remote instead.
The Gear VR still works with wired headphones, leaving the headphone jack space on the phone unobstructed. But it's probably better to use wireless headphones to reduce the cable tangle.
I've been using the latest version one with the new Galaxy S8 Plus over the last couple of weeks. To be clear, this isn't the same high-end VR hardware as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. Those are more-advanced pieces of tech that also require a cutting-edge PC.
No, the Gear VR does not push the envelope, but it's probably the VR I'd use daily, and the one I'd recommend to most people as a starter kit. Why? Because it's easy to put on and move around in, it's a lot cheaper than the high-end models, and it has some great VR experiences available for it.
Gear VR came free if you preordered a Galaxy S8 but costs $130 for the controller plus headset for everyone else. If you already have an older Gear VR headset, the controller works with your older setup for an extra $40.
Compared to other mobile VR systems like Google's Daydream View, Gear VR currently has more apps to choose from. For that reason alone, I'd still go with Gear VR over Daydream. But most people, I'd say, should simply get the one that matches the phone they have or want.
If you already have Gear VR, get the new controller, because it's the best part of what's new. But just be forewarned that right now there aren't a ton of apps that take full advantage of it.
VR needs a good remote
Instead of touching an awkward trackpad on the side of your head, there's finally a remote. It has a home button, back button, volume controls and a trigger on the bottom, plus a click pad. It feels like a pointer, or a magic wand. In my hand, it's a better version of what Google packed in with Daydream. But it's also bulkier and not as cleverly packed into the headset design.
Samsung includes a simple elastic strap that's meant to tuck the controller into the Gear VR's headband when not in use, but I worry that this will be one more remote to lose.
The controller can be waved around to track motion, and its motion-sensing is cleverly tuned to fit the hand you're holding it in. Also, the pointer seems slightly larger in VR than it actually is in my hand. The controller doesn't vibrate, but it has all the other basic controls a VR remote would need. Instead of USB charging, it runs on two AAA batteries to last longer.
Facebook's all over this thing
Facebook owns Oculus, and Oculus powers the software and apps of Gear VR. The future of Facebook and Oculus becomes clearer with the latest Gear VR software update I used. For one, the Oculus app that runs on your Galaxy phone now defaults to a Facebook log-in, instead of an Oculus account.
Using Facebook means an easier way of looping in friends to connect with in VR -- something that Facebook is actively concerned with -- but it also means that your mobile VR experience via Gear VR will become increasingly interlinked with your Facebook life.
Facebook 360 is Gear VR's Facebook-specific app, but it's not much more than a small collection of panoramic and 360-degree videos and photos from your friends' feeds. Facebook's bolder, far more interactive Spaces app isn't available on Gear VR (yet), and there's no clear indication when it will come to Gear VR, if at all.
No more hot phone
Oculus' Gear VR software update, which also runs on older Samsung phones using Gear VR, is more power efficient. I haven't tried it across older Samsung phone models, but the Galaxy S8 Plus with Gear VR doesn't get super-warm like the previous model did when plugged into VR. And, the battery drain seems so far to be a lot more manageable. An hour or so of VR used up about 15 percent of my battery. With older Gear VR models, I'd be lucky to get a couple of hours of VR use max on a full charge.
A handful of controller-ready apps
Don't expect all Gear VR apps to fully work with the new remote. Right now, a couple dozen apps are fully remote-supported, which use the controller as a pointer and controller. Hulu, Altspace VR, the excellent Gear VR battle game Wands, and Harmonix' karaoke game Singspace are some of the notables.
Other older apps can use the controller's touchpad, but not the motion controls. Samsung promises more apps will adopt the remote fully, but that depends on app developers bothering to update their apps.
The best mobile VR for now
VR will keep evolving, adding room-sensing cameras for full motion tracking, or maybe even hand-tracking without a remote. Gear VR isn't the bleeding edge anymore. In fact, its new controller is really just letting it keep up with what Google has done with Daydream VR last year. But the total expansive package of Gear VR apps, and the growing Facebook-supported functions in Oculus' apps, make it a better package than before.With augmented reality possibly stealing VR's thunder in the next year or so, and newer VR hardware coming sometime down the road, you're best thinking of Gear VR as the most polished way of trying 360 videos and basic VR right now. For that, it's worth the expense. It's clear that Oculus and Facebook have plans that go way beyond what Gear VR can do right now. But at the moment, Gear VR remains every Samsung phone owner's greatest fringe benefit.
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Update: Samsung has been fairly quiet about VR recently, but it's offering Gear VR owners a free adapter to make it compatible with the Galaxy Note 9, so it's definitely not forgotten about it. Rumors of a new headset have been circulating for a while, but we've yet to see anything concrete from the company.
The Samsung Gear VR is one of the best and cheapest ways to experiences virtual reality if you own a Samsung smartphone. And, now that you can pair it with a motion controller, it’s feels a lot more immersive.
The newest Gear VR for 2018 touts a streamlined, slightly improved design and features a USB-C connector that hooks directly into the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. However, the big draw here is the included wireless controller in the box.
It’s a small remote that looks similar to an HTC Vive controller, elevated touchpad, punchy trigger and all. And, while it may not get points for originality, it just works. Placed in either the right or left hand, this controller is simple to pair to your phone, and the motion controls add a new level of interactivity that was sorely missing from the Gear VR suite.
Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View
Altogether, with the robust and ever-growing collection of VR content and the new controller, the new Gear VR is a painless recommendation. It’s lighter, more comfortable and cross-compatible with older Samsung phones, too. However, if you already own a previous version of the headset, you can pick up the controller separately.
Samsung Gear VR price and release date
The new Samsung Gear VR is available now to the tune of $129 (about £100, AU$117) and includes both the updated headset and its new accompanying controller. If you hunt, you can find it for cheaper online.
For those already rocking a Gear VR headset, Samsung plans on selling the controller separately for $39 (about £30, AU$50).
And, if you’re looking for a deal on the Samsung Gear VR, you’re in luck. Right now on Amazon in the US, you can pick up the Samsung Gear VR for just $86.99 (about £68.61, AU$116.52) with a controller.
The look of the new versus the old Samsung Gear VR isn’t night and day, though it has shed about a quarter pound in weight. When compared to the sleeker, smaller Google Daydream View, it’s still rather monstrous, but its size advantage yields unique benefits over Google’s one-size-fits-all headset.
First off, the optics inside can be adjusted using the top-mounted dial to make the picture easier to see for your eyes. Google’s headset comes at a fixed position and it may take some extra effort to see a clear image.
Keeping the light out is something that the Gear VR has always been good at and the new model is no exception. A welcome area of improvement is the breathability of the headset. On the first iteration, things would get steamy after a few minutes of use, rendering the lenses foggy like a mirror after a hot shower. But by adding a few more air vents beneath the eyes, I no longer find this to be an issue.
Compared to the older model, the cushion that rests around your eyes and nose is noticeably cozier and more supportive. Included in the box is a controller holder that can be installed into the head strap for easy storage.
The buttons and port location are familiar on the new headset, though they have received some tweaking. To match the layout of the new controller, the new headset’s touchpad now features a home button to take you straight out of any app or game that using you’re using.
Confusingly, Samsung steamrolled the directional pad-shaped indicators on the touchpad. Sure, if you’ve used the Gear VR before, you’ll probably adjust easily to the change. But VR first timers might be put off, as the new solution doesn’t present the most intuitive control scheme.
Instead of the microUSB port found on bottom of the original Gear VR that was used for keeping your phone charged, the new headset features a USB-C port that can do the same. Samsung touts it as a multifunction port, so it’s very likely that we’ll see more accessories coming that expand its capabilities, much like how the controller has done.
Samsung includes a swappable microUSB connector, which enables compatibility with the following devices:
The little controller is certainly the highlight of the show, so let’s dig into it. The motion-enabled wand matches the dark aesthetic of the new Gear VR, though it also goes nicely with the older model.
Powered by two AAA batteries, the small controller features a volume rocker, as well as a circular touchpad and the back and home button duo to mimic what’s found on the side of the headset. On its back, there’s a single trigger, which is nice to have for the inevitable onslaught of first-person shooters.
There are a handful of games that offer controller compatibility and they work in a manner that you’d expect if you’ve played anything on Google’s Daydream headset or even the Nintendo Wii. You can aim the controller around in the virtual reality world to select, shoot or pick up objects. Compared to other experiences, Samsung’s controller feels and performs on par.
For many early pre-order adopters of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, the new headset and its controller will come free. But even at $39 (about £30, AU$50), the controller is a welcome, well built addition to the Gear VR family.
Samsung has made the controller compatible with the backlog of apps and games that are already available to users. Both the trigger and touchpad execute the same simple “confirm” command, but the motion capabilities are otherwise turned off.
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Current page: Introduction, design and controllerNext PageSoftware, performance and verdict
Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.
Samsung Gear VR
UPDATE: Samsung has announced that its new Galaxy S10 handsets will all be compatible with the 3rd-Gen Samsung Gear VR headset. As reported by Road to VR, the South Korean conglomerate confirmed that all four phones will operate with the latest Samsung headset thanks to an adapter that comes boxed with the Gear VR.
While many gamers were hoping for a 4th-Gen Gear VR headset announcement to go along with the Galaxy S10 launch it's promising that Samsung is at least keeping the device alive. The Samsung Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus and upcoming Galaxy S10 5G all have HDR capabilities but there's no word yet on HDR content for the Gear VR. Will there ever be a new Samsung Gear VR headset? We can only hope.
Check out the latest Samsung discounts
Our original review of the Samsung Gear VR continues below.
Since the Samsung Gear VR came out there has been a considerable increase in competition from other VR headset manufacturers. While Google, Qualcomm and Lenovo are all working in the field, the biggest threat comes in the form of the untethered Oculus Go from Oculus; the same company that partnered with Samsung to make the Gear VR in the first place. The Gear VR has been updated twice by Samsung and has a price advantage if you already own a recent Galaxy S or Galaxy Note phone, but is Samsung still committed to Gear VR when Oculus seems to be exploring other options?
Will Samsung continue to update its VR headset? One might argue that it doesn’t really need to because each new flagship Samsung phone will improve the display and performance of the Gear VR. Ultimately, the specifications of the handset determine the experience. The better the Samsung phone you’ve got, the better the Samsung Gear VR will be. When choosing VR, you have to weigh up three things: price, portability, and performance. The Gear VR has the first two covered, at least – but a device like the Oculus Go, which requires neither a phone nor a PC to run, has it beaten in the third category.
READ NEXT: Oculus Go review
Samsung Gear VR review: What you need to know
The Gear VR is a Samsung-made virtual reality headset which requires a phone to operate - and specifically a Samsung phone. Because the Gear VR is locked to Samsung devices, the choice of compatible handsets is fairly limited – this is not a problem for the Google Daydream View VR headset, which runs with any smartphone that conforms to Google’s minimum spec.
The first version of the Gear VR we reviewed was launched alongside the Samsung Galaxy S7 (you got a Gear VR for free if you pre-ordered), while the most recent upgrade came out with the Samsung Galaxy S8. This model has a sleeker design and, more importantly, is much more comfortable to wear. As mentioned, VR purveyors Oculus manufactured the Gear VR, which is why all the headset’s games are on the Oculus store.
Samsung phones compatible with the Samsung Gear VR are as follows: Galaxy S9, S9+, Note8, S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge, A8, A8+.
Samsung Gear VR review: Price and competition
The current edition of the Samsung Gear VR, released in 2017, is £120 – this includes the wireless motion controller which previous versions of the Gear VR did not. You can pick up an earlier iteration of the Samsung Gear VR for as little as £31, but it won’t be nearly as good. If you want a decent quality experience, it’s third-generation all the way.
In 2018, the Samsung Gear VR has two main competitors. First up is the Google Daydream View, originally launched in conjunction with the Google Pixel 2. This headset has also seen a recent update, although it wasn't as much of an overhaul as the Gear VR’s. The Daydream View costs £99, the same fixed price as the earlier edition.
Yes, it’s slightly cheaper than the Gear VR and works with a wider range of phones, but there aren’t as many games available for it on the Google store, and they aren’t as good.
The outstanding Oculus Go is the real challenger here, though. At £200 it’s a real bargain for such a powerful and well designed VR headset and gives you a standalone, self-contained VR console which does not require tethering to a PC or smartphone in order to operate – a major advantage. We gave the Oculus Go a shining five-star review and found that it was much more comfortable than the Gear VR too. Although the two headsets share the same games library on the Oculus store, the Go has improved optics and a better controller.
Samsung Gear VR review: Headset design
The newest Gear VR is a tad larger than the original, with dimensions of 12 x 2 x 9.9 cm and a weight of 345g (not including your phone) compared to 318g but those extra few grams won’t make a noticeable difference when wearing it. Appearance and comfort, however, have been vastly improved over the 2nd generation Gear VR. The old white and black has been replaced with an all black, curved design that’s much more Oculus-esque.
The cushioning around the eyes is now much thicker and more supportive, allowing you to use the Gear VR for prolonged periods of time without experiencing discomfort. And the optics have seen improved, too. The lens optics can be toggled using a dial atop the headset, and underneath the lenses a few air vents have been added, eliminating the fogging problem that occurred with earlier iterations of the Gear VR. External light blocking is just as effective in the 2017 Gear VR, ensuring that your session won’t be interrupted by any unwanted rays of sunshine.
Samsung has upgraded the plug-and-play port on the headset to USB-C so that you can charge your phone as you use the Gear VR. This can be swapped out for the old microUSB, allowing compatibility with plenty of older Samsung models. The button layout on the headset has been swapped around a little to match the button mapping on the controller, which I’ll get onto next.
Samsung Gear VR review: Gear VR controller
The addition of a controller is the biggest change to the Gear VR, and it has been sorely lacking, given that the Google Daydream View had one from the get-go. It’s powered by AAA batteries rather than charged, and it’s got the same sleek black design as the headset. It can still be paired with the older Gear VR headsets, however – you can buy one separately for £30. It’s got a circular touchpad, volume and control buttons, and a trigger on the back for shooting games.
The controller feels nice in the hand too, with motion tracking up to the standard of the Oculus Go – not really a surprise, given it’s designed by the same company. Unfortunately, there still aren’t a huge number of games built specifically with the controller in mind, but over time that will hopefully improve. Still, all pre-existing apps and games playable on the old Gear VR can be controlled using the new wireless motion pad.
Samsung Gear VR review: VR experience
The head-tracking on the Gear VR is very smooth, as it always has been. This is no doubt thanks to the Oculus chip inside the headset, which tracks your head movements down to a tee. There’s no external camera or sensor, though, so you can’t move about within your virtual environment or lean out and over to see down an abyss for instance.
The display quality of the Samsung Gear VR headset is dependant on the phone you’re using. The Samsung Galaxy S9 has a Quad-HD 2,960 x 1,440 resolution on a Super AMOLED panel display – this means games incredibly have fast response times, with zero ghosting or blurring. Even the Samsung Galaxy S6, which has the ‘lowest’ resolution of all the supported phones, has a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution on AMOLED panels, with outstanding colour accuracy and contrast ratio.
Even still, the Gear VR experience isn’t quite up to that of the latest dedicated headsets like the HTC Vive Pro or Oculus Rift. The Gear VR’s field of view is estimated to be a bit below 100 degrees, which is only a few degrees less than those headsets, but the difference is noticeable nonetheless. Likewise, the refresh rate is only 60Hz, not the 90Hz that you really want for VR. Of course, if you haven’t spent time on £500+ devices, you’ll have little to complain about.
Graphically, games come out looking stretched, a bit more Xbox 360-like than PS4-standard. Textures that would normally look hyper-detailed on your Samsung Galaxy S9’s 5.8in screen are instead warped across a huge virtual display so that even the best games tend to look a little tired.
Samsung Gear VR review: Games
The Gear VR has access to all the same games playable on the Oculus Go – well over 100 of them, in fact. All these games come from the Oculus store, which you can browse in VR or simply via the app on your phone. There’s plenty to choose from in every genre, but VR games cost more than most mobile games and there aren’t many free-to-play titles, which may irk those used to that payment model.
Some paid games are available for as little as £2.99, however, and every 24 hours Oculus offers a new ‘Daily Deal’ on a popular VR game or app. You’ll need to do a bit of research before splashing your cash on more expensive titles; it’s worth checking out our list of the best Samsung Gear VR games if you’re not sure what to go for.
Samsung Gear VR review: Video and Gear 360
It’s not all about games, though, with 360-degree photos and videos also being important options. There’s a good selection of incredible 360-degree photos on the app already and these will download quickly enough to make browsing them good fun. Video is another matter; expect long waits to download 360-degree video clips before enjoying them. There’s some great stuff, but not a lot of it right now. The quality isn’t always as high as you’d hope either.
There’s a whole lot more to see on YouTube, especially with the arrival of a YouTube VR app made for the Samsung Gear VR. There are some excellent features here, including watching videos together with friends or strangers in a ‘virtual space.’ It’s just a shame that the Oculus Go, Rift, HTC Vive and Google Daydream View all had YouTube VR much earlier, while Samsung took 2 years to get the app in place.
You can also shoot your own 360-degree video with the Samsung Gear 360. This compact video camera works much like the Ricoh Theta range (which has it own Oculus app already) by combining the input of two fisheye lenses to create a 360-degree image. Here’s our full, in-depth review of Samsung’s Gear 360 (spoiler: it’s great).
Samsung Gear VR review: Verdict
If you’re interested in VR and are looking for a new smartphone, then Gear VR should be sufficient reason to turn your head Samsung’s way. You don’t have to spend a fortune, nor will you need a high-spec PC to run any of its games, unlike with the premium Oculus and HTC headsets. This 3rd generation Gear VR is also much more comfortable than previous editions, which means you can play for longer periods of time, and the addition of a motion controller vastly improves the interactivity of the VR experience.
The only problem is that the experience isn’t quite as good as on the Oculus Go. The Gear VR is £80 cheaper and the best way to try out virtual reality gaming and video if you have or plan to have a compatible Samsung phone. If not, Oculus’s own headset is the way to go.
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4.0 out of 5 starsGreat product except for one MAJOR flaw
Reviewed in the United States on August 2, 2017
** Update! I had to purchase a new phone, because I lost my Galaxy S6. I went ahead and spent the $$ for the Galaxy S8, and the GearVr does not overheat it AT ALL. I have played for HOURS, because I got addicted to a game called Smash Hit, and have not had one overheating incident. So because of this, I bumped up from three stars to four. I would have given it 5 for sure if it didn't overheat the S6 so badly.
This would be a five star item if it didn't overheat my phone (Samsung Galaxy S6) EVERY SINGLE TIME.
I purchased this for my 10 year old son's birthday. I'll say the graphics on the games we downloaded are awesome, especially the ocean exploration game. And it was fairly easy to set up and very easy to download games. But you can only play about 10 minutes before you get a message that the phone (or the headset) is overheating and needs to be shut down. I called Samsung tech support and the nice young lady walked me through some steps which involved clearing the phone's cache, starting the phone in safe mode, waiting an hour (!) then restarting in regular mode.
That seemed to work a little bit, because the next time he was able to play for about 20 minutes before it overheated. But after that, it was back to about 10 minutes. Very, very aggravating! Am I supposed to do the cache clearing and waiting an hour for every 10 minutes of play? Plus I don't know if the consistent overheating is damaging the phone. When I disconnect the phone from the headset after the overheating incidents, it does feel very hot to the touch.
Anyway, this is a frustrating problem. If not for this problem, this would be an awesome, outstanding product.
Vr reviews gear
I love Google Cardboard, and I think that it’s one of the biggest reasons that 360/VR has become popular. Meanwhile, there’s the other mobile VR platform, Samsung Gear VR. I thought it was just an overpriced alternative to the Google Cardboard until I tried it out and discovered how wrong I was — it’s on a whole other level of VR.
In this post, I’ll review the Samsung Gear VR. I’ll cover these topics:
– a clear explanation of what makes Samsung Gear VR different from Google Cardboard
– how it works
– how Gear VR differs from HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Playstation VR
– what it’s like to view 360 photos and videos on the Gear VR, compared to Google Cardboard or a VR magic window
– features and specifications of the Gear VR
– some Gear VR apps
– problems / issues
– accessories and mods for the Gear VR
– alternative mobile VR solutions
I use an iPhone, so I had very little interest in the Samsung Gear VR. But one day, I tried the Oculus Rift and the Gear VR and I was very impressed with both of them. But it wasn’t enough to get me to buy the Gear VR. Meanwhile, I got the Gear 360 camera for its video quality and its price. And unfortunately for me, I could process the videos but not the photos with my laptop. So, if I wanted photos from the Gear 360, I could either buy a newer computer or get a used Samsung Galaxy S6. So I got the S6 (yes I was able to process the Gear 360 photos with it). Since I already had the S6, I decided to get the Gear VR. Having tried it again, I would say the Gear VR is definitely a keeper.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SAMSUNG GEAR VR AND GOOGLE CARDBOARD?
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already familiar with Google Cardboard. You insert your phone in a headset (sometimes literally made of cardboard), and view 360 photos, videos, and games. As you look around, you can see above you, behind you, or below you. It’s pretty incredible.
Samsung Gear VR also uses a phone in a headset, and the concept is similar to Google Cardboard – it’s a way to enjoy 360-degree content. The difference is the distinction between an active and passive VR headset.
A Google Cardboard viewer is a passive headset. In its simplest form, it consists of just two lenses and a way to insert your phone, like this simple C-1 GoogleTech viewer:
Some of them have a magnetic button that can act as a trigger for some games, and some have built-in headphones to plug into your phone’s jack. But all the hard work is done by your phone’s gyroscope and accelerometer. Some even look a lot like the Samsung Gear VR. It’s easy to imagine the Gear VR is just like Cardboard. But it’s not.
Samsung Gear VR is an active headset. It has its own IMU (inertial measurement unit), i.e. gyroscopes and accelerometer, and other electronics to provide much more accurate head tracking. It has other tricks that I’ll mention later.
THE CRUCIAL DIFFERENCE
But so what if the Gear VR has electronics? What’s the difference in the real world? If you have a seat and look around you, your view changes, but moving your head does not move the objects around you. Obviously, everything stays where they are, or continues on their motion, independent from the way you move your head.
With Cardboard, moving your head changes your view, but the 360 sphere around you also moves slightly in response to your movements. It’s less noticeable when you’re just using a VR magic window (holding your phone out in front of you). When you’re using a Cardboard viewer, the image is magnified, so these tiny movements become more noticeable. It’s sufficient for your brain to recognize that even though the view changes as you look around, you’re only looking at a display that you happen to be wearing. That’s why there is zero sense of presence with Google Cardboard.
With the Gear VR, as you look around, everything that you see “stays” in their place solidly, oblivious to your head movements. Because they appear to stay in place despite your head movements, it is sufficient to convince the unconscious parts of your brain that they exist “out there” (not in a display you’re wearing). Welcome to virtual reality. This is the biggest difference between Cardboard and Gear VR.
So, all the screenshots from Gear VR are useless, even those in stereoscopic 3D. They simply cannot convey the persuasiveness of the VR illusion that the Gear VR can create. The only way to experience it is to try it out.
HOW IT WORKS
To make the Gear VR work, it uses several technologies from Oculus (it’s not just a sticker 😀 ):
– wide field of view (96 degrees)
– high resolution (1280 x 1440 per eye) at 60fps (compare with Oculus Rift at 1080 x 1200 per eye)
– as mentioned, the Gear VR has its own built-in IMU
– asynchronous time warp: “generates intermediate frames in situations when the game can’t maintain frame rate, helping to reduce judder.” Judder, btw, is when the image skips or sometimes shakes a little bit due to the inability to keep up with your head movement.
– higher processing priority: when using the Gear VR, the phone will prioritize the processing for the VR calculations.
– very low latency: all of the foregoing combine so that there is a less than 20 millisecond delay from the time you move your head to the time you see the change in the display (low “motion-to-photon” latency)
So, yes the Gear VR has a lot more technology in it. This is why even though there are Google Cardboard viewers with wider field of view and are more comfortable, they simply won’t be able to do what the Gear VR does.
VERSUS THE BIG BOYS (HTC VIVE, OCULUS RIFT, PLAYSTATION VR): IMMERSION VS. PRESENCE
I’ve described the difference between Gear VR and Cardboard. It sounds amazing, doesn’t it? But the Gear VR is not a full VR system. In the experiment above, note that I first said “have a seat.” That places you within the Gear VR’s limits. The Gear VR has head tracking / rotational tracking but not positional tracking.
Head tracking means you can look around and as long as you stay where you are, the VR illusion will be maintained – you’ll be able to see above you, behind you, or beside you. But if you lean more than a few inches forward or in any direction, the system won’t be able to adjust the image to match your movement.
In a true VR system, there’s positional tracking, which means that not only will your view change as you look around, but it will also change as you move in any direction. If there’s something in front of you, and you move sideways far enough, you’ll be able to see behind it.
On the Gear VR you will feel like the image surrounds you (kind of like Professor X’s Cerebrus). This is immersion. Because Gear VR does not have positional tracking, it has only a very weak sense of presence, the illusion of feeling like you’re somewhere else (Google Cardboard has no sense of presence at all). On a true VR system, it really did feel like I was somewhere else.
VIEWING 360 CONTENT ON GEAR VR
What’s it like to view 360 photos and videos on the Gear VR instead of Google Cardboard? There is definitely a much stronger sense of immersion. When I view my 360 images with the Gear VR, I do feel completely surrounded by the image. Even though the field of view is only about 96 degrees and I can easily see the frame of the headset with my peripheral vision, there is a strong illusion that the image exists outside of me and my headset. This is true even with 2D spherical photos.
With 3D spherical photos and videos, not only is there a strong sense of immersion, but I also feel stronger presence. It’s still only a tiny fraction of the presence I feel on a full VR system, but it’s noticeably stronger than with a 2D photo or video. For example, one of the 3D videos I enjoyed watching on the Gear VR was this sailing video captured with the Vuze 3D 360 camera, which is available on the Gear VR edition of Vrideo.
|from Sailing in Tel Aviv by Vuze Camera|
USING THE GEAR VR
To use the Gear VR, you attach your smartphone with two hinged clips on the front of the Gear VR. To do that, first you select the right distance for the clip (position A for Note 5, position B for other smartphones). Then you attach your compatible phone to the clip on the right side, which has a built-in USB port.
|image by Samsung|
The first time you do this, you’ll hear a voice from your phone prompting you to remove the phone and go through the installation of the Gear VR software. After installing the software, you attach the smartphone to the right-side clip again. As you push the phone down against the left clip, the spring loaded clip clamps on to your phone, securing it to the Gear VR.
Once attached, you wear the Gear VR, and the Gear VR software launches. When you use it the first time, there’s a tutorial that shows you how to use the control pad and back button. Then you see the main menu which floats in a modern spa-like hall. You then use the control pad and the cursor to navigate the menu to your desired app, or to the Oculus store.
FEATURES OF THE GEAR VR
1. Can accommodate headphones. The Gear VR has space for you to insert a headphone jack.
2. There’s also a pass-through USB port on the bottom. You can plug the Gear VR to an outlet to save your phone’s battery. In addition, if you’re not using the Gear VR, it will charge your phone.
3. Proximity sensor. The Gear VR has a proximity sensor so that it can detect when you’re wearing it or not. When you’re not wearing it, it pauses your content automatically and the display turns off. It’s a little too sensitive so that when I’m cleaning the lens, I hear it turning on and off.
4. Focus adjust (with indicator). There is a dial on top to adjust the focus by moving the lens array closer or farther from your eyes. Unfortunately, because the lenses are moved together, there is no individual adjustment per eye (but see modification below). There are also lines on the left side to help you remember your desired focus setting, if sharing between family members.
5. Volume control On the right side, there are buttons for adjusting the volume without you having to remove the Gear VR.
6. Control pad. On the right side of the Gear VR is a control pad that uses capacitive touch. You can press it like a button but it will detect your touch like a touchscreen. There is also a back button above the control pad.
7. See through. You’re supposed to leave the front cover off the Gear VR to avoid heat buildup. It also allows you to use the phone’s camera. On the universal menu, there’s a see through mode that will let you see with your phone’s camera so you can look around the real world briefly without having to remove the Gear VR.
8. Screen capture and screen recording. In the universal menu, you can do a screen capture or screen recording. Rather than taking a literal screenshot of the distorted display on your phone, it will capture a simulated view of what you see on the Gear VR display, at 1024×1024 resolution.
9. Removable foam pads. The foam pads are removable for cleaning or possibly replacement (though Samsung’s not selling foam pads now).
10. Anti-fog fan (on Innovator Edition). The first generation Gear VR, called the Innovator Edition, had a built-in fan to reduce fogging.
I just got the Gear VR a few days ago, and the number of apps keeps growing, so I can’t say which apps are the best. But here are some apps I found interesting:
If you’re looking for one app to show someone what Gear VR can do, I think this would be it. GrooVR puts you in an alien world while playing music from your library. Simple enough, but the VR illusion is spectacular. This VR app probably had the strongest sense of presence for me.
|screenshot from GrooVR|
Milk VR – Conjuring 2
Milk VR shows a constantly updated selection of VR videos. One video that I thought was pretty cool was The Conjuring 2, a VR video promoting the movie. The video puts you in a haunted house. I’m not a horror movie fan, but I liked this video because it did make me feel scared, which I thought was amazing considering that logically I knew that I was only wearing a VR headset, and also because the video was only 3 minutes long. Yet in that short span of time, it managed to make my hairs stand on end. Might be a good demo app for VR skeptics. mwahahaha
|The Conjuring 2 on Milk VR|
- Netflix: you can watch Netflix in a virtual home theater. You’re in a nice mountain lodge on a couch watching what looks like a 100-inch screen.
- Samsung Internet: feels like browsing on a very large screen. The primary use is for watching YouTube videos. YouTube has no Gear VR app yet but you can use Samsung Internet to watch 360 videos from YouTube.
- Jurassic World: puts you in a forest with an Apatosaurus. There’s no interaction but it looks great.
Sketchfab: showroom of computer generated 360 images.
Minecraft Gear VR: like being in the Minecraft world. Controller required.
Gunjack Eve: like EVE: Valkyrie for Gear VR. In this game, you operate a gun turret.
One thing I noticed is that many of the apps are not cheap, around $5 or $10. However, there are a few free apps.LIMITATIONS / PROBLEMS / ISSUES
The Gear VR is not perfect. Here are some of the issues I encountered:
1. Screendoor. On the S6, I can see the individual pixels which some people describe as like looking through a screendoor. It doesn’t bother me.
2. Cannot adjust focus separately per eye.
3. Cannot adjust interpupillary distance.
4. Fog up. A recurring issue for me. The lenses would tend to fog up. (The earlier, Innovator edition of the Gear VR has fans to reduce fogging.) To reduce fogging, I play with a fan in front of me.
5. Overheating. As you use the Gear VR, the phone gets very warm. You’ll get a warning about overheating. I haven’t played to the point of it shutting down from overheating but see below.
6. Occasional judder. Occasionally, there will be judder (the screen stutters instead of following my head movement). This happens with greater frequency as your phone heats up.
7. Nausea. If I use the Gear VR long enough, I get nauseated. How long it takes to feel nausea depends on what I’m watching. It’s almost as if I have a fixed amount of nausea endurance. As I’m watching, that endurance is depleted gradually. If the content is stable (e.g. the Netflix app), it uses up my endurance slowly. It seems that if the movement is linear and constant (e.g. BMW’s “Keep your eyes on Gigi”), it’s also not bad. But some content where the camera is flying around in a circle rapidly depleted my nausea endurance. I also felt almost immediately nauseated when the camera was handheld with no stabilization and the cameraman was walking.
8. Discomfort after extended wear. My face starts to hurt if I wear the Consumer version for let’s say 1.5 hours. I haven’t felt such discomfort with the Innovator Edition.
ACCESSORIES AND MODS
1. Controller. Some Gear VR apps, such as Minecraft, require a controller. I tried a Steelseries Stratus which felt good but unfortunately could not connect to my S6. I instead got a True Depth 3D BT Gamepad, a PS3-style controller that has worked well with my Samsung Galaxy S6 and Gear VR.
2. Using Gear VR as a Cardboard viewer. Yes you can use Gear VR for Cardboard apps and websites. See here.
3. Coldpack. To reduce overheating, some users have reported success with using a coldpack. See here. Others installed a fan on the cover of the Gear VR. See here. I haven’t tried either solution yet. I’ve only played in front of an electric fan.
4. Increase the FOV. Apparently, you can increase the field of view of the Gear VR by mounting the lenses on milk bottle caps. An additional benefit is that you’ll be able to adjust focus individually per eye. See here. I haven’t tried this yet either.
1. Google Cardboard – As I mentioned above, I don’t think they will ever be as good as Gear VR because it’s not optimized for VR. But if you’re looking for a good Cardboard viewer, I’ve heard good things about the Bobo Z4. One of my friends has it and he really likes it.
2. Google Daydream – Daydream VR headsets seem to be similar to the Gear VR and have their own electronics. I suspect it will feel similar. At the same time, because it’s open, I expect that it will have even more apps than the Gear VR.
3. Baofeng Mojing 5 – This is a mobile VR headset with built-in electronics. It one-ups Gear VR by adding 3D motion and gesture control with Leap Motion. Most importantly, it has positional tracking by using a pair of external sensors/beacons. It looks very interesting but I’m skeptical of the execution, and I have serious doubts about whether it will have adequate support from third parties (which means few apps).
Gear VR is a solid VR system. It is truly capable of creating a convincing VR illusion that is far more impressive than what you can experience from Google Cardboard. Watching through Gear VR feels more similar to Oculus Rift than the Google Cardboard. True, the Gear VR doesn’t have positional tracking but it is more affordable, accessible and portable. Most importantly, it is supported by many third parties and there is a growing number of apps.
If you’d like to buy a Gear VR or True Depth 3D BT Gamepad, please consider buying one through the Amazon link below, which would be a great way to support this site without cost to you.
See also: Samsung Gear VR FAQ
TagscardboarddaydreamGear VRgoogle cardboardgoogle daydreammobileoculusSamsung gear vrvirtual realityvrSours: https://360rumors.com/samsung-gear-vr-review-why-its-muc/
About the Samsung Gear
Although I've had the Samsung Gear virtual reality headset for sometime now, I hadn't really reviewed it until now. The headset has recently been upgraded. The first version was launched alongside the Galaxy S7 with the newer model coming out to coincide with the S8. Of course, being made by Samsung, one of the limitations of this headset is that it is only compatible with Samsung smartphones, unlike its competitors such as Google’s Daydream View. As this headset has the same maker as the Oculus headsets, all of the games are on at the Oculus store.
Strapping a smartphone to your head may seem peculiar, but this is essentially what you are doing with this headset. Having said that, the Gear is comfortable to wear, even on those of us with bigger than average heads who wear glasses! The designers have tweaked their design, not only to fit the newer S8 phones, but also to allow it to fit more snugly. The only technology inside the headset are the lenses themselves. There’s a touchpad for navigating on the side and a focusing wheel too.
To fit the S8 models, it is a little larger than its predecessors and weighs slightly more at 345g (without your phone in it of course) but you won’t really notice this difference when you’re wearing it. It’s sleeker and more sophisticated too in a new curved, all-black design. The cushioning is nice – more supportive and thicker. There’s also the addition of some air vents that are there to prevent the well-reported lens fogging of the older Samsung Gear. The biggest difference is the new controller, which if I’m honest was much needed given that the competitors all seemed to have one already.
This headset also has a USB-C port. Samsung says that it is multifunctional so you can bet that Samsung will bring out some more accessories at some point.
Ease of Use
I first tried this out in a stiflingly hot room. Despite this, it was actually really comfortable to wear and I didn’t feel like my head was on fire during it. The padding was comfy and there was a vast array of strap options to keep it secure. It didn’t slip once!
The set up was quite straightforward, but it did take a little while. There are a few apps that need installing and the headset needs to be charged first too. The good thing is, though, that you can charge the phone whilst it’s in use in the headset, which is fab!
The Gear performed well in all of the games and apps that I tried - one of my personal favourites being Lands End. The head tracking was incredibly smooth thanks to Oculus’s chip located in the headset. This tracks your head movements perfectly and then replicates them on the screen. Unfortunately, though, you can’t move around or lean in your virtual world, as there are no sensors or external cameras attached. The headset is essentially a 3DOF - movement in the three dimensions except rotation.
Of course, the performance of the screen and display is dependent on your phone. If you use the S9, it has fantastic resolution and Quad-HD technology as well as a Super AMOLED display. There’s no blurring or ghosting here, but with other models of phone, performance will no doubt vary. The S6 did perform well too in terms of colours and contrast, and that’s the lowest spec of all the supported phones for this headset. You will notice the phone does get quite hot, even after just 20 minutes of play.
The Field of View (FOV) is about 100 degrees, which is pretty darn good. The refresh rate solely depends on the model of phone, the higher the better. The S7 has a refresh rate of only 60Hz but if you want better clarity, say 90Hz - 120Hz, you'll need a more recent phone, such as the S9 or S9 Plus.
The fact that optics are adjustable is great and is a unique feature that most other headsets just don’t have.
The controller is like a small remote which looks similar to competitor controllers. It has a raised touchpad and a trigger-like button. It might not be original in its creation and design, but it does work really well and can be used by lefties just as easily as right-handed folk.
If you’re a newcomer to virtual reality then the Gear VR is an affordable try-it-out option. It’s not going to compete with the PC-powered or standalone VR headsets, but if you’re already a Samsung Galaxy owner then it’s a pretty good pick. The content selection continues to grow and it’s also easy to use once it’s set up. The fact there’s now a controller means that it’s so much easier to play games too. However, if you don’t already own a Galaxy Smartphone, then it’s probably not the best choice given that it won’t be compatible with your existing phone.
If you’re shopping for a new phone, then picking up a headset with a new Galaxy wouldn’t be a bad shout. It doesn’t cost the earth and you don’t need any existing PC gadgetry to go with it.
Have you got the Samsung Gear or used it? Share your thoughts and opinions with me using the comment box below.
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You could see how Oleg blushed with shame, he was incredibly humiliated and, probably, no longer felt like a man. After that, Sveta first slowly licked the head of my penis, and then completely took it into her mouth and began to passionately suck.
In between times saying: Mmm.