Samsung GearVR

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Welcome to the future of Mobile interaction, meet the Samsung Gear VR. This headset works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge +, S7 and S7 edge, so you will need one of those devices to make use of this headset.

I will be reviewing this with the excellent Samsung Galaxy S7. I recently upgraded to this phone and one of the selling points over other handsets was the Gear VR. I have been around people that have used it and they all sang it’s praises.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and boy was I amazed with the features, applications and games available.

Getting Started

Out of the box you will need to ensure you phone is not in a case as it is not designed to plug in with one attached. You will want to wipe the screen down with a nice microfiber cloth and then install the Oculus Rift application from the play store, and set it up. This involves creating an account with them and if you wish to purchases any of the paid downloads, you will also need to register your credit or debit card.

Once this is all done, you simply attach the phone to the headset using the micro USB connector and clip it in place. You attach the head straps and adjust to fit – I found a reasonably tight fit is best as it keeps light from bleeding into the headset.

Welcome to Oculus Rift Application

When you have placed the headset on, you will notice the app will start automatically and adjust to where you are looking. You then move your head around to look at the 3D 360° menu. It will walk you though initial setup the first time to ensure you know how to use it. Once you have completed the walk through you are left at the main menu, showing the current offers in-front and the menu to the left.

You pick what you want to do by looking at the app and then touch the touchpad on the right hand-side of the VR headset. It really is straightforward to use and you get used to it very quickly and I was able to flick through the apps and menu with speed and accuracy.

Initial Observations

After playing with the menu and looking through the application store, I loaded up a 360 Rollacoaster application, sat down on a swivel chair, put some earphones in and pressed play. I was amazed at the quality of this application and the use of 360° sound. As I looked around – the sound moved with the visuals. This sucked me straight into the environment and made the whole thing very enjoyable.

I then tried again, but with my bluetooth headset, and the 360° sound did not work, it sounded like I was listening to some badly encoded audio that clipped and scratched. So I went back to using the earphones.

Special Mention – Netflix

I had seen that Netflix was available for the VR, so I installed the app. I had read differing reviews – some complaining of the poor quality. I went in with an open mind and loaded up a TV show. I will mention at this point that the so called “Screen Door” effect is apparent, but I got so absorbed into the show I hardly paid it any attention.

I then loaded up a movie (How to Train your Dragon) and sat back. I was again fully absorbed into the movie and proceeded to run out of battery whilst watching. But that should not be a problem if you have not been playing around all day with it on a single charge!

Issues and concerns

The phone does get very hot whilst in use, but I would not be overly concerned as you are not holding on to it and when you stop using it, it cools down very quickly. Another issue is that the lenses fog up when I first put it on each time and I need to take it off and wipe them down with a microfiber cloth. Nothing major – but just a little annoying when you do get absorbed in a show or game.

Finally

I love this headset, I have not stopped using it every day since I got it. I have tried out various apps, games and utilities and have loved using it. I am looking forward to getting a bluetooth game controller so I can play some of the more involved games. I also love watching videos on it (3D, 360° and normal 2D).

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