Samsung Gear VR hands-on, first impressions
A couple of weeks back, I managed to a Samsung Gear VR at the Changi Airport in Singapore on our way back to Manila. It was about $SGD148 and since I still have my Galaxy Note 5 with me, I thought it would be interesting to see how useful the Gear VR in its current state.
I have had a chance to try out the Gear VR as early as last year but the limited amount of time and available content then left me wanting. The virtual reality head gear is basically collaboration between Samsung and Oculus. The headgear acts as a cradle and controller that needs to be paired with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 that acts as the display.
It’s actually a pretty interesting setup. If you own a Galaxy Note 5, just get the Gear VR for $USD99 and you practically have the same function and features as the Oculus Rift which, by the way, will retail for $USD599 when it comes out. In a way, the Note 5 and Gear VR seems like a better combo.
The headgear is very easy to setup and install. The gear is composed of the main housing with two glass lenses, a plug-in cradle for the smartphone, strap band to set the headgear in place and dark a polycarbonate cover at the front to hide the phone and give the unit a more clean look.
To set up, just attach the Galaxy Note 5 into the cradle with the micro-USB jack plugged into the charging port of the phone. This automatically actives the VR mode and prompts you to download the Oculus app. The next step is to make adjustments or calibrations to the display so you get optimal viewing experience. The last step is kind of a step-by-step tutorial on how to navigate and control the Gear VR – from adjusting the clarity, to moving the pointing device, and accessing the navigation buttons from the side panel.
Once installed, you can now the access the Oculus content library. There are a lot of 360-degree photos and short video clips to watch in the library. The more immersive photos are those of the outer space, under cast oceans or inside big structures. Some short video clips like the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser are actually impressive. Even sample games such as Assassin’s Creed 3 looked awesome.
Image quality is pretty good in most of the scenes and the clips. There are a couple of viewing modes possible – one is the Cinematic Wide View which gives you the impression that you are inside a huge movie house watching your favorite movie on the big screen; the Immersive 360-degree experience that will really give you a nice crisp scene at any angle. We’re more interested in the realistic VR games like Herobound, Land’s End and Eve:Gunjack.
The library is still small and can all be viewed or completed in a week or two but it’s a good start. In the end, what will really keep me from using the Gear VR is the availability of interesting content. Otherwise, it will just be left stored in the drawer until something new comes around.