- Really Great Comfort
- Immersive Experience
- Powered by Oculus
- 2 Ways to Control via VR
- Very Limited VR Applications
- Battery Drains a lot
- Dizzy for some users
One of the noticeable development in the whole technology scene is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. The trend is gradually increasing, thanks to Google who kicked things off by making it available to everyone with their Cardboard. Today, we have some of the best in class offerings from some of the biggest companies in the Market. One downside is – it costs a pretty penny. In that case we have these alternatives where we use our smartphones instead. Samsung teamed up with Oculus to make a Virtual Reality Headset for their Smartphone users and they came up with the Samsung Gear VR. I’ve been using it for a while now. The question is – does the Gear VR does wonders for the Price tag it offers?
Find out in this Samsung Gear VR Review.
We unboxed the Samsung Gear VR and the video is live on our Facebook page, you can watch that to know what’s inside.
Design and Build Quality
In terms of design, there’s not much to talk about because usually all the VR headsets looks almost the same. It has a cuboidal box structure that holds all the essentials – basically your phone. Comparing it with one of my personal VR headset, this particular one isn’t as boxy as you think. In fact, in terms of look – The Gear VR is very appealing. It has a curved design all over it and the finish sure is fine.
Moving on to the build quality, the Gear VR is constructed in plastic over all but has a matte finish to it. Thus giving it a bit of a premium finish. The knob that’s used to adjust the focal length is very smooth and there’s not much hiccup. On the side, the Gear VR has buttons that’s tactile and nice. The clip that let’s you connect the phone is solid but it is a bit fragile, so better be careful when you connect your device properly. The whole headset is well put together and it doesn’t feel flimsy.
One of the important thing about Virtual Reality Headset, is the comfort. The Headset has two elastic bands with Velcro strapped together. This will allow the headset to hold it in place. Thanks to the Velcro, it’s easier to adjust and use the headset right away, so that’s good. As for the viewing area, the headset is covered with a soft padding that also is attached with a Velcro – it’s washable so that’s great. The padding is soft and nice – doesn’t put that strain over your face and gives you a decent amount of comfort.
The other important thing about the Gear VR headset is the weight. The lighter it is, adding a phone would give it a nice weight and not too much pressure. I use a Samsung Galaxy Note8. Connecting it and wearing it was comfortable and wasn’t as heavy as I thought it’d be.
By now, you must be aware – the Gear VR does not use the Samsung UI to navigate around. The headset uses Oculus VR Interface, that literally replaces the system’s UI the moment it’s connected. The User Interface for the Gear VR is called Oculus Home. Take note, this particular Oculus app is not available on Google Play because it uses a custom build. The moment you connect your Galaxy Device to your device, it activates and opens up a new settings page where it will ask you to install a bunch of applications, which is about 400-500MB. The Oculus Home activates QHD in order to give the best experience possible – it’s also done so that you don’t strain your eyes. So, it makes complete sense. The Gear VR has 101 degrees of Field of View.
The User Interface is rather straightforward – right up – you’ll see three panels – with new suggestions, friends and a category panel. Right below these three is the control center where you can access the settings, screenshot, go live and many more. Honestly, it takes a bit of time to adapt to the UI as it can be a bit messy but it’s well put. What makes the experience even interesting are the 360 wallpaper. The UI offers very selected wallpapers but it looks pretty good. I do wish that there’s an option to use my own 360 degree wallpaper.
Control & Navigation
There’s two ways to navigate with the Gear VR. First is the controller on the headset itself. On the right side, it has a gesture pad with Home and back button. The second option is the controller that’s included with the Gear VR. It looks like the Oculus VR controller but smaller. On the top, you have a gesture pad and yes, it’s clickable. Below that we have the Back and Home button along with a Volume controller.
The Oculus Controller is motion gesture enabled – so, you can use it to move it around like a trackpad or even when you play a game of your choice. If your left hand is your dominant hand, worry not. There’s an option in the setting where the Oculus Home allows you to change the hands you want to use your controller with.
Since it’s Oculus Home, there should be a lot of option right? Honestly, it’s a mixed bag. One thing I like about the Oculus store is how well organized it is. You have various categories – like Entertainment, Games, Music and much more. Even though the Oculus VR uses your smartphone, it’s hard to access any VR content that you have in your phone memory. Thanks to Samsung, you can download Samsung’s application to access your phone apps. Other than that, most of the applications in Oculus Store is not free. Also, it’s not as affordable as you think.
But during my time, I did find a bunch of app to use – Facebook 360, Netflix, Samsung Internet, Brick, Temple Run VR. The experience on these apps are amazing. Facebook 360 allows you to watch 360 videos from Facebook in VR. Netflix VR let’s you watch your favorite shows on a huge TV in VR. Samsung Internet allows you to navigate through the internet. Since Oculus does not have YouTube app, this is your only choice. The games I played required me to move my controllers – my hands to interact with it.
I have to say, I am impressed. It was fun to interact and play a game. Temple Run VR on the other hand uses the Gesture Pad on the controller. Have you ever seen that monster up and close running beside you? Well, now you can – even get eaten alive. I didn’t experience any nauseating or unbearable experience. But some of my friends who tried it, couldn’t use the VR for more than 45 mins. It’s because VR in general still gives a bit of dizzy feeling.
The Gear VR is powered up with the help of your Smartphone. The phone uses QHD+ and since all the sensors become active in order to make sure it works fine – the phone does get a bit hot and watching a 30-minute episode on Netflix VR – drops the battery from 90 to 70% right away. Yes, it does use a fair bit of battery. Good thing is that the Gear VR has a USB C port in it – so, you can charge while you play or watch what you like.
That’s the Samsung Gear VR. Was it a great experience? It is. Especially, if I were to compare it with all my previous experiences – this one is fun. The Viewing experience is enjoyable and thanks to the added comfort, it’s not painful or irritating. The only thing I personally didn’t like is how exclusive Oculus Home feels – with just limited applications – it’s going to be super boring and purchasing the Games doesn’t really make sense to me because for the price tag it offers, it doesn’t seem to be a worthy purchase.
Sure, it’s a great start but I hope it gets better over time. Also, if it wasn’t for the Samsung applications – I don’t think I’d use it that often. So, in that case – Samsung did a great job in filling the gaps which Oculus failed to do so. For RM 469, it’s a no brainer. I’d get one just to have some fun with my friends and with my family. If you ever want to experience a good Virtual Reality experience, the Gear VR will not disappoint you. Make sure to get a bluetooth earphone like the Sudio Niva we reviewed to have a completely untethered experience.
Just take note that the Gear VR only works with selected Galaxy Smartphones: Galaxy S9 | S9+, Note8, S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6 and S6 edge. It also works with A8 and A8+ (2018).