Samsung have made no secret of this year’s developments in their accessories range, which have been designed to complement the latest Galaxy smartphones. Among the range, which includes 360° cameras, is the highly-anticipated Samsung Gear VR. The concept of Virtual Reality has been the stuff of science-fiction for decades, and devices like Samsung’s are bringing those fictions into reality at an impressive rate.
Even when people first imagined virtual reality, it is doubtful we had any idea of what could be achieved by it. Perhaps we looked forward to being able to explore immersive virtual environments, but the scope of Samsung’s VR device is far beyond initial expectations.
What’s the Samsung VR Headset Like?
The trendily conspicuous headset of the Gear VR is a dark-coloured snorkelling-mask kind of device, which provides a seamless and entirely encompassing virtual reality experience. Connecting simply to your smartphone (and compatible with most models) by slotting into a fixture at the front of the mask, the Samsung VR is exactly what we’ve been eagerly awaiting.
The latest models of Samsung Galaxy smartphone have been boasting their incredible screen and colour quality, and of course their famous curved screens, and all of these features are brought into full eye-popping resolution when paired with the Samsung Gear VR. With an extra wide field of view, Super AMOLED display and realistic head-tracking movement, the Gear VR makes for a pretty unique technological experience. Plus, it costs less than £80 – not bad!
So, the display and viewing experience is nothing short of mind-blowing, but a poorly designed headset that digs in behind your ears or around your face makes for a serious anti-climax. Thankfully, Samsung considered this carefully, and paid close attention to feedback when it came to perfecting the feel of the Gear VR headset. Weighing only 318g and softly foam-cushioned around the edge, the new phase of Gear VR has been improved even more by widened interface and larger buttons. The strap is of adjustable Velcro, so the device can be used by adults and children alike.
Gaming and cinema with Samsung Gear VR
Because of the partnership of the Gear VR and the smartphone, virtual reality is not restricted to specially-designed sequences or programmes. First stop is gaming: this sort of experience has only ever been replicated by those big bulky arcade games that enclose you and rock you about as you play. But never have players been so immersed in their games, and in POV gaming, this is a seriously cool prospect. You feel as if you really are your character, and become an active part of the scene.
Next stop is the movies. At cinemas, viewing pleasure can be blighted by others present, or bad seating. Imagine having the entire cinema all to yourself, and becoming absorbed in your favourite films. The Gear VR is particularly great if watching a movie by yourself and for epics with grand visuals to get lost among. And to top it all off, there are specially designed movies to pick from as well.
What’s the Future of Samsung VR?
The concept of Virtual Reality is an immensely popular one, and the Samsung Gear VR marks one of the preliminary steps in a market that is only going to grow. Gear VR is expanding, so the catalogue of games and movies is set to receive new additions on a regular basis.
The competition is present, but not exactly what you’d refer to as fierce. Other, lesser known companies have designed and released rival virtual reality devices, which are also compatible with various iPhone and smartphone devices. However, you can end up paying into the thousands (yes – THOUSANDS!) for a different model that really offers very little extra. Samsung are at the top of their VR game at the moment, and their Gear VR devices offer one of the best quality virtual reality experience currently available.
That’s not to say that the Gear VR will be for everyone. For those who have a particular soft spot for the more sophisticated top-end offerings such as Oculus Rift, it will be abundantly clear that the higher frame-rates are not comparable. But as Mick Lowe quite rightly highlighted in his review, Samsung’s purpose is not to compete with those at the forefront VR. Moreover, the Gear VR is designed to provide a more mainstream audience with the opportunity to see what’s possible, get them engaged, inspired, and excited about what could happen next. There’s no denying that it delivers exactly that.
The secret to gaining support is ultimately about encouraging users to try it for themselves and there’s some very interesting developments taking place to ensure more people than ever are tempted to try out VR for themselves. Just recently, NBC have announced their plans to broadcast 85 hours’ worth of this year’s Summer Olympic Games from Rio over Galaxy Gear VR, with footage coming from a range of events and locations. Moreover, they’ve given exclusive VR rights to Samsung users and devices, and promised 360° viewing for both the opening and closing ceremonies. Looking to break the VR broadcasting mould, NBC are promising their audience a ‘like-you’re-there’ viewing experience, unrivalled by the biggest, fanciest TVs.
This is particularly good news for those who bought their new Galaxy handset this month, as Samsung offered free Gear VR devices to all new customers, ensuring that there would be as wide an audience as possible for the Olympic festivities. However, it is only available with Samsung’s premium phones and there’s very good reason for this. Put simply, a lesser phone just couldn’t deliver the high resolutions, quality visual experience and powerful processors that the Gear VR experience demands.
Pioneering moves by the veteran broadcasting company like this just goes to prove the potential VR devices have, and how big a part of our everyday lives they could become in the future. Samsung’s Gear VR is proudly taking centre stage as a major stepping stone for those who are new to the Virtual Reality experience and has the potential to bring an entirely new following to the party.