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Samsung Gear VR - Galaxy Note 8 Edition
on September 25, 2017
I'll start off by giving a brief overview of what types of VR headsets currently exist (if you are familiar with these and just want to read specifically about the Gear VR then scroll down to the section titled "Gear VR").
There are many Virtual Reality headsets in the market right now (Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, etc.). These typically fit into two categories: tethered vs. mobile.
Tethered: Devices built from the ground up for VR. As such, they typically have a higher quality image than mobile VR headsets but require a somewhat powerful machine to wirelessly connect and "tether" to in order to operate (such as a PC or gaming system). These are also typically more expensive and can range from $300 - $800 dollars.
Mobile: Imagine quality relies on the specs of the phone or device you place inside it. Because of this the image isn't nearly as high quality as the tethered devices but that's not to say they aren't impressive and immersive. These are typically cheaper than the tethered units ranging from $13 to $150. Mobile VR headsets are also incredibly convenient and portable (normally all you need is your phone and your headset). Another feature that isn't typically mentioned with these is that devices (such as the Gear VR) have a phone cast feature that allows you to use virtually all of your phone apps and games through the headset (including texting, Spotify, Super Mario Run, internet, Kodi, Youtube, etc.).
Gear VR: I used this with my new Galaxy Note 8 and enjoyed the heck out of this little headset. For something similar to a face mask it is quite comfortable and lightweight. One thing to note however is that if you are hot or sweaty the lenses can fog up from your body heat getting trapped in the headset. You can try to take it off and wipe the lenses but it will just continue to fog until your face isn't giving off as much heat (so it might be best just to give yourself a couple minutes to cool down).
Though the Gear VR comes with a touchpad remote, many games in the oculus store require a Bluetooth wireless gamepad controller to use so make sure you factor that into your budget if you are planning to use the headset for gaming. At the reasonable $130 price point, the image quality impressed me; the pixels of the phone are still somewhat visible but this may continue to be improved as phone screen resolutions continue to evolve. Note: the phone can still be charged while using the device by plugging in a charger to the charging port (USB - C) located at the bottom of the headset.
Overall, I found this nifty headset to be a great product at a great price. At a considerably cheaper price point than the HTC Vive and the PlayStation VR, its features and quality did not fail to impress. You haven't watched a movie until you watch one through a VR headset with high quality around-ear headphones. It's like having the best seats in a theater but without the hefty ticket price - all from the comfort of your couch/bed/bus/airplane/car! Bonus points for being able to watch movies in bed next to someone without disturbing them.
• Relatively inexpensive for a VR headset
• Can be used on-the-go with your phone
• Comes with wireless controller
• Can charge your phone through the headset (with cable)
• With Samsung PhoneCast you can operate most of your phone apps and games through the headset
• Sleek, comfortable, and lightweight
• Lenses can fog up from heat
• Many games require the purchase of an additional Bluetooth game controller
• Image quality isn’t as refined as higher end VR headsets (such as the PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift)
• Only works with Samsung flagship phones (with the Galaxy Note 8 requiring its own specific edition of the headset due to its size)