Tech

Samsung Gear VR (end 2015)

The new virtual reality helmet Samsung Gear RV, designed with the help of Oculus is the third model launched by the Korean brand in the space of one year. The latter, having reached a real maturity, is to be finally ready for primetime with a range of games and applications worthy of the name. Offered at $ 99 in the United States, Gear VR Version 2015 is available at the same price in France: 99 euros. It is compatible with Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Edge S6 + and the Galaxy Note 5.

The first thing that we recommend to those who try a Gear VR is to sit. Unlike virtual reality helmets of the type of Oculus Rift Vive HTC or that connect to a PC, the VR works with a smartphone, which limits much less movements and can lead to blunders …

Samsung Gear VR

2016 should see the arrival of three major products: the Oculus Rift, HTC Viva and Sony PlayStation RV. We tried them all. And yes, they all offer a much more realistic illusion, as you would expect from a headset powered by a computer or a PlayStation 4. But meanwhile, the Gear VR provides the best experience of virtual reality really available, with Bonus freedom to take it anywhere. Owners of a compatible terminal Galaxy, gamers and new can be tempted.

Mobile Virtual Reality

The “mobile” aspect of this type of virtual reality helmet We left a mixed review. On the one hand, use it anywhere shows that there is no fear of ridicule … It is indeed often the case. But on the other, this “technical” solution is much more convenient than those that require a connection to a computer. You can take the helmet with you everywhere and all you need is a smartphone to enjoy. Simple and effective.

This new version of Gear VR is lightweight and compact. The headset is compatible with four Samsung smartphones: the Galaxy Note 5 Galaxy S6 S6 Edge and Edge + S6

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Samsung Gear VR

Once the mobile installed in its housing in the helmet façade, Oculus application launches automatically. It is this which gives access to applications and games. When looking at the application directly on the smartphone, it appears as two split images. But seen with the headset, the double convex lenses create an optical illusion that merges the two images to give 3D. We do not wear glasses but our colleague Scott Stein CNET yes. He tried the new VR Gear and managed to adjust it so that it was difficult with the previous model.

The optical illusion associated with motion sensors that follow the movements of the head create a really convincing immersion sensation. The wearer of the helmet VR Gear feel transported into a new dimension and the best games and applications you will want to stay there as long as possible.

You should know and be aware that the Samsung made depends on the smartphone model used. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge and 5.1 inch screen offers a smaller field of view than the Galaxy Note Edge + 5 and S6 and 5.7-inch display. But conversely, the smaller display screens have a density (pixel density or resolution) higher: 577 pixels per inch against 518 pixels per inch

Samsung Gear VR

We made most of our test of the Samsung with the Galaxy Gear VR Edge + S6 and we did not notice any particular problem with the resolution of its display. Preparation of the phone is powerful enough to handle the different types of existing content, fast action games with more “calm” videos.

Controls and control for games and applications pass through the touchpad placed on the right side of the helmet. A system that works very well. Its surface is molded to facilitate the placement of the fingers and facilitate movement in the right direction. A “back” button is placed just above the directional pad. It was moved slightly to the right from the previous model to be more accessible. The elastic headband that layer on one ski goggles is always easier to adjust. As for the vertical strip which runs over the top of the head, it is no longer equipped with the plastic support which made it uncomfortable. It is now even possible to remove if you do not want to spoil her hairdo.

If developers are going to have a lot of work to adapt to new ergonomic codes of virtual reality, we can already that the best games available on the online store Oculus are very pleasant. You can use a Bluetooth joystick if one wants to find a use feeling, gameplay, classic. But be aware that playing virtual reality remains different from what we know on a computer or a console. In sound, opt for a Bluetooth headset remains the “must” to amplify the feeling of immersion. The sound from the speakers of the smartphone is obviously not as striking and effective.

Samsung Gear VR

We repeat, but it is much better to sit. The Gear VR does not have the same tracking technology of head movements that Oculus Rift or HTC Viva , which means that one can not look around in all directions. We can not lean forward or back, which can lead to situations where the action gets a little disjointed. This is the case for example of the game “Oculus Arcade” that can play classics such as “Pac Man” or “Sonic”. Unable to bend to approach the arcade. If no cable allows the movement is at risk of hitting objects or persons nearby. Hence the interest to sit …

also sure to adjust the headset. Samsung may well say that the ventilation was improved, if the headset is a little loose, moisture comes quickly to form. Please have also a microfibre cloth as fingerprints on the smartphone screen obvious once enlarged by the helmet of lenses.

Remember to activate the mode “do not disturb” on your mobile. We can not count the number of times we were interrupted in full play with a message or SMS.

Samsung Gear VR

Last advice, keep your charger nearby. Virtual reality is greedy, very greedy. It drastically reduces the battery life.

Playing in virtual worlds

We tried a few video games present in the Oculus Store. There are real pearls. “Bazaar” (Temple Gates Games) you install on a flying carpet with the task of catching jewelry and food while fighting enemies. The action would probably be easier to control with a mouse, but it is much more fun and immersive way. We also had fun with “Gunjack” a FPS shooter ( First Person Shooter first-person shooter with subjective point of view) that takes place in space.

Samsung Gear VR

But our favorite game is a genre much more peaceful. This is “Land’s End”, an exploration game way “Myst” which can control the head and eyes. The player must explore and discover worlds, find hidden passages in a very meditative atmosphere. A function particularly liked and convinced us. We hope to see in many games. This is the opportunity to take a photo / image capture what is seen holding the finger on the touchpad. A simple and effective way to share what you see with his entourage.

A private cinema

Netflix is ​​one of the first applications available on the platform. The application installs you in a virtual living room where you watch the program on a fake TV. That’s pretty much it. The amount of 360 degree videos that are available make better use of virtual reality, but we are not yet convinced. The immersive side where we are left to swim with the sharks or in action with Cirque du Soleil is indeed impressive. But it also highlights the shortcomings of the platform.

Samsung Gear VR

Our criticism is directed here to the material that was used to shoot the video clips. 360 The effect is good, but when wearing this kind of helmet, everything is very close and you immediately notice the imperfections. This is the case for example in the film “Kyrios” Cirque du Soleil. The show takes place all around us, but actions that are happening on the sides of each scene is not as sharp as the image that is really in front of you. It spends its time to turn his head for fear of missing a piece of action somewhere. In the end, no one quite enjoy the show but it’s a matter of habit. Let me be clear, “Kyrios” is a very good entertainment, but the art of the video to 360 degrees will have to improve before we can consider watching longer programs.

The Oculus store

There are two ways to find virtual reality applications for VR Gear: Oculus see the application from the Samsung mobile and then install it in the VR Gear and navigate the online store . In one case as in the other, it is not very clear. There are hundreds of games and applications available, but all is not well organized. There are tabs for the best apps, news, contents promoted by Samsung … But there is no search tool if we want to find something in particular.

Prices contents vary between 2 and 10 euros so you have to spend a small fortune to build up a toy library / software library well stocked. Meanwhile promised improvements on the interface of the Oculus Store, it will rely on word of mouth to find the best content. “Gunjack”, “Land’s End”, “Keep Talking” and “Nobody Explodes” are safe bets.

Competition

Samsung Gear VR

When we tried Cardboard on Google, we have praised the concept for its simplicity and ability to democratize virtual reality. This is a very affordable gateway to discover the concept and eventually turn to more efficient equipment. But Gear VR is even better than those little cardboard toys by combining a powerful smartphone with a customized virtual reality helmet. The Oculus Store is perhaps still expensive, but it still offers much better content than Google Play and it will be improving as developers will grow the audience and develop content.

Problem and main asset Gear VR: the need to own a Samsung smartphone. Samsung terminals are a key piece of the puzzle. This means that developers working for VR Gear take into account a specific hardware configuration with a limited number of screen sizes. They also know they are dealing with a specific hardware configuration with a touch interface, the back button and Oculus interface.

The smartphone fastening system used by the VR is promising Gear . It is not impossible that future Samsung smartphone models are compatible and can adapt to Gear VR. A condition however, their screen size and format will not change too much.

We spent a week happily get lost in virtual worlds with the Samsung Gear VR. However, difficult to advise someone who does not have a compatible Samsung smartphone. This would require changing equipment … to “only” benefit from virtual reality. In contrast, those with Samsung phones can run without hesitation. At 99 euros, the Gear VR offers a taste of the future for a very affordable price with quite some applications and games to enjoy.

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