Samsung Gear VR: Worth the Cost?
Like many new gadgets, ads are bombarding you from all directions for the Samsung Gear VR. Pre-order! Buy yours now! It’s the greatest! Which sounds great, but before you go and spend $100 on this latest add-on, you better decide if it’s worth buying.
What is a Samsung Gear VR? It is a goggle-like device that you clip your Samsung Galaxy smart phone on to and are able to view 360 degree virtual reality worlds anywhere you have access to the internet. With the Gear strapped to your head, you can look down and around and see the entire area in a video or game, not just what is directly in front of you as in traditional 2D visual presentations. It retails for approximately one hundred dollars. Content can be purchased from the Oculus store, just like using the Play store.
Well, how do you use it? For enjoying a television show or documentary about flying through space, there’s not much more than sitting back and enjoying the program. You can tilt your head and point at the screen and even share the experience with others using the Gear. They can hear your comments and even see your avatar move around.
For gaming, there is a control pad on the side of the unit, which is decidedly awkward to use for any extended play. You will need to buy a bluetooth gaming controller, an added expense of thirty to fifty dollars, if you want to really delve into head-to-head action programs. However, the experience of gaming in VR really is top notch.
Previous VR products have had difficulty in providing seamless visual effects. Juddering was often seen when the operator moved their head or in high-speed sequences. Google and Samsung have clearly worked through most of those glitches. It does present a pretty awesome experience.
However, like every new entertainment format the biggest hurdle to overcome in the must-have market is the content. The Gear only works with movies, games and shows specifically formatted to appear in VR. So you can’t just dial up your favorite action movie from twenty years ago and go exploring.
The other major drawback for the new VR equipment is your physical reaction. Some people experience motion sickness and headaches when using VR goggles. What your eyes and ears are receiving as information from your surroundings does not match what the rest of your senses think is happening. Your brain can stress over trying to assimilate the mismatch in data. Are there long term effects to your health? That is simply unknown at this time.
Overall, when considering that the latest smart phones are retailing for up to $800, and are being used almost non-stop for a wide array of applications, adding a $100 gadget to the phone’s utility is not an exorbitant expense. Does the Gear deliver? For the content that has been built specifically for VR, yes. It’s a unique experience to explore distant worlds as we’ve only dreamed of in the past. Gaming on the unit is just awesome. However, if you are subject to motion sickness, be prepared to be disappointed.