Virtual reality has become really popular within the last couple of years or so, and for good reason. It provides us with a unique, immersive experience previously seen only in science fiction movies.
Samsung released their Gear VR headset back in November 2015, and while there are many on the market, this particular one is known for giving customers a lot of bang for their buck.
I got one of these for Christmas after it was marked down by 50 percent, and I thought, given the fact that I got a Samsung smartphone the previous year, it’d be fun to have.
The Gear VR allows users to turn their smartphones into a virtual reality experience, however, there is a catch. Users must have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone (S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, S7 Edge and S7 Edge+) in order to use the Gear VR.
The headset itself is nothing fancy, but neither is it unattractive. There is a touch-pad on the right side of the headset that allows the user to control it once it’s put on.
After plugging my phone (Note 5) into the headset and putting it on, it asks me to download the Oculus app and software. After downloading all of the necessary apps and software, I was then able to start my virtual reality experience.
First impressions, I was blown away! Despite the fact that I’m new to the virtual reality world, I was impressed by the detail and realism that the headset provided. When first putting on the headset, it brings you to a sort of homepage where you can access a multitude of different apps, videos and pictures. Unfortunately, while there is quite a bit of free content available, a lot of it has to be purchased, particularly the games.
My favorite content has to be the 360 degree videos that allow me to feel as though I were flying through space or watching a live concert! These videos were the ones I was showing relatives and friends to show them the Gear VR’s capabilities. Watching my grandmother react to a video that gave her the illusion she was surfing off the coast of Australia was confirmation enough that I had asked for the right thing for Christmas!
Ialso enjoyed the fact that the Netflix app was available to download for the Gear VR. When watching Netflix on the headset, you immediately find yourself in a nice, rustic cabin hidden deep in the mountains. You’re sitting on a comfortable, red couch with a cup of coffee, watching your favorite Netflix television shows and movies on a big screen television. It’s how Netflix was intended to be used. The best part is, if I wanted to, all I have to do is put on some wireless headphones, lay flat on my back, and watch Netflix to my heart’s content. The culmination of technology has come to the point that I don’t even have to tilt my head to watch TV.
Unfortunately, the Gear VR is far from perfect. For one thing, it drains the battery life of smartphones when using it. I could use it for a half-hour and find my battery had drained by 50 percent. It also overheats quite easily to the point that it’s incapable of functioning until it’s cooled down again.
This thing is pretty cool, especially considering I got it around $50! Overall, I’d recommend it to those looking for a relatively good VR headset that won’t break the bank.
by Katherine Carter, Opinions editor