Samsung Gear VR
Samsung and Oculus have partnered to create the Samsung Gear VR headset, which uses Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. Using the Samsung Gear VR is relatively simple in its design. Simply open the front, slide the phone into the headset connecting it to the microUSB port within the unit, snap it shut and experience virtual reality that you slip onto your head. There is no need for bulky cords or to be connected to any other devices, unless you purchase the version that comes bundled together with a Bluetooth game pad. Though having an optional Bluetooth game pad is nothing of a holdback in comparison to the tethering requirements of the Oculus Rift or Sony’s Project Morpheus. The Rift requires a PC while Project Morpheus requires a Playstation 4 in order to make use of the VR content.
Relying on just the Galaxy Note 4 to use the Samsung Gear VR could pose problems for the Gear VR system, as an Android smart phone can only do so much. This is especially true when compared to a PC or PlayStation 4, both of which offer more power, as a gaming PC or console can offer higher end technology than current smartphones. Additionally, the limitations of having just the Android operating system means that those developers are a bit limited in the reach possible with software developed for the Gear VR.
One thing worth noting is that the display of the Galaxy Note is a step up from the display on both the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. The Note 4 offers a 2560 x 1440 pixel display with a 96° field of vision. In comparison, the Oculus Rift offers 1920 x 1090 pixels with a 100° field of vision. Project Morpheus has a split resolution of 960 x 1080 per eye for a combined resolution of 1920 x 1080 and has the lowest field of vision at only 90°. The Samsung Gear VR headset uses an accelerometer, gyrometer, geomagnetic and proximity sensors, but their actual functioning seems a bit limited at this time. Oculus Rift’s DK2 unit offers a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer for internal sensing and a near infrared CMOS sensor for positional tracking. Sony’s Project Morpheus is more limited as far as sensors go, stating to only have an accelerometer and gyroscope.
For Samsung Galaxy Note 4 owners, the cost of the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition depends on the option they choose: the standalone for $199, or the bundle which includes the aforementioned Bluetooth controller for $249. Both options include a 16GB microSD card. This is not a bad price for either option if you already have a Galaxy Note 4 in your possession. If not, you’re looking at the additional price of the phone, which is $699 on Amazon without a service contract. Slated for release by the beginning of 2015, the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition appears to be available to consumers sooner rather than later. Unfortunately the same doesn’t go for the Oculus Rift system, which is currently selling as Development Kit 2 (DK2) for $350 dollars. At this time, no price or release date has been mentioned for Sony’s Operation Morpheus.
With Samsung Gear VR having the advantage of being released for consumers ahead of both Oculus’ and Sony’s virtual reality systems, and the price range making it easily affordable enough to purchase and use for enjoyment of virtual reality without being tethered, They are expected to impact the market quickly and in a big way. Limited options for software, however, could pose a problem until more is developed. Still, it’s an exciting time for those who have waited many years for virtual reality to become a tangible reality beyond the simplistic Google Cardboard which, while impressive in its own right, doesn’t hold a candle to the Samsung Gear VR, which we are happy to list as the iReviews top pick for 2015 best virtual reality headset.
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