I’ve been a fan of virtual reality since the early days, in fact I even worked in a VR lab back in the late 90s where we mostly just played games on early VR rigs.
Ever since the Oculus Rift came out, I’ve been a fan of it’s premise, and I’ve owned a couple models, which all worked fine.
My biggest problem with the Oculus was wires though, you sit in a comfortable chair, and move around but the wires can limit you.
That was what brought me to the GearVR, Samsung’s partnership with Oculus to create an Oculus-powered VR rig.
Games are pretty fun with it: you can race against other players in a mario-cart type race environment, build entire worlds with Minecraft VR, fight against enemies in space with End Space, Eve: Gunjack or Anshar Wars 2, solve puzzles with Darknet or go bowling. You can also use a variety of apps such as Netflix, Hulu and Oculus Cinema, or even talk with others via AltSpaceVR. There are other games and apps, but those are the main ones I’ve been enjoying.
Google’s Cardboard initiative follows a similar idea but it’s not quite as nice as the GearVR, though Google has promised a Gear-like headset for all android phones.
GearVR has some handy pieces to it, aside from the lack of wires running to a computer, it’s powered entirely by your phone, and has a touchpad on the side of the unit that lets you control most of the apps.
Obviously, the units that mount to your desktop will have better games, but that’s actually just fine by me, I’ll take portability and wireless convenience anyday.
But there are a few things you need to make this experience better.
1. Enable airplane mode and close background apps.
- Enable airplane mode on your phone, and then turn wifi and bluetooth on. This helps against some overheating issues that have been reported and lets you use the rig longer.
- Close all the background apps on your Samsung device before you start GearVR. This will free up resources and make your programs run faster.
- Connect and enable any devices you plan on using before you start using the GearVR. Once you’re in, you cannot install or connect devices. Also, make sure they are within arm’s reach so you can locate them by touch while you’re using the device.
2. A comfortable place to sit
- Sit in a comfortable position that allows rotation. A swivel chair is ideal because it will allow you to turn freely while in virtual reality. Stay away from dangerous ledges or sharp objects as virtual reality can be quite disorienting.
- You want a nice pair of headphones, I actually enjoy noise-cancelling headphones for this, but any comfortable pair will do.
- Wireless headphones may sound like a great idea, but they tend to have some lag between device and ear, so wired is the recommended.
- If you plan to chat with people in apps such as AltSpaceVR, then you also want to get a pair that includes a microphone.
4. Game controllers
The GearVR can be used with any pair of standard or bluetooth headphones. That being said, some users have reported audio lag with bluetooth, so wired headphones are recommended. Additionally, the GearVR can be used with Bluetooth Controllers, and some applications require the use of one (noted in content list). Confirmed compatible controllers include:
- Samsung GamePad
- Moga Hero Power
- Moga Pro Power
- Ouya Controller
- Amazon Fire Controller
- ipega Wireless Controller
Additionally, any standard bluetooth controller should work, as long as it follows standard button mapping and control schemes.