Since releasing a developer’s version of the Gear VR in December of 2014, Samsung has ushered in a new era of mobile virtual reality. The commercial version was finally released in November of 2015 and garnered mixed reviews. The Verge gave the device an overall positive review but noted some not-so-minor problems.
“The quality of the image was abysmal when streaming. It improved once I downloaded the videos, but still looked like a 720p YouTube clip at best…Like almost all mobile VR headsets, this one is low resolution enough to have a slight ‘screen door’ effect. I often noticed the edges of the lens and interior of the headset, bits of light creeping in from outside or reflecting brightly off the lenses — little things that prevented the image from being totally immersive.”
Trusted Reviews is also impressed, but not blown away by the Samsung Gear VR.
“For anyone interested in purchasing a VR headset and who’s already a Samsung flagship owner, the Gear VR is a no-brainer. It’s easy to use and the content selection keeps growing. There’s plenty of appeal here. But perhaps those not already packing a Galaxy in their pocket should look elsewhere for their first VR experience,” says critic Sam Loveridge.
It appears that the screen resolution appears to be the biggest factor in making what are supposed to be immersive experiences not so immersive. The Gear VR uses Samsung devices such as the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge. These phones have 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution screens, which look amazing until you put it in the Gear VR, where the screen is blown up right in front of your eyes.
Perhaps a 4K screen would take away the low-resolution screen door effect but would also hurt battery life. And besides, nobody needs a 4K screen on a smartphone, which is why Samsung might release the Gear VR as a standalone device that doesn’t require a smartphone. Variety has the news.
“Samsung’s plans for virtual reality go beyond the company’s current Gear VR headset: The company is working on a standalone virtual reality (VR) headset that will incorporate positional tracking similar to the technologies now available on higher-end headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, revealed the company’s head of R&D for software and services Injong Rhee during the company’s developer conference in San Francisco Wednesday.”
However, Rhee says that the tracking may not come for another couple of generations. Although the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift already have hand and head tracking, they are far more expensive and require high-powered computers to be connected to.
Even though the current Gear VR isn’t perfect, it has caused a lot of love and excitement on Twitter.
Do you own the Samsung Gear VR? Tell us what you think about it in the comments section.
[Photo via Daryl Deino]