Samsung Gear VR - Un-boxing & Review

Oh yeahhh, look what just came! I traded in my Galaxy S5 for the Note 4 a couple weeks ago - just in anticipation of the Gear VR. I've been a fan of VR (Virtual reality) since I was a kid but it's never been something accessible until the last couple years with today, literally TODAY being the biggest step available to the general public.

 I had been playing with Google's Cardboard - which is essentially the same thing but made out of cardboard. It accepts most phones and the app splits the screen in two so that each eye see's the screen separately.  The lenses allow your eyes to focus on the screen being so close to your face and the split screen allows for 3d vision. The sensors in your phones track it's position so what you see changes with where you are looking. This allows for 360 degree videos/ photo-spheres and immersive gaming.

Cardboard was a lot of fun but the quality of the cardboard, lenses and the phones sensors made it less of an experience and more of a toy. There are better cardboard set ups - made out of plastic but they are still dependent on the phone used and it's screen quality and sensors. The Gear VR is specifically tuned to the Note 4's Super HD screen and adds in more sensors to make the time it takes for the device(s) to sense your movement - and then change what's on the screen to being practically imperceptible.

Anyways I dont know why i'm still talking to you - I am going to try this baby out!  Check back for a more detailed review after i've actually used it - and for more about Virtual Reality in general - and what i'm going to do with it!

Project Cardboard:
If you have an android phone getting a cardboard headset (for only about 20$) is about the best 20$ you will ever spend. It's worth getting a nicer plastic one with a head strap. Amazon. 


Initial notes: (I'll turn these into their own sections and add details as time goes on)



  • There are plastic clear stickers covering the lenses - you should take them off first. I didn't realize that and everything was a little blurry.
  • The touchpad on the side is very sensitive - for better or worse. Makes me feel like Cyclops. 

Look & Feel

  • It's heavy-ish on my head but the balance and top strap distributes it nicely. I'll have to play around with it but more comfortable than expected. I wore it for almost an hour and it didn't feel too uncomfortable or heavy it was more the pressure around my eyes than the weight of it. 

  • I wonder why Samsung choose to go with a medal design for the Note 4 - while it feels more substantial and of a higher quality - adds weight to a device where weight would be at a premium. For something that is going to be held on your head? Out of all the devices to be 'plasticy" this seems like the one. Or maybe make two devices - one specifically for the Gear. I've never had a problem with a plastic feeling phone - I understand the weight and advantages to plastic vs 'the look and feel' of medal. I don't think there is an actual advantage and while the phone feels rock solid and looks more expensive - it made me feel uncomfortable holding it without getting a cover - which then just covers up the medal anyways. I think the way to go would be to put out the lightest bare boners phone and then also make covers that would actually enhance the design - and add the medal in at that point. 

Screen Quality

  • Whenever people say that 720p or 1080p are over-kill and not necessary for a cellphone screen - this VR experience is exactly why those are not "too much" but are essential for VR screens. The note4 has a Quad HD 2560 x 1440 pixel display with 518 pixels per square inch - and I can still easily see the pixels. The movement is super fluid but the pixels definitely remind you that you are looking at a screen. It's going to take at least 4k or more to make them imperceptible. The # of pixels required to make them imperceptible depends on how far away the screen is away from the eyes. A 1080p screen that is a few feet away or a 4k screen that is a few inches away could look the same. The more pixels the better so you can view it from anywhere and there is more detail  but the trade off is the processing power required and the electrical efficiency. 
  • The options seem to be either creating really really pixel rich and smaller screens and then magnify them. Or making the screens larger and further away. Two 1x1 or 2x2" vs 1 6-7" - obviously the smaller makes more sense with mobile. 

There is also a technology that projects the image directly to your retina so that your own eyes lenses are used and there isn't technically a screen. This will probably be the future of VR/ augmented reality. It's called: Virtual Retinal Display (VRD) Wikipedia 

The advantages of VRD

  • Potentially very small and lightweight, glasses mountable
  • Large field and angle of view, greater than 120 degrees
  • High resolution, approaching that of human vision
  • Full color with better potential color resolution than conventional displays
  • Brightness and contrast ratio sufficient for outdoor use
  • True stereo 3D display with depth modulation
  • Bypasses many of the eye's optical and retinal defects"

A company called Avengant Glyph is getting ready to start shipping their VRD headsets in early 2015.

Camera Pass-Through

  • The "camera pass through" is reallly freaking cool! It turns on the note's camera and displays it while you are wearing the gear. It looks like you are looking at real life through a .. camera on your head. The potential for this combined with augmented reality is just as exciting as Virtual Reality. It could act like a heads up display that Wikipedias everything you see - cars, products, paintings etc. 
  • They need to make it possible to take photos & video of what you are looking at, to be able to zoom, and take photo-spheres and guided tours. 
  • Another feature I really want that would be really easy to implement would be to view my normal android screen - and interact with it as I would normally so that I could use tumblr, check messages - etc as if i were doing it from a big screen movie theater. Combine that with a Bluetooth keyboard/ mouse and I could literally write this blog from anywhere - on a screen that appears to be even bigger than the one I am currently viewing. 


There are about a dozen so far: The ratings are not how popular or how good they are but how "comfortable" they are to play. Or how woozy they could make you.

I really like to play video games but I don't play any on my phone or tablet - there hasn't been a game that I've ever been able to play for more than a few tries. Angry birds annoys me, and out of the dozen or so games I've tried - none have ever got me hooked. So some of these games may be awesome to some but I may not be the best to judge these types of games.

 I play Starcraft II everyday while I eat dinner - but only the "Nexus Wars" arcade - over and over. No other type of game or even the actual starcraft game itself. I've played Destiny more than any other game of that type. ( was obsessed the first couple weeks it came up - like 8+hrs a day) Call of Duty Zombies and Mario Party and Left for Dead 2 are the others I've played a lot of. I don't know why but for me video games are more like reading books for school - like a mental chore/ challenge and less of a fun thing. I am always looking for a game that really makes me want to not only play it - but keep playing it. I also like games that I feel are teaching me something or enhancing my mental capabilities/ dexterity etc.

 I think VR is the future of gaming - and education. The FREE content at launch is great - and should be factored into the price of the device itself. There isn't even paid content yet - everything is free.

Proton Pulse: An arcade/ pinball like game. Haven't played yet

Romans from Mars: Shoot a crossbow at invaders. Haven't played yet. 

Anshar Wars: Space-Shooter. Really cool - kinda what you would expect but the VR aspects make it something you would actually spend time playing - especially the multiplayer mode. Would be more fun with a gamepad. 

Dreadhalls: A scarry dungeon crawler - you sneak around in the dark trying to escape a dungeon. Haven't played yet..

Bombsquad VR: Looks like a dodge-ball fighting game. haven't played. 

Darknet: This was the first thing I played on the Gear Vr. I almost forgot that I just got the device and was really anxious to check out all the other features and started to get hooked on the game itself. It's a unique puzzel - strategy game that you Cyclops like select things and infect them with viruses and stuff. Really fun and a game I actually want to play. 

Esper (Demo): "A puzzle game set entirely in a single room" I opened it and couldn't figure out what to do and figured I needed a gamepad so i gave up in 10 seconds. I'll have to try it again. 

Ikarus:  "A third person/ first person hybrid adventure game that focuses on atmosphere and storytelling through light puzzle solving designed to es players into VR." I started it realized my headphones weren't plugged in and the Nintendo like graphics and childlike story made me quit before i started it. I'll have to go back to it later. 

Viral Lite: There are these little red robots and you shoot balls at them. It was fun and played like the other games similar to it on phones/ tablets. People who like that kinda game will love it even more in VR. 

Minotaur Rescue Vr: I thought this was some kinda spam or weird tumblr art post - I haven't tried it yet. "classic arcade gaming up to date in style, an arcade shooter." 

Herobound: Third-person adventure game built specifically for VR." Haven't tried it yet. 

Other Reviews:


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