The Gear VR is one of those rare products that everyone has to try for themselves to see how awesome it is.
Russell Holly, my esteemed colleague and a man who is sometimes correct about any number of things, has been telling me just how great Gear VR is for a while. You might have seen or heard him extolling the virtues of Samsung's entry into the world of virtual reality. He never stops, and now I know why.
I had been reluctant to try Gear VR. Not because I didn't want to see what all the fuss was about, but because I take issue with it's proprietary nature. I get that Samsung wants great tech to be exclusive, and it's easy to see why Oculus would want Samsung as a partner, but I'm old school (at least in my mind) and vote with my wallet. If enough people didn't embrace Gear VR then Samsung may decide to open it to other capable devices. Not a popular opinion, and oftentimes not an effective opinion, but I gotta be me.
Now, I'll say right up front I'm not the biggest VR nerd out there. I think it's cool, and silly things like Adult Swim's incredible Virtual Brainload app entertain me, but the idea of strapping a set of goggles to my face and being oblivious to the outside world isn't my bag. I do see why plenty of folks love it, and agree that it's the "next big thing."
Anyhoo, when we all got together for the best company picnic thingy ever in Atlanta, Russell slid up next to me and put a Gear VR on my face. I don't even know what phone was inside it. Editor's Note: It was the Note 5. He then grabbed my hands, dropped a controller in them, and told me to click a button.
A game started up. I have no idea what game I was playing — Editor's Note: It was Eve: Gunjack — but it was like something I'd never experienced before. I was shooting spaceships. Spaceships that came from all sides. It brought new meaning to the word immersive. It was incredible.
The graphics were a little "jaggy" and nothing resembled reality at all. But the package as a whole — the motion, the feeling of depth and the interaction itself — was off the charts. I felt like I was there, actually shooting tiny enemy fighters in my little 360-degree universe. I have nothing to compare it to, and my words really don't do it justice. But it was amazing.
I was shooting spaceships. Spaceships that came from all sides. It brought new meaning to the word immersive. It was incredible.
I even tried to mess things up. I snapped my head around as fast as I could, tilted everything as close to 90-degrees as possible. Things still ran flawlessly. This is one of the most exciting things Samsung has ever delivered, and they deliver a lot of stuff.
I now have a Gear VR of my own, and I snatched a Note 5 from Phil to use it with. He won't miss one. I've used it a lot more than I ever thought I would, and found a few things out about myself. I can't do "realistic" VR. There's a National Geographic video in the Gear VR app where you're viewing the world from the underside of a helicopter. It's too immersive, and the disconnect between my eyes "moving" while my body is still makes me hurl. Big time hurl. But games (and I love games) are awesome, and the Oculus store makes it easy to get them. I love this thing.
I still wish Samsung would open it up for other brands. In fact, I wish that even more because it's so good. But I can't deny that it's a draw into the Samsung ecosystem. Especially with so many being given away with the Galaxy S7.
If you get a chance to try a Gear VR, even if you're not a Samsung fan, jump on it. I think you'll like it.
- Gear VR review
- The Best games for Samsung Gear VR
- Inside Samsung's Gear VR web browser
- Gear VR vs. Google Cardboard