My Thoughts on Samsung GearVR, the new '$99' Announcement and the Naysayers

Samsung GearVR Innovator Editon

My Thoughts and Experience

I tried the S6 innovator edition (pictured above) today with some of the Samsung demos. I thought it performed far better than experiences I have had with Oculus v2 (possibly something to do with the software developed than the hardware though) and it most definitely felt immersive.

As a developer I’m intrigued as to what (non-game) related experiences or ‘serious-game’ applications I could make with it. “What can the Samsung hardware do / handle?” is the question I’m asking myself mostly. As a consumer... I think it is a device which is pretty cool for $99 and if I owned a supported Samsung device would definitely consider picking one up for personal use. Is it a game changer for VR, don't laugh, certain publications like to say this, the game changer for VR is widespread adoption which means a price-point like this but for all devices or enough devices that everyone owns one. VR gets a game changer when public opinion changes not when a product is released. Will this product do that? No, not in my opinion but is this a cool product, yes it most definitely is.

Using the mobile version, pixels were noticeable on small text but it was still legible (better than oculus v2). It definitely felt immersive and I could see myself using one on planes and such along with some nice headphones to watch a film and the like. Would I play games on it or go for full VR experiences? It's definitely comfortable and the latency felt great in the simple demos, the touchpad worked well and the VR menus were awesome, no exaggeration, the menus were AWESOME.

My gut says Samsung devices will fall down on more graphically intensive applications (obviously its only got a phone for horsepower) but I don’t think that this is GearVR’s target market. The ‘virtual cinema’ example they give and the 360 video app seem to be more the market rather than intensive 3D VR experiences. Sure it will have some graphically simple things as well but I'm not really interested in that. I'm curious as to how far the new Samsung phones can go though, definitely.

Common Misconceptions:

This product has a lot of naysayers having quickly flicked through some popular online publications and I most definitely disagree with most of them.

1.

"This is the same as Google Cardboard but more expensive."

GearVR has the following major advantages over Google Cardboard (and similar products):

  • Superior lenses.
  • Focusing adjustment.
  • Gyroscopes and accelerometers.
  • A good touchpad.
  • Great development from Oculus and Samsung to allow for low level improvements to the the Samsung devices and android versions allowing for very very low latency and compatibility.

Basically... people who actually think / say this are honestly very mistaken. The price tag is definitely worth the product in my opinion.

2.

"Why does it only work with Samsung devices, they should have made it work with all Android phones (or at least more)".

  • The low latency and performance is only possible as mentioned above with the access Samsung gave Oculus to co-develop their products to allow superior integration between the VR equipment and the device. All companies would have to do the same or (if its even possible) they would need to be exposed natively in Android OS.

  • Even if the point above was completed somehow, not many devices have the amazing pixel density of the new (and supported) Samsung devices so the experience wouldn't be as good anyway.

3.

Comparing this device in any way to Playstation VR or Oculus products.

Something a lot of people forget is that ‘VR’ isn’t really established as a standard yet and we will likely see many different types which are better and worse at different things. For me, VR is just a visual experience augmented by user movement in an 'immersive' way. There are many ways which this can be done. This is a different VR experience to those products, and yes, it can still be called VR.

Anyway. Those are my thoughts. Discuss / ask questions below if you like. I'll update if something is confusing.

Mentioum