A walk in Rome, a meal in Paris and an evening in space. Welcome to the era of Virtual Reality . Manufacturers are launching their alternatives to discover an immense world, with almost endless possibilities. And Samsung is one of the leading firms in this field, with an option that allows us to open our eyes to virtual reality without having to make a strong extra expense. The Samsung Gear VR glasses are on sale for 100 euros , and serve as a support for the high-end Samsung Galaxy to convert their contents to 360 degrees. These models include the Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, or Samsung Galaxy S6 (among others). Behind its manufacture is Oculus , a company that offers us an increasingly complete store with all kinds of content. 360-degree videos, games , photographs of the most distant corners of the planet that seem to come to life, concerts that are lived from the first row ...
Enough to justify those 100 euros beyond the first shocked reaction? We review the most interesting content that you can find today in the Samsung Gear VR store after trying them for a while.
A lighter design
100 grams lighter than previous Samsung Gear VR, two positions for different Galaxy
Yes. You have to admit it. They are not the glasses that you would wear to go out. But Samsung is working to reduce the weight of these glasses in each new generation. Specifically, 100 grams below the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition, the previous delivery of the glasses for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge up to 318 grams . A difference that is noticeable after the passage of minutes and that allows us to wear them more comfortably.
However, the key here is in the very concept of the glasses. They serve as a support for a telephone , and not as a separate equipment. That prevents us from having a beautiful and light design . But of course, it also reduces the price drastically compared to models like HTC Vive (900 euros) . Its look has a futuristic touch, with the use of black on the front and inside and with white on both the top and the bottom.
To adjust it, several velcro straps are used that we can place in different positions. It is not a very fancy system, but it works well. And, in the end, that is the best news if we are going to use the glasses continuously. At the top we have a focal wheel. This wheel is what helps us to focus the image and adapt it to our vision. The big problem with all the glasses that are coming out on the market is what to do with that large sector of the population that needs glasses to see clearly (and among which I include myself). Be that as it may, the ability to manage the focal length does a lot to enhance the experience. The full dimensions of the Samsung Gear VR glasses are located at 92.6 x 201.9 x 116.4 millimeters.
The mobile phone is housed in the front . One of the great novelties of these glasses is a simple system to change between two positions and adapt to mobiles of different sizes (we will leave you the complete list later). As for the hook itself, the MicroUSB port is used on the one hand and the equipment is gently pressed on the other until it is fixed . The mobile can be released at any time by lifting the tab.
Interface and touch panel
Control via touch panel, intuitive interface, option to see the "real world" through glasses
Very good but… How do I handle myself with these glasses? On the right side of the Samsung Gear VR we have the two elements that will serve to move us within the virtual experience. On the one hand, we have a touch panel similar to that of a laptop keyboard that allows us to move between the different menu options or continue with a press. We also have a physical backspace key , which in addition to moving backwards is used to open the general menu when it is held down for a couple of seconds. And all this finished off with the movement of the head itself, which serves to place the pointer in any corner of this virtual world. These elements are completed with a pair of buttons for raising and lowering the volume.
The first time the glasses are used we will face a simple tutorial to get hold of the controls. The truth is that the handling is intuitive and in a few minutes you can get to move in this universe very easily. On the home screen we are in the middle of an apartment with sea views. Floating in front of us are several large cells with access to the Oculus store , exclusive Samsung content, the library, and various shortcuts to the apps we have installed.
At the bottom there are three options that repeat the ones we already have above. Home for the main screen, Store for the Oculus store and Library for the content we have uploaded. At any time from an app or from the store itself, we can press the back button to return to the main screen. By the way, when we press the button for several seconds for the general configuration we will have the option to change values such as volume, brightness or configure the Do not disturb mode so that the mobile notifications do not interrupt the experience. Also, from here it is possible to connect the Passtrough Camera, a function that lets the contents pass to the other side (like a pair of glasses) but with a very curious surrealist touch.
Glasses for Samsung's high-end terminals of 2016 and 2015
But before going fully into the apps, it is important to know which models are compatible with these new Samsung glasses. It is clear that it is an accessory for the company's high-end models . It's geared for both this year's strong launches ( Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 edge ) and prior year's launches. This includes both the Samsung Galaxy S6 , the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge + and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 .
Applications for all tastes
Concerts, sporting events, videos and photos in 360 degrees, a personal browser to surf the net, Netflix ...
And now yes, we are going to focus specifically on the main content that you can find today in the Oculus store and Samsung's offer for its glasses.
Samsung Gear 360
It is not yet available for sale, but this camera that has already been officially presented can represent a very big qualitative leap in virtual reality. Basically, what this sphere-shaped gadget allows us is to take photos and videos in 360 degrees . This is achieved thanks to two cameras with 15 megapixel resolution that are located on both sides of the sphere , and that use a fisheye lens to cover all the space. Creations can then be poured directly onto the phone and enjoyed on Samsung glasses. Without a doubt, a very great attraction to remember our favorite vacations as if we were really there, or to share our sports activities with friends.
Imagine being in the front row at your favorite singer's concert. Just one meter. With the feeling of being able to touch him at any time . And all this from the living room of your house. Concerts are one of the great assets of virtual reality. That feeling of reality, of closeness, can make you relive a unique event over and over again. To show us the future of this field, Samsung is currently sharing two songs from the alternative group Years & Years . In both options we moved to a concert hall, with the possibility of enjoying the song from the front row of the audience, from the stage itself or flying over the scene. The visual spectacle is fantastic, but personally I am left with the desire to experience the sensation inside a stadium with thousands of people.
Oculus 360 Photos
You like to travel and you don't have enough time or money. You don't like to travel, but you love to see the most remote corners of the planet. Oculus 360 Photos brings you snapshots of many parts of the globe. Big cities like Paris or London, the ruins of a Roman amphitheater in Algeria, the exotic places of Bangladesh … With this app you have a very complete gallery of photos in 360 degrees. Once you select one of them, you can move your head in all directions and feel that you are really there. These photos take turns in a presentation that you can stop at any time. By the way, if you get the Samsung Gear VR glasses I recommend you stop also in the 3D Art section.A beautiful compositions 3D (and 360) that will take you to magical places.
Oculus 360 Videos
Here we are faced with a collection of 360-degree videos that come from all kinds of sources. For example, we have videos from social networks such as Facebook or Twitch . We also find videos that have been recorded on news portals such as CNN or Gizmodo. Another point that can give a lot of play is that of movies recorded in 360 degrees, although at the moment there is no title available . We have already been able to experience what this movie viewing will look like with some short examples that are available from the Oculus store itself. For example, with a small walk through one of the scenes from the movie The Avengers Marvel. The interface is quite clear, but it seems to us that there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Yes, it would be a bit silly of us to look the other way to one of the most anticipated uses for virtual reality. It is clear that the field of porn could become a real gold mine for companies that know how to position themselves as the reference in this field to be explored. Having the feeling of living your own adult movie can hook a really wide audience. Of course, for the moment access to this type of content is very limited. We recently told you about VR Bangers , a company that has specialized in shooting erotic movies in 360 degrees . And there is also the option to take advantage of the handful of videos on YouTube in 360 degreeswith risque content. But we are still in the first steps of this world that promises many novelties in the coming months and years.
YouTube and browser
Speaking of YouTube, this is one of the great handicaps of the Samsung Gear VR virtual reality glasses so far . Right now, we don't have a dedicated YouTube app in the Oculus store yet. Of course, that does not mean that we cannot see the 360 videos of this popular network, although to achieve this you have to take a certain detour. The application used to view the videos is Samsung's beta browser . The steps to follow are simpler than it might seem at first. This program revolves around a speech recognition tool (by the way, with great finesse).
Once we get to the YouTube page we look for the desired video (we have to make sure it is available in 360 degrees). With the video open, we move the pointer with our eyes to the button to go to full screen in the lower right part. Then, in the lower left part of the reproduction we will see different options: 2D, 3D and 360. The one we are interested in marking is the latter. It is not as intuitive and fast as a dedicated app, but the final experience reaches a good level.
Returning to the browser, it is one of the pleasant surprises that we have found in Samsung glasses . A priori, the browsing experience may seem more cumbersome with glasses without a keyboard to lean on. Nothing is further from reality. If what you want is to read news, watch videos or dive through web pages, this browser does its job very well. The cornerstone of Samsung's browser is its voice recognition tool , which works very well. At the top we have options to go forward and backward, start a voice search, mark a favorite, move between tabs or define the zoom. Specifically, we have five different sizes to see the tab floating further or closer to view.
One of the points that we liked the most is the fact that the tabs float and that they can also be changed just by turning the view and pressing on the tab. Without a doubt, a different and very interesting experience that gives us a taste of what sailing can be in the coming years.
Nor could this platform be missing the most important online movie and series portal today. Netflix has been in Spain for a few months, and although its catalog is still quite small, it is an excellent option to spend long periods of time in front of the screen with titles such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Gotham, Beasts of No Nation ... In this case, the interface is identical to what we enjoy on the PC or on TV, but with a fundamental difference. The interface is framed on a large television screen inside a cabin . We are sitting comfortably on a sofa, which creates a very intimate and attractive feeling. If you get a chance, it's worth a look.
Circus of the Sun
I was already surprised the first time I tried a Samsung VR headset, and the experience repeats itself over and over again. The Circo del Sol has shared a couple of immersive videos so that we can experience one of its functions in the center of the stage. Extravagant characters, acrobats, dance, music ... A true spectacle of light and color that is worth seeing at least once. In this case, our decision-making capacity is limited to letting ourselves be surprised by what is happening within the video. The only but that can be put is that there are no longer videos available.
A platform that wants to show us the future of virtual reality for sporting events . For example, we can watch a few seconds of a football game or enjoy the repetition of the best plays of an NBA game . This last video is more currado, and we change our position from behind one of the baskets, from a seat in the stadium or at the foot of the track. It must be recognized that it is a portal that is in its first steps, and that still has a long, long way to go. But still, it is very interesting to take a first look at what Samsung glasses can offer us to enjoy our favorite sport in a totally new way.
Probably if we talk to you about Google Street View, this Google tool will sound familiar to you, which allows you to move along places around the world and discover the corners of most cities. Now imagine taking that experience to a world of virtual reality… Well that. StreetView VR uses Google's database for a ride around the globe. From the configuration panel we can manage the zoom, add data from Wikipedia and choose the display quality between low and high. As in the Google tool, we can move through this map by pressing the touch panel when we are looking at the desired direction. It is true that it is not a perfect tool and it can still be polished a lot, but if we want to visit a city or a corner of the planet and we have not had the opportunity ... This is the opportunity.
We finish this first review with another of the fields that may have a great development over the coming months and years. We talk about social networks within a virtual world. There are already several offers of this type, such as Second Life , but the degree of realism that is achieved with an immersive world is much greater . In fact, it can be said that we enter a new universe within human relationships. One of the first virtual worlds that the Samsung Gear VR brings us is that of vTime. In this case, the first step is to create an avatar that will become our image within this network. Later, we can connect with the different users that are within the network and visit different places that serve as a common place totalk or interact with others . One of the advantages is that we can connect a headset with a microphone to chat with the people behind the avatars.
Price and reviews
100 euros, an increasingly extensive set of content, is not a solution to use for long periods of time
Samsung Gear VR glasses are available for sale for a price of 100 euros . Personally, I think it is a fairly reasonable amount if we consider that we are already going to be making a significant outlay on Samsung's leading mobile phone (such as the new Samsung Galaxy S7 edge). For this extra, we have a totally new experience that will take us to all kinds of corners of the planet and that also grows gradually. It is true that it is not the definitive experience, and that we miss the inclusion of control knobs that can allow us to interact more directly with videos and games. In addition, the fact that the engine of this virtual reality depends on the phone itself makes it heat up easily and Samsung itself recommends that we take a break every little time .
However, in a few weeks we should have the Samsung Gear 360 camera here , and that may be the final push for this platform to become an absolute success. And it is that this camera will serve to record our activities in 360 degrees and then enjoy them at any time. Imagine being able to "touch" that perfect moment on your vacation whenever you want, just by putting on your glasses on the couch at home. We are looking forward to testing this camera and experiencing the scope of this new gateway to virtual reality.
Samsung Gear VR
|Model||Samsung Gear VR|
|Dimensions||92.6 x 201.9 x 116.4 mm|
|Colors||Black and white|
|Others||Adjustable velcro sleeves|
Cover to cover the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Edge
Two positions to fit different mobiles
Compatibility and applications
|Terminals||Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge +|
|Apps||Oculus Store, exclusive Samsung content,|
|Resolution||2560 x 1440 pixels (Quad HD)|
|viewing angle||96 degree|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity|
|Settings||Focal adjustment wheel|