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Samsung Gear VR (2016) Review

THE GOOD Affordable. Easy to attach. Great audio-visual quality for a phone-based VR accessory. A growing library of apps and games. This model is more comfortable than earlier versions, and you can charge the phone while using it.

THE BAD Only works with a specific collection of Samsung phones. Oculus PC game and app library isn’t cross-compatible with Android or Google Cardboard VR ecosystems. Lacks the positional awareness of PC-based VR rigs. Limited inputs mean it’s less immersive VR than you can get with larger, more-expensive PC-connected systems like the Rift.

THE BOTTOM LINE The latest Gear VR adds compatibility with Samsung’s latest phones and cements its position as the best mobile VR product right now.

And the Price : (99.99 $)

Samsung Gear VR Product Link For buy: http://www.samsung.com/us/explore/gear-vr/

I remember putting the Samsung Gear VR on my face and being blown away by the experiences it created. It was my first take-home doorway into virtual reality. That was December, 2014.

VR has since become a commodity everywhere: in high-end PC-connected systems like Oculus Rift and Vive, in cheap disposable phone accessories like Google Cardboard. There will be game console-ready stuff in PSVR, soon, too. But in the meantime, the Gear VR abides, a veteran in this fast-moving landscape.

The newest version, which connects to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and a handful of older Galaxy phones, is really pretty much the same. The connectors and a few finishing touches are different. (To be clear: if you’re happy with any one of the earlier Gear VR models, you’re fine — the changes are tweaks, not overhauls.)

I said “the same,” but that’s not really true at all. Oculus and Samsung — the headset is a joint venture — have steadily continued updating the software and app library in Gear VR. There are hundreds of apps and games, and so many types of streaming-video experiences via apps like Oculus Video, Within, Jaunt and others, that the amount of things to do seems inexhaustible.

There’s a small price to pay. Many apps cost anywhere from $1 to $10, and it’s hard to vet out the quality. Some games are well worth it (like Anshar Wars, Minecraft or Neverout); others feel buggy and low-quality. And your taste in VR games and apps might not be the same as mine. The aesthetics of virtual reality are still evolving and hard to figure out without trying some stuff. And — VR aficionados take note — just because Oculus helped design the Gear VR doesn’t mean that your PC-based Oculus Rift games will be playable here, and vice versa — there’s very little software crossover, although your Oculus account is the same and there are a growing set of intercommunicating functions…and a few apps like Minecraft that will play nicely together.

But, as a $100 accessory for your phone — provided you have a Samsung phone that works with it — Gear VR is still the best mobile way to dive into other worlds. And, for me, I still use it more than the obviously better, but harder to set up and share Vive or Oculus Rift.

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The same, with a few tweaks

Gear VR comes in a new blue-black design that looks more like the higher-end PC-connected Rift, but it’s the same concept as the white-and-black accessory it’s replacing. You slot your phone (a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ or Note 5,) in, strap it on your face, and put on headphones.

The new Gear VR has a slightly improved field of view: 101 degrees, versus 96 degrees. I couldn’t discern the difference. The focal wheel, which works with glasses or without, is easier to turn, and the headset fit more comfortably on my face. The side trackpad’s a bit larger, smoother, and is easier to find with your fingers. There’s also a new button above the trackpad that’s a direct Home button shortcut, sitting next to a “back” button that helps navigate the Gear VR menus and settings.

The new Gear VR exists because it now works with the USB-C connected Note 7, and other Samsung phones that may use it going forward. You also get an easy-to-attach adapter to plug in an older Micro-USB phone instead. There’s also a second USB-C port which Samsung says will work with future accessories. Right now, those don’t exist…but I’m intrigued. In the meantime, that port helps charge the Note 7 while it’s on your face. Using Gear VR burns through the phone’s battery.

FYI, the Note 7’s rear camera works better in passthrough mode, if you ever use it, to see around while still wearing the headset. I do this once in awhile when I’m lazy and want to grab something on my desk.

VR’s rising expectations

Gear VR is still, absolutely, the best VR you can get on the go or with a phone. But it’s so good that my expectations start to shift. Suddenly, I forget I’m using a phone. I think I could play games that are as good as the Oculus Rift. And I can’t. The graphics obviously aren’t as capable, but also there aren’t any good controller options. Gear VR has a side-mounted touchpad on its headset, or you could use a paired Bluetooth game controller. Neither are as good as using an Xbox controller with a Rift on a PC. Deeper games with more advanced controls feel jerky-jerky.

In AltSpace VR, for instance, which throws people using Gear VR, Rift and even Vive together to explore virtual spaces and chat, I found my limited controls frustrating. I found myself in a gaming parlor where a Vive-using avatar handed me a sword with one of his floating motion-controller game wands. I gladly took it…but all it did was float in front of my face when I pressed my controller’s button.

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And moving around the room wasn’t fluid, because unlike PC VR systems, the phone-based Gear VR doesn’t have positional tracking. In other words, if I lean forward or bend down, nothing happens. And to walk across the room, I need to move my game controller stick or use the trackpad on the side of my head. With games and apps tuned to Gear VR, especially basic 360-degree video players, that’s not a problem. But as games get more evolved, it feels like a drawback. It makes me want to dive back into using Vive and my gaming PC.

Of course, these are totally different experiences. Gear VR is a $100 accessory for a phone — that’s cheaper than a good pair of headphones. The Rift and Vive are $600 and $800…and that doesn’t even include the required high-end gaming PC.

The current Gold Standard for mobile VR

Again, now that other options are here, the Gear VR feels more like a VR Starter Pack. It’s an excellent on-the-go toy, and it’s the most finely tuned hardware in mobile. It has the best selection of high-quality mobile VR apps, too. It also just might be my favorite VR platform right now, because it’s so simple to set up and carry around. I can share it with others. I can take it to other rooms. It’s low-maintenance.

PC-based VR is far more impressive, and transformative. But most people still won’t be able to afford it — or need it. Until that level of VR drops down to a reasonable (and more polished) level, Gear VR still seems like the way to go.

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Google Cardboard Review

THE GOOD Google Cardboard is a fun, inexpensive way to turn nearly any Android phone or iPhone into a virtual reality viewer, allowing nearly anyone to get in on the fun.

THE BAD The extremely simplistic experience means it’s only as good as your phone — don’t expect this to measure up to full-fledged VR goggles like Oculus, Gear VR or Vive.

THE BOTTOM LINE Google Cardboard isn’t a contender for the VR throne: it’s the ambassador that’ll make us care about virtual reality in the first place.

And the Price : (15.00 $

Google Store Link For buy: https://store.google.com/product/google_cardboard

Hold Cardboard up to your face and it’s hard to escape the notion that Google is, in a word, kidding.

The virtual reality competition is spending big bucks on what’s quickly shaping up to be the next frontier in electronic entertainment, and they’re expecting us to do the same. Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion, and you can expect to spend about $1,500 for the total Oculus experience; Vive , from HTC and Valve, is a similarly pricey PC-tethered affair. Samsung’s Gear VR headsets will set you back $200, and those work only with select Samsung phones.(To Read More Check here)

 

The latest version of Google Cardboard, by contrast, is a glorified cardboard phone case that uses a pair of glass lenses and an app to drive your virtual reality experience. It will work with just about any Android or iOS smartphone, and set you back $30 — or however long it takes you to root through your garage or basement for the right parts.

No, Cardboard isn’t a serious entry in the virtual reality arms race. It’s something far more important than that: a dirt-cheap, accessible way to bring this oft-promised, largely indiscernible technology to the masses.

Downloading new worlds

The Cardboard experience is driven by the apps you’ll find on Google Play or Apple’s App store. And Adult Swim’s Virtual Brainload VR app for Cardboard is a handful of buttery, salty popcorn dumped directly onto your cerebral cortex. It’s an overwhelming celebration of color and sound; also little nauseating, but mostly wholly incomprehensible. Mystifying colors are paired with haunting sounds capped with a cynical homage to Americana, before you’re dumped unceremoniously back where you’ve started. And like popcorn (or whatever your preferred snack is), it’s over far too soon.

This, of course, makes it a perfect Cardboard experience: Cardboard (and popcorn) is meant to be shared, passed along to friends and curious onlookers so they can see exactly what the big deal is. And there are already plenty of experiences on the Google Play and Apple App stores. None are remotely as psychedelic as Adult Swim’s offering, but there’s still some fun to be had exploring space, or zipping around in a Mercedes Benz.

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First-hand experience remains virtual reality’s biggest hurdle. I, for example, remain convinced that augmented reality experiences like the one offered by Microsoft’s HoloLens are cooler than VR. I don’t have a HoloLens lying around, but I can point you to a handful of AR apps, readily available on your smartphone, to make my case.

The HTC Vive is a marvel of technical wizardry and game-design prowess, a union clever ideas and impressive hardware. But it was locked behind closed doors as a tantalizingly brief demo, doled out to a select few at industry events. And unless you’ve ponied up a few hundred dollars on Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR prototypes, or have well-connected friends, the best virtual reality can offer is a constant stream of folks saying “It’s great, take my word for it.” That’s no way to sell a fundamentally different entertainment experience.

Spreading the word

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That’s precisely why Google Cardboard is so cool. It’s an ambassador, a gateway to this mysterious world of virtual reality that a few folks keep talking about, but most of us haven’t experienced. And it’s packed into an approachable little package: light, cheap and goofy enough to be approachable.

I suppose it helps that the design is clever. Version 2.0 of Google Cardboard, introduced in late May at the company’s I/O developer conference, simplifies the design of its predecessor — a ridiculous statement, because we’re talking about folded cardboard here. But it’s true. The magnet that the original version used to interact with apps is replaced with a trigger that taps directly onto the screen. The new Cardboard is slightly larger to accommodate bigger phones, but it also folds down into a slightly more compact shape.

Download the Cardboard app or some of the many of the VR demos that are popping up on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, pop in a phone, and you’re ready to go. There’s no sweaty headband to wrangle and no cables tying you down. It’s light, cheap and works with the hardware you likely already own.

Did I mention it’s cheap? With Google Expeditions, educators will have a relatively inexpensive way to take their classroom on a quick trip to the Grand Canyon, or the Louvre. You can send your friends to space, or send your kids to Mars. You can leave Cardboard on a shelf, like I have, and blow the mind of every friend who’s a little curious about that little box with the Google logo on it .

You’ll get what you pay for

The Cardboard experience will vary, based on your device. I tested the app on my Nexus 5, a Samsung Galaxy S6, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and an iPhone 6. As expected, devices with higher-resolution displays are going to fare better. Some of my colleagues also experienced a bit of lag while they were looking around in various apps, which left some of them feeling a bit nauseous.

You also aren’t getting anything remotely close to the experience you’ll have with proper virtual reality hardware. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive can both track your position in space, allowing you to truly walk around virtual landscapes, peering under and around objects. Samsung’s Gear VR offers creature comforts like a focus wheel, so you can adjust the focus to your liking. And while I’m not keen strapping on a headset, adjustable bands will ensure that these headsets fit perfectly on your head. Headbands also leave your hands free to hold a controller or other input device, paving the way for more robust gaming experiences.

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Gateway goggles

The Google Cardboard hardware isn’t perfect. It always takes me a few seconds to focus on a phone’s display when peering through the lenses, and the new trigger mechanism, while superior to the ViewMaster-esque magnet on the side of the first version, feels a little flimsy for my tastes — I suspect that’ll be the first part to break.

But conceptually, Google Cardboard is kind of perfect. Virtual reality, and all of its pitfalls and potential, is something that can’t truly impress (or disappoint) until it’s been experienced firsthand. Putting demonstration goggles for more robust VR gear in retail shops and hosting events will help bridge that gap, but there’s no better marketing tool than hearing “You’ve got to try this” from a friend. Thirty bucks is a small price to pay for a taste of what’s to come.

Videos:

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Virtual Reality

So what is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality is a computer-generated environment that lets you experience a different reality. A VR headset fits around your head and over your eyes, and visually separates you from whatever space you’re physically occupying. Images are fed to your eyes from two small lenses. Through VR you can virtually hike the Grand Canyon, tour the Louvre, experience a movie as if you are part of it, and immerse yourself in a video game without leaving your couch.

Your five best options for VR

VR comes in a few different forms. There’s the cheap headset that works with your phone and there’s the much more expensive option that requires a powerful PC or gaming console and some space to move around. Whichever path you choose, here are your best options.

Google Cardboard

The easiest and cheapest way to try virtual reality, Google Cardboard is just a piece of folded cardboard with some cheap embedded lenses. When you stick your phone inside and press it up to your face, you can feel like you’re in another world.

Samsung Gear VR

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The best smartphone-based VR headset (for now), Samsung’s Gear VR costs just $99 (£80, AU$159) — assuming you already have a recent Samsung phone. It has more sophisticated sensors than Google Cardboard and is relatively comfortable to wear. Plus it’s got a decent library of purpose-built apps and games.

Oculus Rift

The $599 Oculus Rift (£499, AU$649) is far more immersive than strapping a phone to your face. It tracks your head in all directions, so you can lean in and get right up close to virtual objects. The catch: It requires a powerful gaming PC to generate its graphics, along with a tether leading up to your head.

HTC Vive

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The ultimate VR experience — for now — the $799 (£689) HTC Vive lets you reach out and grab objects in virtual reality, and even walk around a room. Again, you are tethered to a powerful gaming PC, plus you need to clear your living-room-furniture and plug in loads of cables to fulfill your holodeck dreams.

Sony PlayStation VR

The affordable alternative to an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, the $399 Sony PlayStation VR (£349, AU$550) will let you grab things in VR without requiring a pricy gaming PC as intermediary. Instead, it works with the PlayStation 4 console that you might already own. Just know you’ll need to add controllers, and you shouldn’t expect the graphics to be quite as good as those of the Oculus or Vive.

Here are the ways you’ll be able to use VR

Virtual reality isn’t just a viewmaster for your video games. It’s an entirely new medium whose true purpose is slowly being realized. Here are a few of the ways VR will be used over the next few years.

Entertainment

From films made by Hollywood to live-streamed concerts and theatrical experiences, VR has become a place to view videos that surround you. New cameras are being created to capture these VR stories, and tools to upload and livestream them are growing in number. Soon, these experiences might not even seem like films at all.

Artistry & design

Imagine building a real home with virtual tools, or designing parts for a new car as if it already existed in the real world. Imagine painting a 3D masterpiece while collaborating with friends around the globe. Apps and wand-like controllers are already making VR an amazing playground. Soon enough, these tools could become indispensable for a new generation of 3D design.

Gaming

Obviously, video games are one of the main applications for virtual reality as of today. But VR will give game designers the freedom to take games to incredible new places. They can also find new audiences now that players can just reach out and touch things, and turn their head to look, instead of mastering a complex controller covered with joysticks and buttons. (You can visit How to build a VR-ready PC Post)

Education & simulation

Medicine, chemistry, physics, astronomy: VR can model the world in an incredibly visual way. And, it can also allow those worlds to be expanded and shrunk, played with and entered. Students could take a class trip to ancient Egypt, or try an open-heart surgery without any risks: VR simulations can offer practice runs at techniques, designs and ideas.

Tourism & exploration

Virtual tourism is the next best thing to being there. You could visit Paris, Mars, or the bottom of the ocean. Whether you’re watching a 360-degree video someone shot, or a computationally generated 3D simulation, you can shut out the real world and replace it with your destination of choice. One day, you may be able to explore your own memories as well — imagine recording them with a 360-degree camera, then looking around to see what you missed in the moment.

Psychology & meditation

VR can become a private space for your mind — a place to relax and think. Or it can be a place to explore something uncomfortable in a protective simulation. Virtual worlds can be very removed from the real world, or be labs to explore human behavior. Studies have shown that VR is so distracting, it can be a surprisingly effective painkiller compared with traditional medicine.

Real estate & shopping

Imagine being able to tour a prospective home from miles away, walking right through the property as if you were there. Imagine placing life-size models of your own furniture into that house, to see if they fit. Now imagine walking into a virtual clothing store with infinite shelf space, where you can see and try any shirt, blouse or pair of shoes on sale. Shopping will never be the same.

Social & telepresence

Just because you’re inside a headset doesn’t mean you’re alone. You could jump into a video game avatar to chat and play, or commute to work by inhabiting a telepresence robot with cameras mounted on its body. Can we connect and meaningfully communicate across distances that way? It’s not clear, but developers are already experimenting with the possibilities.

Google Territory

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2016 was a big year for VR, and it’s about to get bigger. Google will be launching its Daydream VR platform in a matter of weeks, Bloomberg reports.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is said to be investing big money on content for the platform. Much of this is going toward development of video games and apps, licensing sports leagues and shooting 360-degree videos, many of which include YouTube stars, according to the publication.

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Daydream is being built into the Android 7.0 Nougat operating system, which launched this week. It said back in May that Samsung, HTC, ZTE, Huawei, Xiaomi, Alcatel, Asus and LG had agreed to make “Daydream ready” smartphones.

The idea of the platform is to be the Android of VR. Google will provide a VR platform for other companies to build hardware around, like how it provides an operating system, Android, for companies like Samsung and HTC to build smartphones around.

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However, we’ve not yet seen any headsets designed specifically for the platform.

Google was contacted for comment but did not immediately respond.

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