Samsung’s Gear VR makes virtual reality much more affordable for users than ever before, after this new product went on sale this Friday for just $99.
The South Korean electronics company has released Gear VR broadly now, after pre-orders had been launched online on Amazon, Samsung and Best Buy starting from November 10.
The manufacturer is the first to introduce a mass-market virtual reality headset, after several other devices of this kind have been too cost-prohibitive for the average buyer.
The device was created in partnership with Oculus VR, a virtual reality technology company which has become a Facebook subsidiary after being acquired in March 2014 for $2 billion.
Gear VR, advertised under the tagline “virtual reality just got real”, promises a completelty immersive experience for its users, allowing them to expand their horizons in unprecedented ways.
Although it’s considered to be a customer-friendly device, it’s still advisable to be tech-savvy before purchasing it, in order to be able to maximize its potential.
At first, the mobile phone must be attached to the front of the headset, and then the Gear VR can be mounted on the face, like a pair of giant goggles, and kept securely in place through adjustable Velcro straps.
Once the device is set up, the next step consists in downloading videos or apps that have been especially developed for this type of virtual reality system.
One such store currently has around 100 programs of this kind, and much of this software is available for free, while a smaller proportion can be purchased in exchange for sums verging from $2 to $10.
Playing the programs will provide access to a string of fascinating 3-D worlds, which are actually digitally created, but appear mind-blowingly real.
The headset wearers feel as if they were indeed part of those settings, exploring those virtual environments just by moving their heads.
In fact, some of the apps are interactive, providing 3D entertainment: a few games, for instance, provide puzzles that must be solved before one can advance and gain access to uncharted territories.
Because of the multitude of images created by the device, from every possible angle, the sensation of depth is extraordinary, and there is also the possibility to identify minute details which would’ve been undetectable otherwise.
By employing headphones, the visual experience is enhanced with auditory sensations, corresponding to the sounds one would normally hear in that specific location.
Video content streaming through Netflix and Twitch apps provides viewers with a much more engrossing experience, especially since Gear VR doesn’t allow keeping other tabs or programs open simultaneously.
While many of of us nowadays have become habituated with multitasking, as a reaction against information overload, the headset eliminates all such distractions, so that users can fully enjoy their experience, while giving their undivided attention.
The consumer-oriented VR headset follows a series of prototypes and other more steep-priced versions. For instance, an “innovator edition”, destined for early adopters and trendsetters, was unveiled in December 2014, at the price of $199,99.
This allowed VR enthusiasts to test the device before it turned mainstream, and it also gave developers the possibility to create new software for it, such as apps or games.
It must be said that although the Gear VR comes with the incredibly low price tag of just $99, other equipment must be used in conjunction with it. One has to have high-quality headphones (wireless ones are ideal), as well as one of Samsung’s newest mobile phones (Note 5, Galaxy S6, S6 Edge or S6 Edge +).
Unless the user already has all these devices, purchasing every item separately so that Gear VR can function as intended could cost approximately $1000.
On the other hand, similar VR headsets require even greater investments, such as the purchase of a top-notch, technically sophisticated work station, with a high resolution display.
Image Source: Samsung