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Ars: Samsung Gear VR Is Today's Best Virtual Reality 74

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung took a distinctly different tack from Oculus VR in developing virtual reality tech. Whereas Oculus has a dedicated device, Samsung simply has a high-tech piece of headgear that you strap a Galaxy Note 4 phone into. A review popped up at Ars Technica after a month using the device, and they say it works surprisingly well. Quoting: "Though the weight of the two units is comparable, the Gear VR benefits from a strap system that distributes that weight on the upper forehead and the back of the skull rather than through an elastic death grip around the eye area."

They still say a purchase is hard to justify, simply because the content selection is lacking. But as that improves, the price tag will become worth it. "Simple, minimally interactive virtual reality experiences like The Deep, BluVR, and Titans of Space have become go-to apps when passing the Gear VR around a party for friends to check out. It's incredible just sitting in place and following along with your gaze as sea life or entire planets fly by in sharp, well-rendered, 360-degree glory."
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Ars: Samsung Gear VR Is Today's Best Virtual Reality

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  • There are some impressive things in the works.

  • by MrDoh! ( 71235 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2015 @06:45AM (#48809883) Homepage Journal
    Heck, can even order a 'nice' version from Amazon for 20 bucks, drop in your phone, done, you've got a VR headset. Pretty amazing how well it actually works.
    • by javilon ( 99157 )

      When Google's Project Tango [google.com] is ready and the hardware is shipped in phones, Google cardboard will have positional tracking. And since it has a camera, you can use it both for virtual reality and enhanced reality apps. You will be able to run around with the headset (as opposed to Occulus Rift where you are tethered).

      If your phone has Project Tango hardware and a good amoled screen with high resolution, and if the manufacturer implements a high refresh rate, you will have a lot of what the Occulus Rift has i

      • If your phone has Project Tango hardware and a good amoled screen with high resolution, and if the manufacturer implements a high refresh rate, you will have a lot of what the Occulus Rift has in terms of image quality

        ...and if the hardware has high latency, half of their users will report headaches and severe dizziness that last for days after using it.

        Occulus limitations are there to provide an extremely low latency, which is needed to reduce the above effects. Full immersion in a VR environment has diso

        • And having used the latest version myself in a tech demo at CES, even Oculus suffers badly from latency, not to mention absolutely shockingly-low resolution that makes it feel like a 1980s video game. Sorry, but I'll be sitting out this round of VR entirely; we need much greater processing power and resolution before VR becomes anything more than a momentary distraction that is quickly forgotten.
          • Are you basing your opinion on the DK1 or the DK2?

    • I'm holding out for the cutout on the back of a cereal box.

  • I wouldn't get a Samsung smartphone anyway, not until they give up on that cancer called TouchWiz.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Then Avoid HTC. they have a throbbing tumor called Sense and the freaking Blinkfeed crap.

      Oh and HTC M8.. STILL on 4.4.3 because they cant bother with rolling out updates. Typical scumbag HTC.

    • I like Samsung hardware but their forced bloatware is really pissing me off.

  • by rodrigoandrade ( 713371 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2015 @06:53AM (#48809909)
    Call me old fashioned, but once I get home from work, I want to sit on the couch, grab a gamepad and a beer, and play games. Not jump like a fucking monkey, not wave hands in the air like a cheerleader, etc.

    VR seems to be more work than fun, especially if you want to get the fully immersive shebang, which will likely require that 360-degree treadmill thingy and a nice surround sound system.

    Thanks, but no thanks.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2015 @07:10AM (#48809941) Homepage

      Not jump like a fucking monkey, not wave hands in the air like a cheerleader, etc.

      You're not alone; none of us want to bring our work home.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      there's no need for that. "vr" works just fine for sitting on the couch with gamepad in hand. it's just a more immersive display, there's no fundamental need to only use it with treadmills and all other kind of silly shit that non gamers seem to dream up.

      the best game expriences I had with the ver 1 oculus were mouse and keyboard games. official tf2 (at least the first patches for it) fucked it up by tying up/down looking into the head movement - WHO THE FUCK CAN PLAY A MATCH LIKE THAT?

      that(mouse controlli

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      My great great great grandfather use to hate coming home and getting entertained by these new fangled technology things. Seems way more work than its worth, like this pong video game. Why would anyone want that?

      Yea like we all are the same and the *only* time we ever do anything is after work. Now get off my lawn you old geezer. I want the kids to play on it.
      • Your great great great grandfather was long dead when Pong was invented.

        Seriously, can you imagine ANY setting (besides an arcade parlor, which are few and far in between nowadays) where a gaming VR headset makes sense? Are you willing to buy more than one for when friends come over to play VR Wii sports? Are you going to plug it in a car's 12V accessory adapter to play during a long trip?
        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          Whoosh.

          Because if you don't want it, no one else will? Don't be an idiot. Let the younger more interesting people play.
    • VR seems to be more work than fun, especially if you want to get the fully immersive shebang, which will likely require that 360-degree treadmill thingy and a nice surround sound system.

      It is more work than most realize. I was working on VR tech 15 years ago. The graphics have gotten better but the fundamental problems with it remain. Foremost is that the use cases for it are VERY limited and even as a piece of kit for entertainment the novelty wears of very quickly. It's one of those technologies that sounds pretty cool (and is cool up to a point) but most people are going to go "huh, neat" and then never bother with it again. There is almost no use for it in most businesses aside fr

      • I worked on a PDA-phone hybrid 15 years ago. These things are ugly and useless and expensive and will never take off!

        • I worked on a PDA-phone hybrid 15 years ago. These things are ugly and useless and expensive and will never take off!

          Ok prove me wrong. Tell me what the killer app for immersive VR is that will make it something more than a geeky niche toy. I'd be happy to be proven wrong so dazzle me with the use case that I'm not thinking of. Show me with examples specific to VR rather than snarky examples of unrelated technologies. I'm all ears.

          Seriously, I'd be happy to be wrong but I doubt I will be.

          • Well, be happy because you are wrong. Many businesses don't need VR - like the corner market and such - but many businesses do. Anything design related like engineering companies, architecture firms, all the way to travel and entertainment. Hospitals and medical research, automotive, and so on. All will benefit greatly from being able to see and explore things they never could before. This puts million dollar 3D visualization facilities in reach of just about everyone.

            And while there are many lining up t
    • by DrXym ( 126579 )

      VR seems to be more work than fun, especially if you want to get the fully immersive shebang, which will likely require that 360-degree treadmill thingy and a nice surround sound system.

      The biggest issue with VR is it's extremely limited what kinds of games you could play with it. Racing games - yes. Spaceship / fighter games - yes. Some sedentary sports simulations - yes. First person shooter games - yes but now the cracks start to appear - how to reconcile actions like crouching, running, turning, looking between the virtual world and the real one. Basically the further you go from a seated experience, the worse it's going to become. I also expect that holds for the amount of nausea indu

  • Dizziness (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Camembert ( 2891457 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2015 @07:12AM (#48809945)
    Out of curiosity I bought the Stooksy VR set for my iphone 6+. It is a Google cardboard variant from plastic foam, and despite its crude appearance it has some good features: ability to adapt for the distance between your eyes, a focus ability and very useful for me: big enough to accommodate my glasses.
    In practice it is really impressive (considering that there are not that many great apps on the ios store that can handle google cardboard), the first time I tried Hiroshi Jump and the Zeiss cinema app I was grinning like an idiot.
    But I soon found that I was quickly getting dizzy when using the more interactive apps or rollercoaster side by side movies,as the difference between what you see and feel is so big. Think about playing Doom for the first time, but in my case an even stronger dizziness. How do others experience this?
    • Re:Dizziness (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2015 @07:32AM (#48809995)

      This is probably related to the delay between the sensors in the iphone detecting movement, and that movement being reflected in what is rendered on screen. Also the accuracy (or lack of) in the iphone's sensors may be an issue.

      One of the achievements of Oculus' technology (which is used in the GearVR) is to use dedicated sensors with high accuracy and to work hard on reducing what they call "motion to photon latency".

      The Oculus DK2 kit goes further by having a separate camera which tracks LEDs in the headset, further improving the positional accuracy. This isn't part of the GearVR solution though, since it is designed to be a mobile product.

      I can use my DK2 for long periods with no dizziness even in applications with lots of movement, such as roller-coaster simulations.

      • by rabbin ( 2700077 )
        Are you able to play FPSs without motion sickness? And with a mouse? I've heard from others that for games in the first person perspective, VR is only fine if you're character is in a fixed, seated position.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          VR is only fine if you are character is in a fixed, seated position.

          That's what you wrote.

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
        The DK2 also uses a low-persistence OLED screen running at 75Hz. This is a far cry from a run-of-the-mill phone's 60Hz screen. This significantly reduces motion blur, which can also help with dizziness.
        • DK2 uses a Galaxy Note 4 screen. So GearVR is good in that sense. Though I doubt the phone can push out pixels as fast as your PC.

    • Do you believe that the dizziness has more to do with tracking latency, 3D display perspective, or a combination of both?

      • Do you believe that the dizziness has more to do with tracking latency, 3D display perspective, or a combination of both?

        It's a combination effect and you forgot the disconnect between perceived motion and actual motion which is what gives most people motion sickness. The proportions of each depend on the particular person. I used to work with this stuff in my day job some years back. The stronger you make the 3D effect (increasing perspective) the harder it is for people to adjust and the more likely you are to cause headaches and disorientation. I know for me I could increase it to a point and then my brain simply had

      • Dizziness is due to your eyes saying to your brain "hey I'm moving", while your inner ear says "no we are not"...

        • Sounds like instead of current VR tech approach we need something that simulates REM sleep. I don't I'd opt for a gen 1 implant but maybe gen 3 or 4...
      • GP here: in the apps that I tried there was no lagginess nor was the accellerometer too inprecise, it sas simply a matter of living an illusion of movement that the body doesn't feel that gave me an unpleasant feeling. A VR app where I just looked around without moving (like, an aquarium app where sharks swim around you, or the zeiss cinema app) work very well without nausea.
        So these are my experiences with the iphone 6plus and the stooksy set, I expect that the Samsung experience will be roughly similar.
    • Yeah, I'd love to try this -- I'd be happy to spring for a Note 4 and the mount. But I'm one of the poor unfortunates who's highly susceptible to VR sickness. Not full-blown cookie-tossing, but twenty minutes in a CAVE or other immersive environment is enough to leave me feeling crappy for the rest of the day.

      I'm hoping super-low latency, high frame rates and short persistence will produce something I can use without getting sick, but I don't think it's right around the corner. A shame, too; I've been wanti

    • by jeti ( 105266 )
      The intensity of these problems varies a lot between users. For many people, they lessen over time. Oculus claims to have solved the hardware and driver side of the problem (at least on the Rift) so that anyone can have an experience without sickness / feeling dizzy. However, this also requires that the software holds back and doesn't show any extreme movements.
  • "Sorry, we don't support the Galaxy 4 firmware anymore, better upgrade! Don't forget to link your account to your new device!"

    I want a monitor, not a phone, thanks.

    • I just bought a new 'phone' last week. Put it in Airplane Mode where it will remain locked for the foreseeable future. I wanted a monitor, not a phone. It was only $40 and a pay-as-you-go model sporting Android 4.4. It's one heck of a decent monitor for the price I paid.

  • The occulus team have put a massive amount of resource and effort into identifying and minimizing motion blur, input lag, head tracking lag and other artifacts that cause nausea and other subconcious effects that make their unit less useable and/or realistic.

    Consequently there is literally no way that you do or even could ever get the same experience just from strapping a phone to your head. This is yet another example of sloppy unprofessional reviewing based on only the most superficial and immediately app

    • I'd attribute it to a slashvertisement.

      That said I wonder if for some people it's just not an issue or significantly less of an issue anyways? I have several friends that I can never get to play First Person games with me because they get motion sickness almost immediately. They can play them on consoles for some reason but on a computer they start getting the urge to vommit and headaches. While I've never played a game that induced any kind of motion sickness symptoms at all. Would I be fine with bad VR im

    • Samsung developed this with Oculus. And DK2 uses the same screen. I expect many techniques from Oculus' research to be present here too.

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