The Gear VR is one of the most popular VR headsets. I have had it for one year and it has gotten overwhelmingly better with age.
One year ago I bought the Gear VR Innovators Edition for the Galaxy S6 smart phone. My version was the one step before the consumer version and initially sold for $200 but I bought it when it was on slickdeals for $100. I felt that it was a good price point and was pretty happy with it. Eventually the consumer version was released for the same price and worked with the Galaxy S6, Note 5, S7 and Note 6.
I recommend the Gear VR to anybody with a compatible phone because it’s the easiest way to get into the current VR craze without sacrificing too much quality. Sure you can get a Google Cardboard, but I assure you, the Gear VR is in a class of its own.
Now that there’s a new Gear VR model for $100, I figured I would take a look at how well my headset has treated me over the past year.
Games on the Gear VR
The Oculus store has exploded with quality games for the device. Games like Esper and EVE: Gunjack are quality titles that highlight the Gear VR’s features. While they’re fairly expensive compared to regular Android titles, they do go on sale and I feel they’re worth the price listed. There are a lot of free versions to try out as well so you’re not risking too much. There’s also a Minecraft Title which I have not tried out yet, but a lot of people say it’s worth the 7 bucks.
Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Game is a platforming adventure that requires a controller, but the 3D feels really good. It only has 3 levels which you can blow through in about a half hour, but it’s free so you get what you pay for. Hopefully they’ll have a bigger title soon.
There’s also Temple Run VR which moves really fast and I’m surprised I didn’t get motion sickness. It’s still a really good time wasting title that works with or without a controller.
Apps on the Gear VR
Applications have grown as well since last year. Netflix and Hulu are available for VR viewing pleasure which is a huge boon for the platform. Oculus Video offers a ton of 360 degree video content from Facebook, Twitch, Vimeo and other places. You can even connect your Facebook account and view friend’s videos that they’ve posted and shared. You can then like and share directly from the application. I suggest checking out the Stranger Things 360 video if you haven’t already. The show is pretty cool and the demo video is pretty slick too.
If you like sports, there are a handful of applications that allow you to view them from your headset. While the NBC Olympic app was garbage, there are some MMA, Boxing, and Football games available which could be a look into what could be the future of media consumption.
Enhancing your Gear VR experience.
If you’ve grown tired of the basic experience, you can dabble into Riftcat which enables you to use your Gear VR kind of like an Oculus Rift. While it’s not an absolute 1:1 comparison, RiftCat gives you a lot for what’s essentially a mirroring device from your PC to Gear VR. You can check out the guide here. I have since purchased a high powered wireless card for my PC and the quality has improved tremendously.
I still recommend the Gear VR a year later. The newest version, the black version, offers USB- C which will keep it compatible for future phones and is apparently a lot more comfortable than previous version. If you’re still on the fence, you can pick up the earlier model for 60 bucks if you haven’t already gotten one for free from Verizon or T-Mobile.