Friday, March 25, 2016

A look inside Samsung's VR Gear


At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the lines to try out Samsung’s latest virtual reality headset were so long that I never got my turn. But thanks to the folks at Verizon, I’ve spent the past few days exploring a world of 360-degree images, games, and videos.

Verizon Solutions Manager Eric Del Valle
demonstrates Samsung's VR Gear
Samsung’s new VR Gear is a significant improvement over the headset that the company released last year. It’s lighter, more comfortable and easier to operate.

Unlike cardboard viewers and other simple VR headsets, the Gear VR comes with built-in technology. For example, it has a motion sensor and a directional touch pad built into the side of the goggles. Most headsets have no controls at all.

The headset is built to work smoothly with Samsung’s Galaxy 6 and 7 mobile phones and the Galaxy Note 5. The phone snaps into a cradle and immediately connects with an app from Oculus, the Facebook-owned company that has been leading the move into virtual reality for consumers.

The Oculus app gives you access to VR games, a collection of 360-degree still photos and to your Netflix account, which turns the small display on the Samsung phone into a giant screen in the center of your field of vision. It makes watching video from the small mobile phone display comparable to watching it on a monster flat screen in a dark room. Connect the phone to Bluetooth headphones and you have a completely private experience.

The newest Galaxy phone also shows improvements over recent models. The new non-removable battery charges faster and last longer than previous batteries. Expanded support for external memory lets users add up to 200GB of storage. And the S7 is also water-resistant, but without the annoying plastic door that never seemed to stay closed on older Galaxy models.

Both the phone and the VR Gear are available through Verizon at its stores and online. The S7 or S7 Edge with 32GB of internal memory costs $28 a month for two years and the VR Gear costs $99. There’s more details at the Verizon Wireless website.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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