Samsung Gear VR hands-on: I saw the future and I liked it

Alongside the Note 4 and Note 4 Edge phones, Samsung wowed the crowds at this year’s IFA technology show with Gear VR, a virtual reality headset powered by your phone.

Created in partnership with Oculus, the virtual reality company recently bought by Facebook, Samsung has created what we can only describe as the most impressive smartwatch accessory ever.

The company’s new Note 4 phone slots into the Gear VR, providing the sound and picture, while clever optics and accelerometers to monitor your movement look after the rest. We played a game with the Gear VR where we were in control of a space ship.

Moving your head (or, indeed, turning around entirely) controls the direction the spaceship flies, while tapping the side of the headset fires its laser beam. The experience is completely immersive and utterly addictive. We felt none of the eye-strain associated with using Google Glass for the first time, and moving around to around oncoming asteroids felt completely natural.

Read More: Samsung Note 4 Edge hands-on

Samsung says the visual effect is the equivalent to standing two meters away from an enormous 175-inch 3D television - only it’s all around you, whichever direction you look.

In comparison to the Oculus Rift, the Gear VR benefits from being entirely self-contained, with no need to plug it into your television or laptop to get a video feed; but the downside is that movements where you lean forward into the environment are not performed by the VR, whereas on the Rift, leaning forward pushing you deeper into the virtual world.

Despite being referred to as the Innovator Edition, Samsung assures us that this isn’t akin to Google calling Glass the Explorer Edition and it essentially being an expensive and unfinished prototype for consumers to buy. No, the Gear VR is a 100% finished product, not just a proof of concept, and it will go on sale.

Samsung remains tight-lipped on that date - and the Gear VR’s price - but we suspect it could well go on sale before the end of the year.

Yes, you feel a bit daft - and yes, you really look weird - but we were hugely impressed with the Gear VR and hope developers create enough high-quality games to make Samsung’s efforts worthwhile.

This could well be the future of gaming.

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