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Six things you need to know about Samsung's Gear VR Headset

Al Sacco | Sept. 4, 2014
Samsung's Gear VR headset provides a truly unique virtual reality experience that's designed to take advance of the Galaxy Note 4's impressive display resolution. But the headset has a notable Achilles heel: It only works with one device.

For example, the right side of the Gear VR headset has a touchpad and separate back button for navigation, as well as volume up and down keys. A focus-control dial is built into the top panel, too, so you can adjust your view for a clearer focus.

4) Gear VR Isn't for Everyone

Samsung is targeting a very specific set of users with the Gear VR headsets -- specifically gamers, film and entertainment junkies, and gadget geeks who seek the latest and greatest tech. The company's first set of related partnerships includes pacts with Marvel, IMAX, DreamWorks Animation, Cirque de Soleil Media and video site VEVO. That paints a picture of the target Gear VR user.

The potential market for Gear VR gets even smaller when you take into account the need for a brand new Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. So while Gear VR is intriguing, it's not for everyone -- at least not yet. According to Oculus, which provides the VR tech for the Gear headset, the first version is "an early-access, beta-version of the device for developers and enthusiasts rather than a final consumer product."

5) Gear VR/Galaxy Note 4 Display Resolution and Immersive View

The Gear VR headset uses the Note 4's impressive display as its own, and as such the Gear VR has a cutting-edge screen resolution -- at least for a device of its kind -- of 2560x1440 pixels. This level of HD is important because it adds to the life-like Gear VR immersive experience.

Gear VR offers a 96-degree field of view, according to Samsung. The headset is suitable for people with both nearsightedness and farsightedness, and it offers "interpupillary distance coverage" of between 55 millimeters and 7 millimeters, Samsung says. (Interpupillary distance, or IPD is "the distance between the center of the pupils of the two eyes. IPD is critical for the design of binocular viewing systems, where both eye pupils need to be positioned within the exit pupils of the viewing system," according to Wikipedia.)

6) Gear VR Works Surprisingly Well

Before I put on Gear VR, I was quite skeptical of the whole idea. The device looked immediately like a shameless effort to sell more Galaxy Note 4 devices and lock users into Samsung's ecosystem -- and, let's face it, it is.

But the fact is that Gear VR works quite well, and the overall experience is impressive.

As soon as I slipped the headset on, the vivid colors of the Coldplay concert on the display gripped my attention. It looked stunningly lifelike, and the idea was very intuitive; I immediately knew to move my head from side to side, up and down, to get the full immersive experience.

 

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