Latest Samsung Gear VR opens up a whole new world
IT'S not hard to get lost in the virtual reality world provided by Samsung's latest Gear VR device.
You may look like an absolute dork with a phone strapped to your head, but it's a lot of fun.
Whether watching aerial acrobats performing above you, going for a virtual skydive, or playing games with a 96-degree field of view, this is one cool toy.
The latest edition of Gear VR is now compatible with four different Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge+, S6 and S6 edge.
Unlike other devices that have you tethered to a computer, this allows you complete freedom - although you are probably best to sit down on a swivel chair to experience it without falling over or getting neck strain.
Setting up the VR headset is easy. Download the Oculus VR software, games and apps you want and plug your phone into the device before securing it to your skull. The VR headset is now a little lighter, more comfortable and its touchpad controls have been improved.
The Oculus app is pretty cool, allowing you to look around in 360degrees as you select between a range of options such as videos, photos and games.
Options include travel videos where you explore the world as if you were there, as well as a few news videos shot in 360degrees.
You can even look at your own videos on your phone for a far more immersive experience.
A focus ring allows you to fine-tune for your vision and if you wear glasses, you can wear them while using the headset.
As well as Samsung's own content, there is a range of other providers and apps, including 360-degree videos from YouTube and some cool photos on Flickr.
Samsung Internet for Gear VR beta is an app that allows users to browse the web in an immersive 360-degree experience. It supports both 360-degree and 3D video streaming.
The instruction manual includes pages of warnings about the potential impact of too much VR headset time. It is not recommended for children under 13.
The reality is, however, that you will find that as the headset heats up - if you have been on it too long - you will get a warning to 'cool it' for a while.
And it certainly sucks the battery out of your phone, although you can plug the headset into a normal Samsung charger.
With a price tag of $159, the Samsung Gear VR is the best option for getting into VR right now - but only if you have one of the latest Samsung phones.
As the product improves, it will become another reason to buy a Samsung phone, especially if you're into mobile gaming.
Post review note: Greatest joy I had with this device was showing my 80-year-old father-in-law how to use it. It was a hoot.
SOME COOL VR GAMES AND APPS
Ustwo's first VR game is a puzzle game that makes nice use of the Gear VR's head tracking as controls. It costs $9.99.
Cirque du Soleil Zarkana
Watch acrobats twirl around ropes above your head. You can feel the magic as you look up to the ceiling as if you were right in the audience. It's free.
Oculus 360 tours
The future of travel marketing. Imagine going to different places around the world without leaving your chair. It's a great way to show your mum and dad what all the fuss is about VR headsets.
Live streams of sports and news events to VR headsets like the Gear VR in 180degrees. Recent examples include the US Open, NASCAR racing and the US presidential debate.
Samsung's free pre-loaded photo viewing app includes Getty Image's huge 80million image archive, so it's worth a look. Flickr also has some great 360 photos.
You can now download and view the movie and TV streaming service in your own 'cinema'.