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Samsung Gear VR: What I Learned the 1st Day



Many of the mobile carriers offered a free Samsung Gear VR deal for people who pre-ordered the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge bringing virtual reality to a lot of Galaxy S7 owners. Samsung started delivering the Gear VR already and we got one. Here are 10 things we learned about using the Samsung Gear VR during the first day of use.

The technology behind virtual reality goggles is still in its infancy, but the Gear VR shows great promise. When the VR industry finds ways to fix the problems below, it will take off and bring users one step closer to the Star Trek holodeck future most of us want.


Video Resolution on Gear VR Disappoints

You’d think that gazing at a beautiful Samsung Galaxy phone display would result in incredibly crisp and beautiful images and video, but that’s not how it works with the Gear VR. The Galaxy S7 Edge sports a great 1440 x 2560 res display. That’s a 534 ppi pixel density. However, the lenses on the Gear VR result in a noticeably pixellated look. It’s grainy and looks pretty bad after the initial wow factor wears off.

gear vr lenses

Users hoping to watch movies or look at high res photos in crystal clarity will find the Gear VR disappointing.

Accurate Focus Clarity is Nearly Impossible

In addition to the poor picture and video quality, the focus on the lenses doesn’t work as hoped. The images mostly look clear, but it’s slightly off. No amount of fine tuning brings the entire screen into focus. Things on the edge look softer than those in the center of the person’s view.

Use the focus dial to get a clearer picture. It's always a little fuzzy no matter how much you focus.

The focus dial is used to get a clearer picture. However, it’s always a little fuzzy no matter how much you focus.

The Galaxy VR focuses using a dial on top of the goggles. I turned it a few times before it came into focus and then went past the clearest focus moving back into the blurry range trying to find a clearer image. It’s usable, but needs improvement.

The Galaxy S7 Edge Runs Really Hot Inside

After about 20 minutes of use the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge felt the hottest I’ve seen it. That’s due to the amount of image processing power the Gear VR requires. We’ll see whether using it for long periods of time will hurt the phone’s hardware. I don’t think it’s that bad, but time will tell.

gear vr with galaxt s7 edge

The Gear VR Drains the Phone’s Battery Quickly

Related to the heat generated by using the Gear VR, the usually great battery on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge drained fast. After the 30 minutes it took to set it up and then play around watching some videos, looking at some photos and downloading the 6 free games that come with the Gear VR, the battery dropped from about 70% to less than 40%. My son’s Galaxy S7 drained about 25% in around fifty minutes of use. Plan to keep a fast charger close by while playing.

I Got a Little Headache and Slightly Dizzy

Using the Gear VR for about 10 minutes gave me a slight headache. I decided to push through and it went away after another five minutes. People highly sensitive to things like watching a 3D movie might not enjoy the Gear VR at all. My wife can’t go to 3D movies for this reason and she pulled it off after a minute because it bothered her almost instantly.

Some people report getting a little nauseous after using virtual reality. Only one thing made me feel slightly dizzy. There’s a sample 360-degree video of a helicopter tour of the Las Vegas Strip. I started to feel a little light-headed and dizzy while watching it moving around to see all the angles.

Most people should feel fine if they get the focus clarity adjusted as well as possible and don’t make sudden head movements while wearing the Gear VR.

Big Heads Mean Tight Straps

The Gear VR straps are too close to the ears.

The Gear VR straps are too close to the ears.

The straps on the Gear VR connect to the two sides and the center top edge. They’re easy to install and most people won’t mind the tightness. My 18-year-old son thought the straps fit comfortably with one exception. I’ve got a larger than normal head and it felt very tight after using it for about ten minutes.

The Gear VR fits great on normal heads, but not people will big heads.

The Gear VR fits great on normal heads, but not on bigger heads.

The straps run just behind my ears on the side of my head and that got annoying for both of us. He didn’t think it was too tight, but did find the strap’s placement around his ears bothersome.

Games Require a Game Pad

A few web sites say that the Amazon Fire TV Gaming Controller works with Gear VR games and the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, but we couldn’t make it work. We tried the SteelSeries Nimbus that works with Apple TV. The controller most people recommend for use with the Gear VR comes from the same company, but it didn’t work either.

The SteelSeries Free Mobile Wireless Gaming Controller ($26.50 at the time this post) promises to work with it. I ordered it from Amazon and will test it out. People who want to play games will need a controller like it to play them.

Gear VR Feels Isolating

If you like to watch movies all by yourself, you won’t mind feeling isolated. I’d rather watch with family or friends, so it does bother me.

Wearing the Gear VR also means staying put. I can’t get up and move around safely without turning on the pass through camera, which is hard to get used to. Seeing the environment from a camera instead of with the naked eye feels like looking through a hole.

The Gear VR lets users plug in headphones into the phone so sound won't annoy others.

The Gear VR lets users plug headphones into the phone so sound won’t annoy others.

The sound of videos and games annoyed the people around me. They designed the Gear VR so the user can plug in headphones, but now you’re really isolated. If you’re just wearing headphones, someone can get your attention by waving at you. With the goggles on, the person will  have to touch the user which can startle you.

Short Videos Work Great

The short videos available on Facebook, Hulu and the other video collections available for the Gear VR come with a cool wow factor. There’s a lot of educational content and some that’s just entertaining or interesting. You can sit on stage and enjoy U2 with the band sitting around you or watch Cirque du Soleil perform with members of the cast sitting next to you.

Some videos play on a virtual movie screen and it looks like you’re sitting in a theater or a video room. Others offer 360-degree immersive experiences. Some offer 3D video.

The Samsung Gear VR works great for short form videos.

Long Movies Aren’t That Enjoyable

I haven’t watched a full-length movie yet and I don’t want to. First, the headset is uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Second, I prefer watching movies with family or friends. Third, my 4K TV looks better than the video quality of the Gear VR.



  1. jack

    04/02/2016 at 4:57 pm

    You do not deserve to have a VR headset.
    Much less the internet.
    You whiny little bitch.

    • James Williams

      04/03/2016 at 9:45 am

      Lol awesome

    • JLin

      04/04/2016 at 11:01 am

      lol I thought the same

    • kent

      04/07/2016 at 10:04 pm

      big head thing is real. and why do people like you read these reviews if all you do is complain about them? its ironic that you are whining about someone who you think is whinning. you understand how dumb that sounds right?

      • jack

        04/09/2016 at 4:01 pm

        You just did what you said sounds dumb..

      • kent

        12/07/2016 at 6:34 pm

        lol, grow up

  2. Zypex

    04/02/2016 at 8:23 pm

    Yeah I totally agree with you on the first point. At my local electronics store they had a samsung gear on display, and being a vr huge enthusiast myself I got myself hyped. But after wearing it, I was quite disappointed with big as and blurry screen.

  3. Tyco

    04/02/2016 at 9:47 pm

    This thing is sick. Gaming is where it’s at, Herobound and Dark net are awesome, I’ve started playing and the next thing I know it’s 3 hours later. 3D movies are also amazing on this platform, since each eye had a completely different image the 3D effect is great. Your brain will work out the “screen door” (noticeable pixels) and you won’t notice the focus issue either. Just gotta give it some time and you’ll get used to it, and it’s well worth it.

  4. James Williams

    04/03/2016 at 9:47 am

    I love my gear VR the only thing that gets me is that the damn thing fogs up all the time! Extremely annoying

  5. dominic dymond

    04/03/2016 at 10:15 pm

    There is an anti fogg spray that is super cheap. Look it up and when you get it just spray it on the lenses. Win.

  6. dominic dymond

    04/03/2016 at 10:22 pm

    Pert shampoo or shaving cream, apply a drop, message into lenses, then use a cloth to buff away residue you will be fogg free for like a month or more.

  7. dominic dymond

    04/03/2016 at 10:31 pm

    As far as the resolution… it sucks but you get over it.especially with gaming it is easily forgotten.

    I’m working on getting the Playstation move controllers to work with the headset.

    I wish samsung would put out headphones similar to shure where it passes environmental sounds through to the listener so you can hear you’re vr but also whatever is around you, And sure makes it switchable so you can eliminate outside noise or allow it.

    Streaming your screen to a chromecast also helps to include friends. Chromecast should have a de-warp app that allows people to see a full screen unwarped image of the vr. Just a suggestion to the chromecast development team out there.

    • Alex

      04/06/2016 at 11:06 am

      I have my GearVR and I use my Moga Pro controller and my Samsung Level-on Headphones. they have Pass through audio, and you can turn it on or off, you can also turn on noise cancelling.

  8. Jim Jones

    04/04/2016 at 12:24 am

    Some valid points but unnecessary as the road to VR has just begun… Comments like Gear VR feels isolating??? What do you expect? It is what it is.. Comparing your 4k TV to cheap VR tech??

  9. Kevin Bissinger

    04/04/2016 at 6:07 pm

    Did you ever find a controller that works?

  10. kent

    04/07/2016 at 10:01 pm, you probably got the wrong controller. there is a version for ios and one for android. so if it works with apple, which you said yours does, then it wont work with gear vr. the one they recommend works.

    • Steevey

      05/14/2016 at 8:17 pm

      Yes, yet anther item showing he’s an idiot..

  11. Elise Moran

    04/08/2016 at 8:52 am

    nice..!Super and Easiest 0nl!nee Home opportunity for all. make 87 Dollars per hour and Make 2512 Dollars per month.All you just Need an Internet Connection and aComputer To Make Some Extra cash.
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  12. jumbojock

    04/24/2016 at 1:22 am

    Comments noted. It is what it is. I also have a larger crown but strapping is ok.

    The main downer from me is that the eyepieces are a fixed width apart. Whilst the focus ring adjusts the to/from distance of the eyepieces, there is no way to increase the distance between the lenses meaning that I can only ever have one eye focused at once. It’s only about 3 to 4 mm but significant.

    I think that’s where some people’s focus issues might arise.

  13. Dave

    05/03/2016 at 4:35 am

    I just got my Gear VR yesterday – he’s right about everything. I was immediately deflated by the “screen door effect” of the images, all I’d seen were YT videos of gameplay that looked perfect but that’s not the view you get on the screen. It looks like you’re looking at everything through a screen door.

    That’s not to say there isn’t anything good about gear VR – it is really amazing to look around and be “in” the world, and some of experiences work VERY well even with the grainy image (Ocean Rift – very cool!)

    It’s worth $100 but if I had paid more I don’t think I’d be very satisfied. Oh – and get a real gamepad, I spent $50 on a dual shock 3 only to figure out that you have to root your device to use DS3. Dual Shock 4 did connect right up in the bluetooth for the phone but it DID NOT WORK FOR CRAP. Had to buy another gamepad that would work with the Gear VR.

  14. Joey JoJo

    05/14/2016 at 8:16 pm

    At first sounded reasonable, then the things you complain about made it clear that you are in fact an idiot… Youcompain ablut a device designed for 1 person because you like to watch movies with other people..? You complain that others cannot get your atte tion because the device designed to give you immersion has you too immersed..? Are you retarded..?

  15. Donna

    07/04/2016 at 6:33 pm

    I got the VR yesterday. Played with it today. My S7 got very hot. I haven’t used the phone for a couple of hours and now it isn’t working. Plugged it in, in case the battery was just dead. Nothing is happening. Anyone know if this is a VR problem?

  16. VR sux

    07/16/2016 at 9:47 pm

    VR is so bad. i have the same sentiments with everything youve said in this review.
    im gonna sell my gear vr and not touch VR for another 10 years. hopefully then they’ll have improved things drastically. its just too awful right now

  17. Rahul

    08/07/2016 at 7:07 am

    Plz don’t purchase ths product it is wastage of money.u won’t feel enjoyable while watching video n all.clarity inside vr is not good.

  18. Rob

    09/24/2016 at 4:08 am

    Moan moan moan. It’s the first VR headset and it’s a cheap mobile one. You can’t expect The Matrix!

  19. g tripp

    12/26/2016 at 6:37 pm

    Sending mine back this week. Yes, I’m a whiney little bitch – who doesn’t appreciate 1999 quality graphics and primitive 2- or 3-layer 3D, along with the constant screen-door effect. S7.

  20. g tripp

    12/26/2016 at 6:39 pm

    Forgot to mention- I woke up with a frozen phone after trying it last night again one LAST time, it got so hot the display drivers quit and I had to force reboot. Nope.

  21. Paul Anderegg

    01/11/2017 at 6:19 pm

    I just got the newer black version for my S7.

    Fist thought…the best focus is not really in focus, ever, and everything off center is more blurred and has chromatic abberations, red blue colored edges.

    Secondly, OMFG, this looks exactly the same as when I put a magnifying glass in front of my family’s 19″ CRT TV set back in the 80’s…seriously, it looks horrible.

    Third, I can see the reflection of light from behind me because the goggles are too wide, and the lenses reflect all sorts of times back and forth against the phone screen, producing lots of ghost images.

    Fourth..yeah, only the right lens fogs up, I feel like I have cataracts.

    I also don’t like that I have to hold me chin up for center, when the weight of the goggles and my natural sightline tends to not have me looking down my nose at objects. For $50 used it’s a curious toy, but no more than a first gen technology “demonstrator IMHO.

  22. Scott

    02/16/2017 at 4:26 pm

    Anyone used playstation vr on here and does it look as bad as the gear vr. If its anything like the gear vr im not going to waste my money.

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