Despite lots of product info and press releases about the Oculus Rift, the Valve VR system and Sony’s Project Morpheus, there is only one, major home VR system on the market that you can go out and buy right now. Samsung’s horse in the VR race is here ahead of the competition, and the GearVR is a sight to see.
Samsung’s virtual reality system is actually the result of combining two of their products. One is a Galaxy Note 4, an Android-based smartphone with an oversized screen and a lot of horsepower under the hood. The other is the GearVR headset, a well-crafted piece of plastic that houses the Note 4 and, luckily, doesn’t make you look completely insane while you’re wearing it. We used an over-the-ear set of bluetooth headphones tethered to the Note 4 to provide the audio.
When you combine the two in a vaguely Voltron-esque way, the experience is jaw-dropping. GearVR is powered by Oculus, so there’s a fair amount of content out there already. Samsung’s MilkVR delivery system, meanwhile, pulls together some of the best 180 and 360 degree movies out there and blasts them directly into your eyeballs. Racecar driving, snowboarding, ziplining and tons of other experiences are being added all the time for free, and each one does a better job than the last of showing off this definitively futuristic form of entertainment.
The most potential for the system, however, is in sports. We were able to watch some NBA footage shot on the sideline and would gladly give up courtside season tickets for a season pass to watch live games on GearVR while sitting in the living room. Seats behind the backstop or at the 50-yard line or ringside would all be perfect pay-per-view opportunities for Samsung’s virtual reality. Obviously that’ll depend on the different owners and the leagues, but when technology is this compelling, the leagues get on board eventually. After all, you can now watch the NFL on an iPad...and we never thought that would happen.
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