Samsung Gear VR Controller Review

Gear VR Controller Review - FalseDogs

Is it rude to point in VR?

The highly anticipated Gear VR controller has been an outstanding success. The updated Gear VR (SM-R324) is designed to accommodate the Samsung S8 phone but the headset itself has a few notable improvements over its predecessor. The new Bluetooth controller takes center stage but does it enrich the virtual experience?

Samsung Gear VR Controller Review

Gear VR Headset and Gear VR Controller by Samsung / Oculus

I enjoy using the Samsung Gear VR because it blends portability with an impressive virtual display. It delivers rich colors, a user-friendly interface and an immersive experience at a reasonable price.  It’s powered by Oculus and helps you take virtual reality on the road. The new Gear VR comes with a motion controller and a higher price, but is it worth it?

Samsung Gear VR and Gear VR Controller
Samsung Gear VR and Gear VR Controller

The Gear VR Controller

Once you pair the controller, you’re ready to touch the face of God in virtual reality! I’d like to say that using the new motion controller was a life-changing moment but it did fall short of what you get on the Oculus Rift or VIVE. It does give you an intuitive way to navigate the Oculus menu, control 360° videos, and enjoy more interactive games.

Gear VR Controller in VR - Samsung 360 Video Library
Gear VR Controller in VR, Samsung 360 Video Library

The Gear VR controller is powered by two AAA batteries and the battery life is long enough to enjoy multiple VR sessions. It features an ergonomic shape and natural button placement. A smooth, round trackpad is found at the top, with a trigger or Action button. Also included are Back and Home buttons along with volume control. The shape was influenced by Oculus but that’s where the comparison with the Touch ends.

Gear VR Review - Oculus Touch
Oculus Touch Controllers, Oculus

The Gear VR controller is reasonably responsive in 360° and once you reorient the position it’s a rewarding experience.  The overall effect isn’t as sophisticated as premium VR with room-scale but that doesn’t matter. Using the controller is head and shoulders above needlessly tilting and twisting your head in VR.

Gear VR Controller Review, FalseDogs
Samsung Gear VR + Controller, On Set, FaseDogs / “Gear VR with Controler Review”

The New Gear VR Headset

If you already have an earlier version of the Gear VR headset then you’re familiar with the level of quality you’ll get and the basic features. There’s a square trackpad on the side, focus, and adjustable straps. You’ll also get an easy-to-reach Home button, Back button, and volume control. The controller can slide into the head strap for safe keeping too.

Samsung Gear VR Headset, FalseDogs
Gear VR Headset and Ned the Demo Head, FalseDogs

The sleek new color is an improvement over the blazing white of the previous models. The earlier Gear VR headset started to feel like a Nintendo Wii strapped to my face.

Gear VR Headset, FaseDogs
Samsung Gear VR Headset, White, On Set, FalseDogs

Like the version before it, this Gear VR features an “A” and “B” position toggle to accommodate different sized phones. The default position fits the S8 but I simply adjust the gear to work with my Samsung S7. It’s compatible with:

Galaxy S8+ | Galaxy S8 | Galaxy S7 | Galaxy S7 edge | Galaxy S6 | Galaxy S6 edge | Galaxy S6 edge+

The headset is remarkably comfortable. I could use this updated Gear VR for hours and I wouldn’t think twice about it. The open face also makes augmented reality (AR) quick and seamless.

Samsung Gear VR Headset, FalseDogs
Samsung Gear VR Headset & Ned the Demo Head, FalseDogs

Gear VR with Controller worth the price?

If you already have a Samsung Galaxy S8 or plan to get one very soon then yes, go grab yourself this headset and controller combo. If you already own a Gear VR and are happy with the results, know that the magic is really already in the headset. You can add the controller at any time for a reasonably modest price but don’t expect an experience on par with the Oculus Touch. The addition of the motion controller places the Gear VR on par or above the Google Daydream View. The easy navigation in the Oculus and Samsung menus alone make the controller worth it for me.

Samsung Gear VR Headset and Controller, FalseDogs
Samsung Gear VR Headset and Controller, Open / FalseDogs

I did find I was forced to reorient the controller more often than I expected but it’s a quick and painless process. Despite this fact, the addition of the motion controller easily places the Gear VR on par or above the Google Daydream View. The easy navigation in the Oculus and Samsung menus alone make the controller worth it for me.

It was a good touch!

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