I ordered a used Gear VR model compatible with the Note 4 which arrived today. After spending an evening messing around with it:
Headache: My overall aftertaste is that I have a headache.
Blurriness: It seems like no matter how well I try to focus it, there is always at least some part of the field of vision that is blurry. And that messes with the eyes. That is probably the most abrasive part of the actual VR immersion experience that still has to be worked out.
Darknet won’t run: Darknet, which is supposed to be one of the coolest games for the Gear VR, would not run. However when you are installing it you can view something like a preview space of what the Darknet VR world looks like and it looks really cool. I contacted Oculus for support.
Land’s End: Massive motion sickness. Unfortunately the game Land’s End, which is considered one of the best Gear VR games, is not one I can take. You start out in a really cool landscape which you then “walk” through, however each time you move from one location to the next – OMG the motion sickness is so bad with me! Its too bad but I’ve always been unable to play many video games and even watch a lot of videos because of this.
Locked into the Oculus store: I thought there would be more openness. But basically when you put the phone into the headset it automatically launches the Oculus app and you are locked into it more or less. I did find one app that is supposed to let you use Google Cardboard apps with the Gear VR. It kind of works but kind of doesn’t. For one “app” I tried called Tokyo VR it did work, but the movement inside the VR Tokyo world was way too jerky and headache-inducing. I tried the Cardboard 3D video app which just takes you to YouTube videos that are supposed to be 3D but it doesn’t work right. Another app I wanted to use which lets you view the solar system and planets also did not work.
This to me is a serious sign. Already at this early state there are all these incompatibilities and splits between companies and devices. I think that’s really messed. It would be nice if there were one, decent, third-party, independent master app for the Gear VR which did a decent job of curating out the garbage stuff and including the good stuff.
Watching movies: In the Oculus theater app I watched parts of movies which I would have thought would be cool watching in a 3D environment. Basically though its just like watching them on a really big screen which, yes, is more immersive but also – at least for a person like me – also potentially motion-sickness/headache-inducing. Also, the fact that the pixels are visible definitely retracts from the enjoyment of watching movies which you are probably used to watching in high resolution on a regular display. And then there is the peripheral blurriness which is a show-stopper. Even slight blurriness in a video is unacceptable.
There are a couple other things I will be trying tomorrow. Or I might even take a break from it tomorrow because I feel like I don’t even want to put the headset on for a while. I have a feeling of nausea.
My overall impression at this point is that I think its really going to be at least a couple more years before I think it might really be something most people would want to get. Now I think people get them because its cool or whatever. People are curious like me. But I’ve already exhausted a lot of my curiosity.