Samsung Gear VR: Reality if you have the right phone

Samsung Gear VR: Reality if you have the right phoneI’ve always wondered what it felt like to be Iron Man. Now, not only was I able to experience his suit boot up, I also got to meet JARVIS and play around with a few of Tony Stark’s toys. I wasn’t dreaming. This was reality, of the virtual kind – also called VR. Yes sir, I did all this sitting on my couch, using Samsung’s Gear VR headset, attached to a Galaxy Note 5.

At the time of writing, the Gear VR supported only four phones from Samsung – the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5.

My first attempt with the Gear VR presented me with blurry images, which I corrected using the focusing ring at the top of the headset. I don’t wear glasses and while the manual says one should use contacts if needed, I think the eye cups are big enough to accommodate medium-sized spectacles. Navigating is fairly easy; one needs to look at a certain item to point the pointer and then tap the select switch on the touchpad.

My first port of call was the videos already on offer – where I got to surf in Tahiti and visit the PGA Tour. There was some pixilation in the second video, but I blame it on the resolution of the screen; here was an instance where a 4K screen on a phone might make sense. Next, I downloaded Netflix in phone, not VR, mode. But I had to log into it in VR mode. I had a torrid time pirouetting my neck to type in my user name and password using the onscreen keyboard. Nothing matches the sheer pleasure of watching in a personal theatre, and the headphones add to the immersive experience. I decided to watch Gravity. But it was not to be; the built-in gyroscope ensured I was looking at the ceiling of the theatre after I lay down.

Samsung Gear VR: Reality if you have the right phone

Next morning, with a fully charged phone, I decided to tackle an important aspect of the VR headset: gaming. I ended up playing Temple Run VR. It was fun playing it, but if one looked back, the monsters looked downright scary!

Samsung recommends a break after every 30 minutes of usage, especially if one feels discomfort. The phone heating up ensured I couldn’t continue for more than 45 minutes. And two hours of tinkering with the Gear VR depleted the Note 5’s fully charged battery down to 20 per cent – as the headset is powered by the phone.

The Samsung Gear VR, at Rs 8,200, takes multimedia and gaming experience to a whole new level but the phone heats up and the battery gets exhausted. It is possibly the best consumer VR headset one can buy in India at this price point, provided one has a compatible Samsung phone.

[“source-Business-standard”]

Facebook’s Oculus Unveils New Social, Video Features for Samsung Gear VR

Facebook's Oculus Unveils New Social, Video Features for Samsung Gear VR

Facebook-owned Oculus VR is bringing new social and video capabilities to the world of virtual reality. The company announced an update to its software that will enable Samsung Gear VR users to create a social profile while also leveraging several other features. The update will go live on Thursday. Oculus added that it also plans to introduce a feature to allow users to connect their Gear VR account with their Facebook account. The rollout of this feature, however, is planned for next week.

Oculus announced on Wednesday that its new set of features for Samsung Gear VR, which runs its software, will allow a user to look for friends, make a profile, and also rate different apps on the Oculus Store. The feature is similar to Xbox Live, Microsoft’s gaming network for Xbox One that allows users to interact and play with their friends.

The company has also added the ability to create rooms with friends in Oculus Social. This will enable friends to watch video streams on Twitch or Vimeo. On the sidelines, Oculus also announced Social Trivia, a game that lets users play with up to four friends to test their knowledge. A multiplayer adventure game called Herobound allows users to band together and fight for a common mission.

As previously promised, Facebook is also bringing some video capabilities to Samsung Gear VR. Dubbed Facebook Videos, the feature allows users to connect their Facebook account with Oculus Video. This will enable them to see personalised 360-degree videos to their taste based on the pages and people they follow. Oculus also noted that users will soon be able to like, share, and react to such videos from Samsung Gear VR headset.

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[“source-Gadgets”]

MGS 5’s ending IS finished argues Japan’s biggest Metal Gear expert (but it’s complicated)

WARNING: WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE ENDING SO THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

There’s no doubt that MGS 5 is an excellent game but the odd pacing and strange ending led many to argue that it was ultimately unfinished – with the ongoing disintegration of Kojima and Konami’s relationship clearly being held up as the culprit.

It didn’t help that one piece of content, the game’s 51st chapter, titled Kingdom of the Flies, was apparently cut and only turned up on a bonus Blu-ray disc in the collector’s edition of MGS 5.

Much of the discussion about whether MGS 5 got the ending it deserves hinges on how integral this missing piece was to the story (it’s something we’ve discussed at length before). Which is where Kenji Yano comes in. He’s the author of ‘METAL GEAR SOLID Naked’, a hugely authoritative Japanese book on the series, as well as the editor of several Japanese MGS novelisations. He’s basically probably one of the few people in the world that has a Kojima-level grasp on the series.

He’s spoken on the ending previously, talking to Famitsu in December, but his take on what happened has only recently been translated. As far as he’s concerned, Episode 51 is not “essential to the game.” Instead it has become “an outlet for venting all the unease and confusion” that followed the end game reveal that you’d actually been playing as an impostor the whole time. “Up until Episode 46, The Man Who Sold The World, players experience the story as Snake,” explains Kenji, “but then they have the rug pulled out from under them.”

One thing Kenji is sure about is that “as a commercial product and physical thing Metal Gear is definitely over.” (Which might come as news to Konami as it prepares to make a non-Koj MGS 6.) However, he also thinks that “in a way it isn’t,” highlighting a passage from Moby Dick (a reference that runs rife through the entire game). The passage in question involves the Moby Dick character Ishmael lamenting his role as narrator (the “shabby part of the voyage”) before taking the place of Ahab’s bowman, “when that bowsman assumed the vacant post”. Sounds a little like the role swapping in MGS 5 to you?

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve talked about MGS 5’s ending before  and spookily a lot of what Kenji says ties in to our own interpretation:

“If MGS5 is Kojima’s final MGS game, it’s clear he is passing on ownership of the series to us. Not only do MGS5’s open-world systems make you author of its legacy (each gamer’s story will be their own), but he is deliberately stepping back from didactic cut-scenes and holding our hand. It couldn’t be any more clear: we are Big Boss now”

The elements of confusion and ambivalence, making it hard to pin an ending down more clearly, appear deliberate. In a translation of Kojima’s own thoughts on the game, he says, “there is a blank space, but it will not be filled. In that blank space there is always a hero. Because there is a blank space, you can advance ahead. It is this blank space exactly that is ‘V’” Kojima also explains the idea that the player “(as Ahab, or BB’s double) is facing up to this ‘blank space’…” When you think about it, even the game’s reveal was built around the blank spaces that appeared in the logo.

Finally, in the same translation Kojima actually added extra fuel to the ‘Metal Gear is totally over’ fire (in his eyes) by talking about the series’ 28 year lifespan and quoting author, Dennis Lehane: “No matter what kind of series it is, there is a time that it must end.”

[“source-gamesradar”]

Why My Samsung Gear VR Virtual Reality Headset Is Gathering Dust

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Photo by Daryl Deino

I once considered the Samsung Gear VR the most innovative tech device since the iPad in 2001. The Gear VR went with me everywhere. I bought the developer’s version in December of 2014 and the commercial version last November. I never thought I would get bored of it, but I have; it’s is in my room gathering dust. As a matter of fact, when I went to test out a new app this morning, I had to wipe the lenses.

Don’t get me wrong; the Gear VR really is an innovative device and Samsung deserves a lot of credit for helping Oculus build a device for mobile VR. When I first got it, my eyes spent hours viewing movies in the VR Cinema. It was so cool to have my own virtual IMAX movie theater. It was also cool to visit China, New York City, and even Africa just by putting on the headset. Did I mention that both you and a friend who is thousands of miles away can visit the moon together while watching video clips and chatting, provided that both of you have the Gear VR?

The problem is that although all this is exciting at first, the rather poor quality of the experiences seeps in and, eventually, these experiences become too much of a hassle. The biggest problem is what is called the “screen door effect,” where one can easily see individual pixels that build up an image. It’s like looking at something through a screen door. A Quad HD resolution screen may look beautiful on a smartphone from a foot away, but when that screen is magnified in front of your eyes, things are different.

Perhaps, a 4K screen would take care of the screen door effect, but a 4K smartphone screen eats up a lot of battery life and isn’t necessary for 95 percent of smartphone users. Still, this is needed to make what’s supposed to be an immersive experience more immerse.

The most annoying problem with the Gear VR (and this includes every version that has been released so far) is that the lenses fog up really easily. Sometimes, it gets so annoying that you just want to take the Gear VR off your head and throw it across the room. I have found a solution that usually helps: Rain-X Interior Glass Anti-Fog. But why should somebody have to spend money on this after they already spend more than $100 (it used to be more than $200) on the headset?

Then, there is what is commonly know as the FOV (field-of-view), which determines the widest dimension your eyes can see an image. While the Gear VR does provide somewhat of an immersive experience, it looks like you are seeing that experience through an igloo helmet. However, it gets worse. Because of the light reflection, your eyes will notice two transparent dark squares on the sides of the image. They aren’t that prominent, but they are there. When you look to the right one, it disappears and the same goes with the left one. But in the virtual reality world, you need to be able to look in the center.

In order to get rid of these transparent and annoying black squares, I have tried to put a couple of bandages on my nose, which sometimes works, but makes the headset feel more uncomfortable. Once again, why should I have to make the compromise? Why should the consumer have to make all these compromises? The Gear VR is supposed to be about enjoyment, but it’s become a tough job to get it to work correctly.

 

Perhaps I am being a little too harsh. After all, most people I have showed the device to have been blown away — at least at first. I dare anybody not to be totally impressed with the Jurassic World VR app, which has an Apatosaurus staring right at you, centimeters away from mistaking you as a vegetable. There is also Temple Run VR, which makes you really feel like you are running away from monsters. The Netflix app is also enjoyable, just as long as you don’t watch anything more than a half hour.

However, VR is a very important type of techology. It has failed for decades and only now does it have a chance of taking off. If consumers experience mediocre virtual reality experiences like they do with the Google Cardboard or frustrating experiences with the Gear VR, they may not give the technology a chance when it is perfected. Hopefully, the upcoming Oculus Rift can correct at least some of the ills of the Gear VR and bring virtual reality to the mainstream.

[“source-huffingtonpost”]