A problem many users have with the Oculus Rift headset is that it rarely if ever renders pitch black as ‘black’. The Rift renders black as ‘grey’. You might think this isn’t much of a problem, but you’d be surprised at how much having grey skies in space destroys immersion – or having grey ‘dark areas’ in a horror game. The simple fact is that humans are used to seeing black as black – seeing black as grey is positively unnatural, and destroys immersion.
If this is a problem that you’re having at the moment, there’s an easy fix, and no, it does not involve simply replacing your Oculus Rift with an HTC Vive or PlayStation VR.
Use the NVIDIA Control Panel to fix the problem
It goes without saying that this fix is only applicable if you are using an NVIDIA driver. Here’s how to solve the problem in a few easy steps.
First of all, disconnect the HDMI cable at the point where it attaches itself to the Rift headset.
Then, at the same point, connect a display unit such as a monitor using a DVI-HDMI connector.
Once you have done this, bring up the NVIDIA control panel. Do note that you should be ready to exit the NVIDIA control panel immediately after the next step, as there’s a bug that could cause problems if you don’t.
Now select the RESET option within the control panel and reset everything to the default settings.
Then immediately EXIT the control panel.
After closing down the NVIDIA control panel to bypass the bug, re-open it again, and click on the CHANGE RESOLUTION tab. At this point, you will notice something called an OUTPUT DYNAMIC RANGE, which you will need to ensure is set at FULL. There is some sort of a bug – at least, for want of a better description – that resets this setting to LIMITED even if you were to have previously set it to FULL. This happens especially after the installation of a new driver. You may have to repeat this process if you install a new driver.
Now, within the NVIDIA control panel, click on ADJUST DESKTOP COLOR SETTINGS. On the page that now opens, you will need to locate the DIGITAL VIBRANCE slider and ensure that it is set to no more than around between 38% to 45%, as opposed to the default 50%. However, experiment with this setting a bit to see what looks best. Don’t forget to press ‘Apply’.
Now, EXIT the NVIDIA control panel and detach the monitor from the HDMI cable.
Once the cable is unplugged from the monitor, reconnect the Oculus Rift headset to the HDMI cable.
Other display properties can also be tweaked using the method above, so that you can create a highly individualistic display for your headset that suits you perfectly.
An important consideration
If you are using other drivers instead of NVIDIA and are encountering the same problem, it’s possible to adjust the settings using the integrated control panel of your driver, working along the same lines as above. Obviously, I wouldn’t really recommend actually shifting headsets if you already own the Rift.
As you probably know, Gear VR isn’t a dedicated stand-alone VR headset like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Instead, Gear VR is a mobile headset in which a smartphone is inserted into the headset to act as a screen. The resolution of the headset will therefore depend on that of the smartphone inserted. The smartphones compatible with the Gear VR are the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge + and Note 5, all of which feature an AMOLED Quad HD display.
Gear VR has a new avatar
The new Gear VR sports a blue-black finish that looks a little more like the Oculus Rift, but the concept is the same as the black and white model it replaces. The field of view has been slightly enlarged, from 96 to 101 degrees. That’s still a little less than the complete angle of the human field of vision, but quite sufficient for immersion in a realistic virtual world.
The wheel to adjust focus, which works with or without glasses, is more flexible in this version. The headset is also more comfortable to wear. The touch pad located on the side of the headset is large enough that it is easy to find with your fingers – though it is hardly necessary, with the highly intuitive controller that comes with this version of the headset.
Thanks to gyroscopic sensors and high-speed accelerometers built into the headset, the device tracks the movements of the head, allowing you to ‘look around’ in a virtual world. The low persistence of the images generated make it possible to maintain clarity in virtual reality even while turning rapidly.
Gear VR has a presence sensor that puts the smartphone into sleep mode when a user removes the headset, which saves on battery power. Similarly, it automatically activates the device when a user puts the headset on his or her head.
Bypasses the need to wear glasses
There is also a focus adjustment dial that allows the Gear VR to perfectly focus for users with different visual needs – this negates any need to wear glasses with the headset. There’s also a knob to adjust the volume.
An excellent Controller
Theincludedcontrollerdetectsyourmovementsforanevenmoreimmersive experience. It is comfortable and practical, and perfectly adaptedtotheshapeofyourhand. If the more than 700 apps in the Oculus Store, dozensofthemhavebeencreatedspecificallyforusewiththeGearVRcontroller.
Simply put – Gear VR is the best mobile headset currently available
It feels comfortable, and never gets too hot wearing the headset. The lenses do not fog up. The grip of the controller is perfectly natural. The presence sensor is an undeniable advantage to preserve the battery or suspend an application.
Finally, the micro USB port allows you to connect the headset to a charger during use, for longer gaming sessions.
That’s a nice option, especially if you have a portable charger on you. Without an external charger, and on full charge, you can count on between two to four hours of play before your battery is exhausted.
That depends on what you’re competing with. If you’re competing with the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, the price is very competitive.
If you’re competing against Google Cardboard, the price isn’t competitive at all.
However, Samsung Gear VR walks a crucial middle line between these two extremes, offering excellent quality VR at a very reasonable cost. When you consider that the Rift or Vive require a heavy-duty PC or laptop to work, the cost of the Samsung Gear VR – considering the quality of the apps – becomes eminently reasonable.
What’s the experience like?
Of course, the experience will depend on each application. Visual quality is excellent. The image is clear, and the backgrounds very detailed, while the grid effect that is the trademark of all VR headsets today is much less noticeable on the Gear VR.
The field of vision is excellent, wide enough so that one hardly notices that it’s slightly less than normal human vision after a few minutes of use. The lenses are of very good quality, chromatically perfect, and provide crystal clarity.
The rotary tracking responds perfectly
The announced latency of less than 20ms is not an exaggeration and allows for perfect tracking at 60 frames per second continuously. As you turn your head, the scenery moves around you and tracks perfectly, for complete immersion.
Excellent sound quality
With a good pair of headphones, you’ll find that Galaxy smartphones offer excellent sound quality, and this allows for good sound positioning in virtual reality. While it is possible to play games on the phone’s speaker, we advise you to always play with headphones to enhance immersion.
So… is Samsung Gear VR worth it?
Want excellent quality virtual reality at a VERY reasonable price?
Already own a compatible phone?
Then buy this headset today.
Samsung Gear VR is an excellent product for the mobile, probably the most successful one at the moment. It offers the best selection of mobile virtual reality apps. In the end, this is perhaps our favorite virtual reality platform as of the moment because it is simple to use, to transport, and to share with others.
You’ll be astounded. Here’s a small selection of the more-than-700 games and apps that are available for the Samsung Gear VR.
Developed by CCP games, creators of the famous Eve Valkyrie virtual reality game, Gunjack, formerly known as Project Nemesis, is a very successful space arcade game. Largely inspired by the world of its predecessor, the graphics are also nothing less than exceptional.
Seated at the controls of the automatic turret of your ship, you must eliminate any enemy appearing in your field of vision. Easy to handle, with intuitive controls , Gunjack offers a good, and reasonably long gaming experience through multiple missions and bonus levels .
Available for € 9.99 at the Oculus Store
Minecraft Gear VR
The famous adventure and construction game sees its universe adapted to virtual reality. Minecraft, developed by Markus Persson aka Notch, is now ported to the Samsung Gear VR. Immerse yourself in the cubic world of Minecraft, where your explorations and fights will be the most immersive ever.
Minecraft Gear VR has all the features of its mobile version ‘Minecraft Pocket Edition’, including the famous multiplayer mode. This is certainly one of the best Samsung Gear VR apps.
Available for € 6.99 at the Oculus Store
Suicide Squad: Special Mission
This game builds on the recently released DC movie. You will play as Deadshot, Harley Quinn and El Diablo. You must survive successive waves of enemies that attack you. The gameplay is intuitive, because the controls of the headset are exceptionally well exploited.
Since each character plays differently, the game remains interesting as you go through it. This is probably the most advanced shooting game on the platform, and well worth your time. That it’s for free doesn’t hurt its case any.
Available free at the Oculus Store
Gone is a Samsung Gear VR application that must not be missed. This psychological thriller produced by the creators of The Walking Dead puts you in the shoes of a mother looking for her mysteriously missing child.
A deeply engrossing and interactive application, this 2-hour series, divided into 10-minute episodes, is exclusive to the Samsung Gear VR and would interest any fan of the series, or of virtual reality .
Available for free at the Milk VR store
Within is an application that offers brilliant 360 degree video content. Its high quality content makes it a model in terms of video rendering. You can find video clips of Muse or U2, enjoy beautiful panoramas, or even listen to reports by the New York Times.
This application has set new standards in terms of what one usually expects from 360 degree videos. Best of all, all the available content is free.
Available free at the Oculus Store
To buy… or not to buy?
If you can afford the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive AND the state of the art computer needed to run VR on either of those headsets, then buy one of those. While the cost of both the Rift and the Vive have fallen, the fact that those headsets need a very high end personal computer means that they cost considerably more than the Samsung Gear VR, even if you include the cost of a compatible mobile phone.
Samsung Gear VR is the ultimate meshing of price and quality, and if you like the idea of quality VR at a reasonable price, then this is the headset for you.
The Samsung Gear VR is excellent value for money. As you’ve just seen, there’s a wide range of content (more than 700 titles!) available, and the quality of the experiences they provide is excellent. That’s what the Samsung Gear VR delivers, and it’s an absolute must buy.
Putting together room-scale VR setup for your Oculus Rift may prove to be tricky. This is mostly due to the number and complexity of cables which you’ll have to extend, in order to provide room-scale tracking and freedom of movement. The critical issues are ensuring your HDMI cable can handle the video signal output, and that the USB extension cables are capable of transferring the camera/sensor tracking.
Higher bandwidths usually don’t go well with Ethernet cables, so we recommend using only HDMI and USB cables. This proves to be fairly complicated, since the Rift is very specific about both PC ports and the extension cables you may use. On /r/oculus you can find a good guide on the extension cables which have been tested, and proved to work.
You should however proceed with caution, and put in some additional research, since some motherboards and GPUs simply aren’t compatible with all the listed extension cables.
You should also have in mind that the maximum length at which USB 3.0 cables work is about 15ft (3 meters), and if you want to buy a longer cable, consider getting an USB 2.0 extension. USB 2.0 uses less bandwidth data, hence it often works more reliably on lengthy cable extensions, 15ft and longer.
Oculus Rift HMD extension cables
It is possible for you to expand your room-scale Oculus Rift setup to a larger area than Oculus recommends. In order to extend your Oculus Rift headset, you gotta purchase two types of cables. These are HDMI 1.3 and an USB 3.0 extension cables.
Noticing that many users are willing to experiment with unusual setups, Oculus tested the following 6 foot cables which will enable you to enjoy VR in a larger area.
USB 3.0 Rift Cable Extension recommended by Oculus
Oculus Rift Sensor extension cables for wall-mount setups
For most standard setups, you can get away with 6ft USB cables, but for wall mounting you are going to need some 15ft extensions. For maintaining the recommended setup which includes two USB 3.0s and one USB 2.0, you are going to have to buy sensor cable extensions for each of them.
You should never buy USB 3.0 extension cables longer than 15ft – 17ft (5m), as we explained earlier. Besides this fact, backed up by experiences so far, you should always choose active extension cables over passive ones when purchasing. This is due to the fact they tend to maintain the signal better than the passive ones, so we recommend using active extension cables if possible.
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