Audio plays a huge part when it comes to virtual reality. For this reason, investing in a pair of high-quality headphones for your Gear VR sounds (no pun) like a good idea. This is pretty much the case with any VR headset – good audio makes virtual reality even more immersive, hence significantly improving the overall experience. When it comes to buying the best headphones for Gear VR, firstly you’ll have to decide whether you prefer lightweight Bluetooth headphones (earbuds), or the more robust over-the-ear headphones.
In-ear Bluetooth Headphones for Gear VR
If you prefer lightweight wireless headphones, then Bluetooth headphones are the way to go for you. Going wireless also ensures you won’t get all tangled up during your Gear VR sessions. Most of the time you will probably forget that you are even wearing them. Unless you forget to charge them before use, this makes it a sealed deal for most people.
Samsung Gear IconX
Samsung Gear IconX is designed for people who like to enjoy their music while exercising. They are completely wireless and offer up to 7 hours of battery life. In about 10 minutes of charging time, you gain an hour of battery life, so the earbuds are fully charged in about an hour. However, charging should never be an issue – you just simply put the earbuds in the compact carrying case.
Since Samsung Gear IconX headphones are built for fitness, they will remain in place no matter how much you move your head around. They have a 4GB built-in storage, so you can store approximately 1,000 songs on them. The mic is also incorporated, so you can answer calls or give voice commands via Bixby or Google Voice. This is certainly a pair of headphones for Gear VR which you can use in various other situations too. While they are a bit pricey, the sound quality and superb comfort they provide is definitely worth it!
This pair of Samsung headphones once again features a sleek design. The Level U Wireless Headphones provide a very comfortable fit, suitable for long-term use. Even if you aren’t wearing them at the time, the lightweight, around-the-neck design makes it easy to forget you are carrying them with you. Sound quality is satisfying, but it won’t really blow you away.
The bad thing about these headphones is that, due to design, the outside sounds cannot be stopped from leaking in. Additionally, it isn’t really sweat-proof, so if you tend to sweat a lot, the aforementioned Samsung Gear IconX may be a better pick as your headphones for Gear VR. All things considered, the Level U Wireless Headphones are a worthy in-ear headphone option.
At a first glance, over-the-ear headphones may not look as they could improve immersion as much as the in-ear solutions. But this isn’t necessarily true, because the over-the-ear design can utilize outside noise-cancelling technology.
Bose QuietComfort 35 & Bose QuietComfort 25
Bose has been known as the top-dog when it comes to manufacturing high-end wireless headphones. They have established themselves as the market leader in this field. Bose QuietComfort 35 offers top-notch noise cancellation which you can adjust to fit your current needs.
Bose QuietComfort 35 aren’t only the best headphones for Gear VR, but possibly on the entire wireless headphones market. The downside, as expected, is the price – it goes over $300 mark. If you don’t want to spend $300+ on a pair of headphones, check out the older version from Bose – QC25.
In the end, we have the best headphones for Gear VR runner-up, which provides noise-cancellation, but more importantly, it costs under $50. The H840 provides pristine sound quality and good outside sound blocking. Edifier came up with fairly straight-forward, yet effective design, with emphasis on comfort. Earcups are enclosed, providing full audio isolation from the outside world, hence improving the immersion. The headband is steel reinforced and can accommodate all the sizes, while the headrests are made out of leather.
One of the problems of virtual reality is the recurrent motion sickness associated with the technology. A VR motion chair is one way to reduce these effects, because they actually turn you to face the direction in which you’re looking in virtual reality. This means that as the virtual world moves around you, so too do you, physically speaking. The inertia that you experience from the movement of the chair matches the movements of the virtual world, preventing nausea.
Most virtual reality chairs are motorized, and the controls of the motor linked in one way or another to either the VR software, or to the headset itself. A VR motion chair will also usually incorporate some external control mechanism, usually in the form of joysticks or pedals, though more complex controls are not unknown, as you will see as we go through various virtual reality chairs below.
Some chairs these days allow you to merely lean in the direction of movement to begin to move in that direction. If you’ve noticed when playing an intense game or flight simulator, on naturally tends to lean in the direction one wants to move in while playing a game, so this sort of movement is actually very natural in virtual reality.
There are a number of advantages to a VR motion chair
First of all, and perhaps the most obvious, is that you don’t have to stand all the time. While racing games or flight or space-combat simulators are perhaps the best suited to VR chairs, the fact is that just about any game can be played using them.
These virtual reality chairs might be the first step into ‘4D’ – that is to say, the chairs of the near future might be able to simulate wind, temperature, rain, and other environmental factors, to increase the immersion of your experience.
The Roto VR 360
This is one of the most interesting chairs on sale today, and offers a design reminiscent of the classic DX Racer. It is powered by a motor in its base, and this can turn the chair in either direction. The Roto VR 360 automatically rotates to face the direction you look in – this is done using a sensor called the “Roto VR HeadTracker”, a small unit that you have to attach to your virtual reality headset. It transmits the movements of your head in real-time to the control systems built into the chair.
If you look to the right, the chair turns in the same direction, following the direction of your head. This module is stored in a special compartment in the chair that allows it to be recharged. Once charged, the control module runs for about six hours before it needs to be recharged.
There’s a powerful – optional – vibration system that consists of two 500W modules placed under the chair and at the back of the backrest. The Roto VR 360 has lots of possible ergonomic settings ranging from the management of the backrest to the customization of the seat or the height of the armrests.
The footrest has two “buttons” or pedals that allow you to move easily. They are most commonly set to forward movement (since turning is handled merely by turning your head), and to jumping.
The Cable Magazine
An additional, optional accessory for the Roto VR 360 is the Cable Magazine, a system that allows you to avoid entangling the cables of your headset by allowing you to plug the headset directly into the top portion of the chair itself. This can be exceptionally useful when playing a combat flight simulator, for example. Not only does your VR headset plug in this way, but so do your headphones.
The chair transmits all the data it receives to corresponding ports in its base, which you can then connect with corresponding cables to your PC. This chair therefore provides an innovative and highly effective solution to the problem of cables getting entangled in one’s legs – or around surrounding objects – while one is in virtual reality. There are lots of other options that you can add to the chair to enhance your immersion in virtual reality.
MMOne VR Chair
A Ukrainian start-up has created the MMOne VR chair, a gaming chair for virtual reality that is actually able to move on different axes. This will allow it to create forces such as momentum and inertia, which is a big leap forward in virtual reality.
Virtual reality companies are often blamed for only focusing on sight, and sidelining thee other senses. Mounted on multiple axes that can move and rotate independently from 30 to 360 degrees at variable speeds, the MMone allows the player to feel momentum, inertia and (as in a driving game, for example) the movements and shocks of his vehicle in play. While this chair would hardly interest a player of RPGs, it’s in its element with a driving game or flight simulator.
Eje, a company based in Japan, has developed the Telepod. This looks rather like those egg-seats you see in cinemas – the ones that specialize in 4D.
It has an interesting method of operation – the audio feed for a VR headset is plugged into the ‘egg’ (that’s as good a name for it as any), and it vibrates around you along with the audio, just like those seats in 4D movie cinemas. It really adds to the experience. But what about the audio for your games? Well, it’s sent back to you via an incorporated set of excellent headphones in the Telepod itself.
The VRGO – a brilliant innovation in VR technology
The VRGO is rather interesting. It looks like a stool, but it’s an advanced piece of VR technology. This stool can lean in any direction – and when it does, you move in that direction in virtual reality! You can also use the stool’s sensors to look around effortlessly in a 360 degree movie. Weights in the base of the stool keep it stable, and prevent you from falling over no matter what you do – within reason, of course.
Yaw VR Motion Simulator
This is an amazing simulator that looks rather like a half sphere. The Yaw motion simulator is exceptional in being the size of a chair, yet being able to simulate the complex movements of a starfighter – in the real, physical universe.
The Yaw motion simulator is nothing short of a work of genius, and if the company gets well and truly off the ground, will be in the living room of every VR enthusiast. It weighs just about thirty pounds, and can fold to become amazingly compact. Still not convinced? Take a look for yourself…
Liked what you saw? Here’s a video that showcases some of the VR Motion Chairs we’ve been talking about – and others.
While most VR systems today tend to provide a standard 110 degree field of view, and those systems that promise wider FOVs are mostly prototypes-still-in-development, a ‘wide field’ is something that the Wearality Sky actually delivers on. Wearality Sky offers a field of view that covers 150 degrees, which is exceptional for any VR device today. This superb FOV is created by special Fresnel lenses. Since the Wearality Sky are mobile phone based VR goggles, it is also rather economical, and the device costs a fraction of the price of‘dedicated’ VR headsets.
Wearality Sky is little more than a pair of complex plastic lenses in a frame that latches on to your smartphone. The goggles work with just about any 3D video or Google Cardboard app. However, the lack of casing does provide one distinct advantage – the device can actually fold away into your pocket, rather than having to be carried around in a special case. The fact that the Wearality Sky can so easily be folded up makes the lenses more resistant to getting dirty and scratched as well.
The team behind the technology
Wearality Sky is the creation of a highly competent technical team. Wearality’s CEO, David A. Smith, is in charge of innovating new technologies at Lockheed Martin. Smith is often seen at VR exhibitions, introducing Wearality Sky models with different fields of view – both their original model, with its 150 degree field of view, and a new prototype that offers a 180 degree FOV.
Mark Bolas is the team’s technical advisor, and has been associated with projects run by USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies. Other big names are the reputed computer specialist Alan Kay, and the founder of eleVR, Vi Hart.
A new milestone in VR
The patented Fresnel lenses used by Wearality Sky tend to provide a rather optimal visual experience in VR. The Wearality Sky offers reduced weight, an enhanced field of view, a very compact pair of VR goggles, and high levels of visual fidelity, all of which – put together – is really quite impressive. The device offers excellent visual clarity, quite on par with most other equivalent headsets and goggles. The lenses of most VR headsets tend to distort colors around the edges – this is an effect of the sophisticated lenses used in these headsets. However, Wearality Sky seems to reduce this to a considerable extent as well.
The Fresnel lenses themselves are said to be an offshoot of technology used within the aerospace company, Lockheed Martin, that provides the U.S. government with military technology. The company’s Kickstarter campaign did very well, incidentally.
When you first put on the Wearality Sky, it doesn’t look too expressive. This is because the device has options for different fields of view, all keyed to a special app that Wearality has designed. The app allows for incrementally wider fields of view, so you may not be too impressed the first time you look into a Wearality Sky. But adjust the field of view, and you’ll be astounded. It widens, cycling through higher and higher fields until you’re looking at an astounding 150 degrees that gives you a real feeling of ‘space’.
When set to the maximum field of view that the device can provide, the VR experience provided is truly impressive. The wider angles are certainly far more immersive, and provide for a much greater level of realism. With clear images no matter in which direction you look, the Wearality Sky provides an experience like no other. Here’s a look into a Wearality Sky…
It’s rather a pity that this brilliant lens technology is coupled to a mere mobile-phone headpiece, rather than to a sophisticated system of high-resolution screens like that of the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.
These Fresnel lenses allow for less space between the device’s screen and the lens, allowing for far more compact VR devices. However, Wearality is also working on a sophisticated new prototype lens that will be even thinner and lighter. The new lens is thinner than the average small coin. Not only will this reduce the weight of the VR devices of the future, but it will further reduce the distance between the lens and the image-generating screens, allowing devices to become even more compact. The VR devices of the future may be just as compact as the average ski mask. The new lenses will also allow for fields of vision that expand to an astounding 180 degrees – a good deal closer to the human field of vision, which ranges at around 220 degrees.
Reviews and first-hand impressions
While using Wearality Sky, unlike some of the VR headsets out there, one does not feel as if one were suffering from tunnel vision, limited by the small field of vision that one has to look through. In fact, if you try using an older model of mobile with it, or one with a smaller screen, you might find that your smartphone’s screen falls short on size due to the field of view offered by the goggles.
One intriguing aspect of this VR device is that it isn’t enclosed in the usual casing that VR headsets use to prevent light bleed. Oddly enough, the goggles work perfectly well indoors, and one doesn’t notice any significant levels of light bleeding in from the environment. However, the stretchable cloth cover that’s provided with the goggles can quite easily block out higher levels of ambient light. Not only does this arrangement let one feel less ‘enclosed’ than with a conventional headset, but one avoids the high levels of heat and humidity that are such a bane to the conventional headset.
Another advantage of the Wearality Sky is that it can be used with phones that have a large protective casing. You’ll find that the phone fits very easily into the goggles’ frame without forcing you to remove the casing every time you want to use the device. If you have a smaller phone, there’s an adapter provided with the goggles that will allow you to use it, though it goes without saying that the smaller screen will limit the wide field of view that is a trademark of the device.
You must never clean the lenses by immersing them in water. This is because (in the case of each of the device’s lenses) what seems to be a single lens is actually two lenses that are clamped together. This means that the device actually has four lenses. If you immerse them in water or in a cleansing solution, liquid may get between the lenses, and then you’ll have to dismantle the device to remove it. This isn’t hard to do, but if you do dismantle the device in such a situation, remember that the two lenses clamped together aren’t interchangeable.
One lens belongs in front, and one behind, so if you dismantle the device, you should put the ‘front’ lenses into a clearly marked pouch, and make sure they are in front when you put the device together again.
How good is Wearality Sky?
Very good, really, for a pair of mobile based VR goggles. It’s cheap, provides an exceptional field of view, and it actually folds down to fit in your pocket – something that not many other high-quality VR headsets can do. They’re also built to last, and, since they incorporate no electronics, and will probably outlast most headsets that do. Those who wear glasses will find that they’re not needed when using the Wearality Sky, as the device focuses the eyes perfectly. While the device has been built to fit a person wearing glasses, they have not proved to be necessary for anyone we had try the device.
Customer service with the Wearality Sky is exceptional. We had a small issue with the lenses, and customer support sent detailed instructions on how to dismantle the device, as well as sending us a replacement, which arrived in a couple of days.
All in all, Wearality Sky is an excellent buy. The mobile-based goggles provide perhaps the best experience of virtual reality in its class, and one that actually provides features that even the most advanced headsets today do not. Of course, the Wearality Sky can hardly complete with the Rift or the Vive for resolution, and – so far at least – the Rift and Vive can’t compare with it for a wide field of view. The Wearality Sky remains an exceptional VR experience – at least until the Rift or Vive upgrade their lenses to match it for FOV.
A Type-C USB adapter is possibly one of the most crucial parts in a Gear VR, since it is what allows it to interface with mobile phones. If you’ve got a slightly older Gear VR, and have upgraded your phone, you may find that it is incompatible with your Gear VR. If that’s the case, you’ll need to buy one of these adapters. The same applies if you have a newer Gear VR, but have lost the adapter that is supplied with it.
However, while it’s not hard to find a USB C adapter, it should actually fit with your Gear VR, and more importantly, allow your mobile to fit into the device. The key here is compatibility.
For those searching for the exact part in question, the official part-number is GH98-40350A.
Samsung doesn’t stock the part
The official Samsung website doesn’t seem to stock a compatible part. While there are Type-C adapters available on the Samsung site, they all look like they won’t really fit the Gear VR. Calling Samsung customer support hardly seems to solve the problem, especially if you have an older Gear VR. They’ll probably try to get you to simply buy a newer Gear VR, which is not quite the fix you were searching for. After all, you don’t want to pay over a hundred bucks to solve a problem that can be solved with a part that costs roughly $14.
Samsung and compatibility
This part is so crucial because the earlier Gear VR models didn’t have much in terms of potential compatibility. Samsung does provide backward compatibility with its latest Gear VR, whose adapter can shift between Type C and Type B. However, the fact that an adapter that would provide a crucial link between older Gear VRs and more modern mobiles is not stocked by Samsung officially definitely means that their support services leave something to be desired.
Stores that you could source the part from
There are some stores offering the part. However, not all of these are reliable. For example, this part is available at samsungparts.com. By all accounts, though, their service is substandard and not recommended. Moreover, while they charge about thirteen dollars for the part itself, customers ordering the part from Europe are charged an exorbitant twenty three dollars for shipping alone, plus, of course, the cost of the part, all of which is rather ridiculous. There are also a host of negative reviews on the site, and all-in-all, it’s best to give it the go-by.
And then there’s eBay
The best place to get a Gear VR USB C Adapter really is eBay. Just paste the part number into their search box, and you’ll get a whole slew of sellers offering you the part, and people who have bought it say it fits and works perfectly. This is a nice place to buy the part, because their buyer protection is really good, which ensures that you really get a working and compatible part… or your money back. Here’s the cheapest option on eBay that we could find, but you could certainly look around for yourself as well.
It might be wise to order one extra in advance, even if you already have one, since it really is indispensable to your Gear VR experience.
Once you don an HTC Vive, it becomes perfectly obvious why this is considered the premium VR experience today.
Everything about this headset says ‘quality’
The material and workmanship are excellent, and the headset itself is built to last. And that’s just the beginning.
The headset delivers exceptional visual clarity
The visual quality is quite simply the best on the market. Resolutions are excellent, and while the HTC Vive Pro takes that one step further, the visual clarity of the classic Vive is perfectly satisfactory. You can hardly notice the infamous ‘grid effect’, even when you’re actually looking for it. The quality of the tracking is utterly precise, while the high refresh rate of the screens allows you to turn your head to look around without any tell-tale after image to spoil immersion.
The three adjustable straps provide support and distribute the weight really well. The tie behind the head is well designed, and the front of the headset does not weigh on the nose. How comfortable the headset is depends – to some extent – on the exact shape of one’s face, but most users find it comfortable, and quickly progress to hardly feeling it at all in VR sessions. The design also makes it possible to turn suddenly without the headset’s weight interfering with your immersion in VR.
The headset is very well supported even when you’re looking at the ground, which is a notorious weakness in other models. Even in that situation, as the headset tightens on the face, it feels good, a bit like a ski mask, actually; without giving the impression of having significant weight. Those who use glasses can use them with the headset, thanks to inserts provided in the foam for the frames.
The design of the Vive controllers is excellent. In addition to being pleasant to hold, their motion detection and integration into the virtual world are almost perfect. Your movements, even the more subtle ones, are always recognized. All the buttons are intuitive and easy to reach, and the large track-pad on the joysticks is very useful as well. A small white dot tells you where your finger is, and clearly limits handling errors. The trigger on the back is also easy to reach and use.
One of the best features is the interaction between the controllers themselves. Reloading a shotgun or bending a bow with a realistic movement greatly enhances immersion. All in all, the Vive’s controllers are sophisticated and perfectly satisfactory.
Sensors and Connections
The laser sensors are very well attuned to the device. However, one will sometimes need to re-calibrate the room, which should take no more than a few minutes. The length of the wires is more than adequate to most gaming sessions, though one has to set them so that they don’t get tangled in the feet.
If there’s any cause for complaint with the headset, it would be the wires. Indeed, just about the only negative aspect of the Vive are the cords and connections that link the headset to the PC. One has to be careful not to entangle one’s legs in them while using the headset. However, with TPCAST as an available third-party solution and an official wireless adapter due to come out soon, that issue will most likely be a thing of the past.
The built-in camera
The integrated camera allows one to ‘check up on’ the real world at any time without having to remove the Vive. Simply press the menu button that returns one to SteamVR (without exiting your game), and then activate the front camera of the headset. The built-in camera allows you to look around, to avoid a cat trying to trip you up or to pick up a drink from your desk.
So, as far as the hardware is concerned, this headset is one of the absolutely best on the market, and a premium buy.
But what’s the content available for the Vive like?
Remember Alice in Wonderland, and the strange realms she found on the other side of the rabbit hole? Buying a Vive is an experience that could rival that one in magnitude.
So let’s follow the white rabbit down the rabbit hole…
We never heard that Alice complained about her jaunt in ‘virtual reality’, and it’s unlikely that you will either. If the Vive promises immersion, it delivers on that promise. Whatever the game chosen, one finds oneself caught up in the action. VR has the undeniable advantage of keeping you moving, unlike the previous generation of games, which tended to ensure that users chronically slouched on their sofas, or in front of a computer screen.
There’s a vast range of content available for the Vive. Here’s a small selection of the titles available today…
Time Machine VR, an exploration game that takes you into prehistory
Time Machine VR takes place in Norway, in the near future. The player must return to prehistoric times to collect data on all creatures her or she encounters along the way. For good reason, as it turns out, as humanity is about to disappear because of a prehistoric virus, and this data may be able to create an antivirus. Implausible, but in the game universe, supposedly the honest truth. Nevertheless, it makes for an engrossing game.
In addition to the story mode, an Exploration mode allows you to return to previously visited destinations to let you take your time exploring and collecting data. The controls of the game may seem strange at first glance, but help make the experience unique and original. A spectacular exploration game, available on Steam for € 22.99.
TheBlu, a deep-sea exploration experience
TheBlu is one of the most immersive and impressive HTC Vive experiences of the moment. There are three scenarios available, including an encounter with a whale, a journey through coral reefs, and a trip into the deep abyss. Each of these is unique and very engaging. The environments are detailed, and the sea creatures very realistic. A game for virtual underwater explorers, available for € 6.99 on Steam.
The Solus Project – Survival in an alien realm
The Solus Project is a survival game like no other. You find yourself on an alien planet with sublimely artistic scenery and will have to try to find food and shelter before thinking about how you could escape this beautiful but essentially hostile environment.
Enemies are present, but you are encouraged to avoid them, because engaging them will often result in the death of your character. That makes this game a great deal more realistic than most ‘superhero’ shooters. A poetic, realistic game, where the tension is so palpable that it guarantees immersion. The Solus Project is available for € 18.99
Vanishing Realms, a brilliant and engaging RPG
Vanishing Realms was developed exclusively for virtual reality by Indimo Labs. Armed with a sword, you explore a mysterious world filled with fantastic creatures. While quite a few of those creatures can prove to be major nuisances in close proximity, the appeal of the game is undeniable. Available for € 19.99 on Steam.
Fallout 4 VR
Fallout 4 is certainly one of the best FPS / RPGs of all time. Developed by Bethesda, this game offers a vast world to explore freely, thrilling quests, and a dynamic and captivating combat system. In Fallout 4 VR, the player can immerse themselves in a stunningly realistic virtual world of first-person role-play. You can find it at a heavily discounted price on Kinguin.
In Superhot VR, time stops as long as the player does not move. Thus, the player must take the time to examine his or her situation and then down several enemies in a row using firearms or decorative items.
With its innovative gameplay and stylized graphics, Superhot VR is already a very good game on the PC, but takes a whole new dimension in VR. The player must actually bend down and lean over to dodge enemy shots, which is all rather reminiscent of the movie Matrix. An indispensable game for the VR enthusiast. Discounts available on Kinguin.
Island 359 – Dinosaur hunting on the HTC Vive
In this game, you will play a mercenary who finds himself on a hostile island populated by dinosaurs. Arm yourself to survive, and enter a universe where the dinosaurs are so well modelled that you will truly fear for your life. Island 359 is available for € 19.99.
Ah, but you’re one of those who prefer space exploration sagas? The Vive has that covered as well…
Elite Dangerous VR, a VR space exploration game
Despite the fact that it is not specifically created for VR and the HTC Vive, Elite Dangerous tends to make the most of the Vive Headset. It allows for graphic immersion in what is a classic space opera. The graphics are exquisite, with everything from the space stations you dock with to the controls of your spaceship being brilliantly rendered. Elite Dangerous VR is available from €17.99 on Kinguin.
EVE Valkyrie, the ultimate space saga
If you have just about any of the major VR headsets, you can play EVE Valkyrie multiplayer, and this game is truly worth playing. It takes the legendary EVE series to a whole new level. Join galactic pirates or those who combat them, upgrade your ship and explore a vast and engaging cosmos. The graphics are sumptuous, and the immersion legendary. It’s a progressive game, allowing you to level up and improve your character and your starship. Latch on to this one for days of immersive gaming. Available on Kinguin for heavily discounted €24.99.
Now you understand the lure of the Vive, young Padawan…
The vast range of quality content available for this platform, combined with the excellent visual quality, tracking and comfort levels of the headset make this one of the best virtual reality experiences in the world today. And that’s if you don’t spring for the Vive Pro, which is even better.
If you want one the best possible VR experiences on the market without bleeding your wallet dry, this is it. Best bang for the buck out there.