2016 has now come to an end and the push for virtual reality headsets by companies like HTC Vive, Gear VR and Sony have already been tested in the holiday season’s “Advertising new product” testing range. If you didn’t pick up a headset yet or are still on the fence then don’t worry, You’re still in the game. The playing field for the best headsets are still fair game to anyone and this type of competition is only going to make things better.
Let’s begin with a brief reference to where VR consumerism has taken us up to this point. If you have purchased a phone in 2016, Android or Apple then you were at one point probably offered a free VR headsets to go with it. Or at least one at a discounted price. These are drop-in headsets for your iPhone or Android and are attached to the back of the headset using your mobile devices screen as the VR screen. The top two are the Samsung Gear VR for Samsung and Android phones and the Freefly VR for IPhone (also compatible with most mobile phones). Gear VR is a bit more well known in the states because of the amount of press and big guy backing, however the Freefly has been around for just as long and is doing a very good job at user experience.
Because of the limits of the cell phone device that you are using you may get a difference in experience between headsets with big computer processing power and headsets that are mobile device powered. Let’s look at the specs. Every headset is rated by the field of view (FOV). That’s the area of space that you can see from front of site to peripheral. The bigger the degrees the better the emersion and the best experience.
Gear VR by Samsung, is one of the first players to the game. It was originally co-developed with the Oculus and’s main purpose was to work in as a drop in headset for smart phones. This is in contrast to VR headsets that are connected to a computer like its counterpart the Oculus.
There have been a few versions of this headset, but in general it was made to better fit a mobile phone neatly into the slot so that your smart phone becomes the screen of the headset. There is a track pad on the right side of the VR headset that allow for scrolling and selection when in menu mode and also act as a controller for some games. At times this can be cumbersome, but there are several 3rd party controllers as well as a controller that Gear VR offers optionally with the headset.
The Gear VR fits most of any type of Samsung Smartphone however because of the recent events with the Samsung Note 7, they have included an adapter so that later model phones can work with the Gear VR as well. adapters are never a good thing but it does open up the window to the compatibility problems with the headset.
Now as far as the emersion of drop in headsets for mobile phones, the experience is going to be very similar. Reason being is that you are depending more or less on the phones capabilities and lets face it, without a huge computer with lot’s of processing power you are not going to get the emersion of say an Oculus. However, the headsets offer a pretty impressive 96° field of view (FOV) by design of the lenses.
The Price range of the Gear VR is between $70.00 – $100.00 depending on added accessories, like control pads, wireless blue tooth controllers or kooshy, soft, eye covers which help to keep down on fogginess and are soft as heck.
Freefly VR may be less heard of than the Gear VR, but it is making waves in the tech immersive entertainment industry. The Company is out of the UK and has partners like Virgin Megastore and Toys R Us to name a few. Started in 2013, Freefly has a small yet growing piece of the global market.
Out of the box, Freefly has a bit of an edgy look to it which can get some getting use to, but is light weight and lined with a soft faux leather. There is no controller on the headset however, it comes with a blue tooth mini controller specifically designed for it. The controller is much like a thumb controller that fits in one hand and has more tactile responsiveness than that of the Gear VR’s side D-pad.
Unlike the gear VR the Freefly can fit most Samsung phones, Iphones and other phones from about 4 inches to 6 and a half inches. There is no adaptor but adjustment grips for length and width of the phone.
When matched up against Gear VR we have a Field of View (FOV) of 120°, that’s 24° more than the Gear VR. It also boasts an anti fog surface and is light weight.
If you are thinking about purchasing one of these headsets then look at paying around $60 – $70 that includes the blue tooth controller on some of the headsets.
Buy Freefly VR Buy Gear VR