If you're like me and spend all your time reading about VR at work and can't access Reddit, you might want to read a bit more about Gear VR so here's my take on it since mine just got delivered last night. FYI; I spent a *lot* of time with my DK1, but decided to skip the DK2 and wait for the CV so I haven't really seen the resolution/low persistence/positional tracking of the DK2.
I think the most incredibly important thing that Samsung/Oculus got right was the ease of use. I feel like I could give this to my parents and they would be able to figure out how to work it and navigate through things. The Gear VR comes in it's own carry case, and plugging the phone into the front of the device and clipping it in is pretty straight-forward. Once on, you're asked to download some updates and you're good to go!
The focus wheel is an interesting touch. I have found myself fiddling with it far too much, before settling with somewhere closer to the far left. It didn't seem particularly clear to me where it should be set or why. I just moved it back and forth until I found something somewhat comfortable, but kept fiddling throughout.
Same with the straps. I feel like the straps dig into my ears a bit more, and that it's trying to hold the Gear a bit *too* high up for me to hit the sweet spot. Maybe with some more playing around I'll be able to get it just right.
Once I got all that situated, I was treated to a REALLY amazing video of the Earth, that changed to a scenic landscape, that changed to being with an (Indian?) family. Nothing really clicked 'till I saw the family. That was a pretty solid feeling of presence. Ironically, that was also the moment I decided I should probably be hearing something. Nowhere in the startup did it mention putting on headphones or plugging them into your phone, so don't forget to do that!
Quick summary of content I tried;
The 3d Videos - Probably the best bit of content available. A *little* fuzzy, but when you see an actual person it looks pretty amazing. I believe that this is going to be the way to go for the Gear VR going forward. Great sense of presence and the scene around you. The musician bit was a *little* boring after a few minutes, but just taking in the room was a great experience. Same with Cirque de Soleil.
Oculus Cinema - Also incredibly impressive. Probably the closest I came to presence was sitting the the theater or on the moon watching trailers. The 3d trailers looked great, and I could easily see myself watching a full movie in there. I've just got to get around to finding out how to encode one or something now.
3d Photo View - Skimmed through a bunch of these. Pretty cool. Not stereoscopic 3d though? I imagine it's just a single sphere rendered twice. Interesting, but not as good as the video.
Now for the disappointing bit. Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely love the work people have put into their project and the content and whatnot and much appreciated, but this is where the limitations of the phone come into full swing.
BluVR had some *really* impressive models that looked great! But the whole ocean just looks so empty. The artic section attempts to spice it up a bit by adding really flat icebergs, but even then I just couldn't shake the empty feeling. Compared to something like OceanRift on the DK1, I'd definitely take the blurrier screen and high persistence to have a computer hardware backing with more content.
Titans of Space was one of my favorite DK1 experiences. Completely blew me away on DK1, and it's my go-to showpiece for what the technology can do. On the Gear VR though, the limitations are just so-so much. Doing away with stereoscopic 3d is a tough sell. The ship has been reduced to a chair on a floating platform. You can't even see all the planets at once. It looks like there is an option for that, but it says 'locked' likely due to the limitations of phone.
I want to stress that neither of these were bad experience at all (drash, don't beat me up!) but just compared to what I've seen on the DK1 (Not even the DK2, mind you) these experience are more of 'Oh, neat' rather than the 'Oh my god.' that they were before.
It makes me think that the future of this device (this iteration, anyways) should be mostly focused on 3d video capturing techniques. I feel like a game or an app that incorporates captured 3d video instead of attempting to render everything might find significantly more immersion and more success. But I also look forward to being proven wrong.
All in all - I love the little thing. I already had a Note 3, but I love the Note 4 and this just sweetens the deal. Oculus Cinema looks amazing, the 3d videos are pretty amazing, the apps are pretty neat if nothing else, and I managed to go through about 3 hours of content using 80% of battery. Only got warm during Titans of Space, but never had any overheating messages.
Also, 3d popup notifications for things on the phone were pretty cool. Good job Oculus, Samsung, and all the devs! I'm looking forward to trying some more content tonight.