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Best product of 2015

Samsung's Gear VR is the Model T of the virtual reality revolution

best-of-2015-winner

Winner
Samsung Gear VR

The last 12 months saw some truly impressive leaps forward in tech. Amazon’s Echo helped make the dream of smart homes closer to reality. Dell’s XPS 13 dethroned Apple and set a whole new design paradigm for laptops. LG’s first 4K OLED TV combined two futuristic technologies to jaw-dropping effect.

But none of them reshaped the future of technology more than Samsung’s Gear VR, our Best Product of 2015. It’s not the best VR headset out there, or even the first. But like Ford’s Model T or Kodak’s Brownie, it’s the one that’s going to set the world on fire with the possibilities of this promising new technology.

The Gear VR is virtual reality for the everyman. At $100, Samsung’s Gear VR is cheap enough for even the stodgiest VR skeptic to pick up on a whim, provided he or she owns one of the four Samsung Galaxy devices it works with. More important, every snag and rough edge of earlier VR headsets has been filed down for the mainstream. The new foam face cushions are comfortable and washable. It fits over glasses. The matte plastic resists fingerprints. You look like less of an idiot wearing one.

Samsung is stomping on the accelerator and crashing VR into living rooms.

These are all crucial for the Gear VR’s appeal, but it’s still the experience that will sell it – and VR in general – to the masses. Games like the transcendent Land’s End, from the developers of Monument Valley, truly deliver on the immersive possibilities of VR. You can coast through serene, surreal environments solving puzzles or simply exploring. It’s unlike anything you’ve experienced on a phone, a computer, or a TV. Not looking to relax? Don’t worry, you can also jetpack around a city with a shotgun, watch Netflix on a mondo VR screen, or partake in psychedelic short films that will have you wondering if you just awoke from a dream as you peel off the headset.

No, Samsung’s Gear VR is not the full-blown Oculus Rift we’re all awaiting. But by making the Gear VR cheap, mobile, and still supremely satisfying, Samsung is stomping on the accelerator and crashing VR into living rooms — while Oculus wunderkind Lucky Palmer is still busy turning wrenches under the hood of the Rift. And for that, it’s our favorite product of 2015.