Here at Digital Trends, we’re big fans of the Samsung Gear VR headset. In fact, it won our Product of the Year award back in 2015. While there are newer virtual reality headsets on the market, the original Gear VR is still an excellent and affordable introduction to virtual reality. Samsung refined the design a bit last year, and the newest model is now available for $55 on Amazon.
In our review, we found that the Gear VR is a lot of fun and very easy to use. If you happen to wear glasses, it’s large enough to fit over most pairs, and the rubber mask and felt pad fit snugly around your face. The pads are also removable and washable, which should help them last longer than the cheaper foam pads found in less expensive headsets.
Although the headset requires a Samsung device, the Gear VR isn’t just a glorified cradle for your phone. The two work in conjunction with one another. For instance, the smart interface causes your device’s screen to shut down when you take off the headset. Likewise, it automatically starts up when you put it back on. That kind of smart integration puts the Gear VR a notch above other competing headsets.
Selecting what you want to do is as easy as looking at it and tapping the OK button on the headset. The OK button is accompanied by a directional pad and a Back button that works like the Home button on your Android device.
Among our favorite games is Land’s End, which lets players float around serene islands, solving simple puzzles with their telekinetic powers. Apps are acquired through the Oculus Store, and we found a new gem every time we opened the store.
Some of the refinements to be found in the newer 2016 model include larger lenses for a slightly enhanced field of view, an improved body design that prevents light from bleeding into the headset while in use, and USB-C connectivity for use with newer devices. Normally priced around $80 to $100, the international version of the 2016 Samsung Gear VR is now available on Amazon for just $55. Note that the international version is essentially identical to the U.S. model, but the packaging and instructions may not be in English.