Here at Digital Trends we’re big fans of Samsung’s Gear VR headset. In fact, it won our highly coveted Product of the Year award back in 2015. While there are newer virtual reality headsets in the market, including a new headset from Samsung, the original Gear VR is still an excellent introduction to virtual reality.
Back in September, it was discounted to $60. For a limited time only, A4C is offering Samsung’s 2015 Gear VR bundled with Galaxy S6 earphones for just $50. That beats Amazon’s and Best Buy’s price by $10. It does also work with Samsung’s Galaxy S7 phones, with the exception of the now recalled Galaxy Note 7.
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 glasses 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 — it supports the Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge+, S6, S6 Edge, S7, and S7 Edge — the Gear VR isn’t just a glorified cradle for your device. 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 the minute 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 your telekinetic powers. Apps are acquired through the Oculus Store and we found a new gem every time we opened the store.
Although the Gear VR is fun to use, it’s not perfect. It suffers from “the screen door effect,” which means it’s possible to see pixels and the gaps between them when you have the headset on. Also, the headset only works when you’re sitting up straight. This may seem like a small gripe, but several VR apps involve you lying on the beach and relaxing in a virtual world. Users should be able to lay down in both the real and virtual worlds.
Perhaps its biggest caveat is that there’s a new 2016 Gear VR headset that Samsung introduced in August. However, if you plan on being more of a casual VR user and don’t require the latest and greatest hardware, the 2015 Samsung Gear VR is an excellent way to dip your feet into virtual reality and a tough bargain to beat at $50.