Best product of 2015

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

best products of year winner 2015 dt samsung gear vr
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.

Product Review

Nintendo’s Labo VR Kit may look silly, but it really works

During our hands-on with the Nintendo Labo VR Kit, fears of a gimmicky product from Nintendo were quickly dispelled. While not a direct competitor to Oculus or HTCs own headsets, Labo VR brings a clever, new way to experience VR that makes…
Virtual Reality

HTC’s stand-alone Vive Focus Plus will be out in April, and it won’t be cheap

The HTC Vive Focus Plus is set to release on April 15 to commercial businesses and developers. The stand-alone headset features the "six degrees of freedom" system, and includes hazard-tracking protection.
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Computing

Oculus shows off the Rift S, plans to phase out its original VR headset

Oculus plans to phase out its flagship Rift VR headset for its newly created Rift S. The Rift S made its debut this week at the 2019 Game Developers Conference and is expected to be released in spring 2019.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.
Emerging Tech

Asteroid Ryugu is porous, shaped like a spinning top, and is formed of rubble

The Japanese Space Agency has been exploring a distant asteroid named Ryugu with its probe, Hayabusa 2. Now the first results from study of the asteroid are in, with three new papers published.
Emerging Tech

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super-speedy pulsar

A super-speedy pulsar has been spotted dashing across the sky, discovered using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Very Large Array. The pulsar is traveling at a breathtaking 2.5 million miles an hour.
Emerging Tech

Chilean telescope uncovers one of the oldest star clusters in the galaxy

An ultra-high definition image captured by the Gemini South telescope in Chile has uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way. The cluster, called HP 1, could give clues to how our galaxy was formed billions of years ago.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers discover giant chimneys spewing energy from the center of the galaxy

Astronomers have discovered two exhaust channels which are funneling matter and energy away from the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy and out towards the edges of the galaxy, dubbed galactic center chimneys.
Emerging Tech

A milestone in the history of particle physics: Why does matter exist?

If matter and antimatter were both produced in equal amounts by the Big Bang, why is there so much matter around us and so little antimatter? A new experiment from CERN may hold the answer to this decades-long puzzle.