Virtual Reality

Tips and tricks for the Samsung Gear VR

Tips and tricks for the Samsun...
Gizmag has some tips to get you started with the Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR
Gizmag has some tips to get you started with the Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR
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An air canister can be your friend in keeping dust off your lenses (which translate to annoying splotches in your field of view)
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An air canister can be your friend in keeping dust off your lenses (which translate to annoying splotches in your field of view)
Two gamepads we tested: the Steelseries Stratus XL (left) and Moga Hero Power
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Two gamepads we tested: the Steelseries Stratus XL (left) and Moga Hero Power
The Oculus Store app on your smartphone lets you install your apps before you start VR – potentially extending how long you can play
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The Oculus Store app on your smartphone lets you install your apps before you start VR – potentially extending how long you can play
Chemicals designed to de-fog scuba masks also works great for VR headsets
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Chemicals designed to de-fog scuba masks also works great for VR headsets
You can charge your headset while playing, with a couple caveats
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You can charge your headset while playing, with a couple caveats
A pair of quality cans will give you the best audio experience, and often underrated part of virtual reality
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A pair of quality cans will give you the best audio experience, and often underrated part of virtual reality
The Oculus Store's comfort ratings help you to steer clear of apps that may make you feel queasy
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The Oculus Store's comfort ratings help you to steer clear of apps that may make you feel queasy
If all else is equal, we recommend going with the 5.7-inch Samsung phones (Note 5 or Galaxy S6 edge+) inside the Gear VR
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If all else is equal, we recommend going with the 5.7-inch Samsung phones (Note 5 or Galaxy S6 edge+) inside the Gear VR
Gizmag has some tips to get you started with the Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR
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Gizmag has some tips to get you started with the Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR
You'll get the most out of the Gear VR's wireless nature with a spinning office chair
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You'll get the most out of the Gear VR's wireless nature with a spinning office chair

One of the perks of Samsung and Oculus releasing public developer kits for the Gear VR headset is that, though it just became a consumer product, some of us have already been using different versions of the headset for over a year. Let us help you get started with some handy tips and tricks to get the most out of the consumer Gear VR.

Play in a spinning chair

You'll get the most out of the Gear VR's wireless nature with a spinning office chair
You'll get the most out of the Gear VR's wireless nature with a spinning office chair

The Gear VR isn't nearly as powerful as its PC-based sibling, the Oculus Rift, but the Gear has one big advantage in being wireless. You'll want to take full advantage of that and play in a spinning chair, like an office chair or stool.

If you don't have access to one, then you can always just play standing up. Failing either of those options, you'd better stick to games that face mostly in one general direction (both Herobound games and Eve: Gunjack are prime examples).

Avoid lens fog

Chemicals designed to de-fog scuba masks also works great for VR headsets
Chemicals designed to de-fog scuba masks also works great for VR headsets

Samsung solved most of the tech issues with the Gear VR Innovator Editions, but until someone invents a wonder lens coating that prevents lens fog, chemistry dictates that it will be an issue in every VR headset. After playing for a while fog will go away on its own (it's caused by a discrepancy in temperature between the lenses and the phone; that gets narrower after you've been playing for a while), but you can also be proactive about it.

There are plenty of affordable chemical products designed for scuba gear that get the job done. We've had success with both Clarity Defog It wipes and Jaws Quick Spit, but we prefer the latter simply because it's so much cheaper. It runs around US$6 a bottle on Amazon, and lasts for at least 200 sprays. Before jumping into VR, just spray some solution onto your finger, massage into each lens, wipe off the excess and enjoy fog-free virtual reality.

Keep it clean

An air canister can be your friend in keeping dust off your lenses (which translate to annoying splotches in your field of view)
An air canister can be your friend in keeping dust off your lenses (which translate to annoying splotches in your field of view)

There's nothing more annoying than sliding your Galaxy phone into your headset, plugging in your headphones, getting your gamepad ready, strapping it on your head ... only to realize there's an annoying spec of dust right in your field of view.

We keep an air canister handy to blow off both sides of the lenses as well as the phone screen before starting up, and that almost always keeps the field of view free of distractions. Or, if you enjoy getting lightheaded, your own lungs can meet the same end.

Download your apps outside of VR

The Oculus Store app on your smartphone lets you install your apps before you start VR – potentially extending how long you can play
The Oculus Store app on your smartphone lets you install your apps before you start VR – potentially extending how long you can play

Overheating was a big problem on the first (2014) Gear VR Innovator Edition headset, but it's pretty much a non-issue in the consumer version. The only time we ran into the issue was when, while wearing the headset, we queued up a few apps for download and played something else while they were installing.

VR content can sometimes work your phone pretty hard so it isn't too surprising that adding background downloads to the mix can make things hot. Extend your sessions by downloading your content in the Oculus Store app on your phone a few minutes before jumping in.

Get an Android-compatible gamepad

Two gamepads we tested: the Steelseries Stratus XL (left) and Moga Hero Power
Two gamepads we tested: the Steelseries Stratus XL (left) and Moga Hero Power

This may go without saying, but Samsung's built-in touchpad only gets you so far on the Gear VR. Some of the best games require a gamepad and others provide a better experience with one.

We love the Steelseries Stratus XL (left), but not everyone wants to add $70 to the cost of smartphone and headset already required to use the Gear. For a gamepad that feels cheaper but gets the job done just the same, we've had no issues with the $28 Moga Hero Power (right).

Use headphones

A pair of quality cans will give you the best audio experience, and often underrated part of virtual reality
A pair of quality cans will give you the best audio experience, and often underrated part of virtual reality

Virtual reality is a largely visual experience, but don't underestimate the effect that audio has on your feeling of being somewhere else.

The Gear VR can broadcast game audio through the phone's speakers, but that's going to make for a lousy experience. The earbuds that came with your phone will be a step up from that, but, if you have access to them, a quality pair of cans (those are Sennheiser Momentums you see above) will crank your sense of presence up to 11 in the Gear's virtual worlds.

Know your tolerance

The Oculus Store's comfort ratings help you to steer clear of apps that may make you feel queasy
The Oculus Store's comfort ratings help you to steer clear of apps that may make you feel queasy

Some people are more sensitive than others to motion sickness in VR, and some content is more likely to make you feel queasy than others.

Fortunately Oculus is on top of this and includes comfort ratings in the Oculus Store app listings: ratings like "comfortable for most," "comfortable for some" or "comfortable for few." Compare your reactions to these ratings and use them to guide you towards and, if necessary, away from games that do or don't fit your tolerance.

Watch your phone's battery life

You can charge your headset while playing, with a couple caveats
You can charge your headset while playing, with a couple caveats

Unlike something like a 3DS or Vita, you may not be able to just drop the Gear VR on a charger and forget it about it until you use it next – after all, that's your smartphone powering things on the inside. The Gear VR has built-in charging capabilities, so you can leave it plugged in while playing and keep your phone's battery juiced up.

There are, however, a couple of caveats. It (annoyingly) only works with Samsung chargers, so you'll want to use the one that came with your Galaxy phone. And since that cable isn't very long, you won't likely be able to plug into a power outlet – so your best option is to leave a portable charger on your lap or in your pocket while you're playing.

If you skip this option you may be just fine. Using a Galaxy S6 edge+ inside the Gear VR, its battery usually only drops around 15-20 percent for a full hour of VR gaming. If you have time before going about your day, you can also just drop the phone on its Quick Charging cable for a few minutes after you're done.

If all else is equal, go with the phablets

If all else is equal, we recommend going with the 5.7-inch Samsung phones (Note 5 or Galaxy S6 edge+) inside the Gear VR
If all else is equal, we recommend going with the 5.7-inch Samsung phones (Note 5 or Galaxy S6 edge+) inside the Gear VR

Though it isn't a dramatic difference, when we use one after the other, we can appreciate the wider field of view you get from the larger two Galaxy phones that play nicely with the Gear VR (Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+). They have 5.7-inch screens, compared to 5.1-inchers in the Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge.

Of course we're talking about the phone you use every day and leave in your pocket, so it's ultimately most important to go with the one you prefer as a phone. Only let the slightly better Gear VR experience affect your decision if you're torn 50/50 between big Galaxy and smaller Galaxy.

For more on our favorite wearable of 2015, you can hit up Gizmag's Gear VR review and our list of the best games and apps for the Oculus-powered headset.

17 comments
JamielCullins
Definitely the coolest thing I purchased. The field of view a slightly better with the note 5. I solved my Fogging issues by making sure I warm it up next to the heater or with a blow dryer before using. Using youtube via samsung Internet is awesome. A lot of 3d content and 360 videos there.
Kell
Do all bluetooth headphones give off a hiss? I don't have enough pairs to compare...
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Looks heavy. Needs helmet with fan for support.
SaleemKhan
Bought it a week ago. As i inserted my Samsung galaxy s6 edge+ nothing happened ti it phone just stayed in normal screen.as i have seen others downloads some oculus apps but nothing happened with mine. Any tips any help please reply or email at saleemkh7109@gmail.com help!!! Thanks
ScottieSales
Make sure you have done any phone updates, this has been the cause of alot of people not able to start up straight away. bought mine a week ago for christmas... best peice of tech I have ever had!! trying to link it to PC right now to play Arma 3, Warthunder, Fallout 4 in VR :) any advice anyone?
mlpierson
I'm using my Gear VR with a Samsung S6 Edge and I have a tough time keeping my phone's temp down. I've had times where my phone will overheat in less than 10 mins. It gets annoying. I've found that I have to leave my phone alone for a time to make sure it's cold to the touch before putting it in the Gear VR. I can get a half an hour out of it that way. The other thing I've done is to sandwich a cold pack out of the freezer in between the phone and the Gear VR cover. If anyone has any better ideas, please post them. I can see myself spending more time in the VR world if the technology can handle it.
RobertWilkens
I have an issue where a lot of apps with gear vr on note 5, generally anything other than prerecorded video, have horribly painful to listen to sound as if the sound chip was struggling to keep up with the apps. Am i the only one, is this a phone issue? Would it be worth wiping data partition on phone and reinstalling?
john2016nj
Can I use my T-Mobile unlimited 4g Internet for my VR ?? Trying to show my coworkers my headset at work and it won't let me with no wifi connection, please help.... John
JohnConnor
Is there a way to adjust the screen? I don't know if it is just me, but, the screen does not move to my head adjustment so well. For example, I can't lay back. I have to sit up to align what I am looking at. It's anybody else having this issue? And can I fix it?
JohnConnor
Is there a way to adjust the screen? I don't know if it is just me, but, the screen does not move to my head adjustment so well. For example, I can't lay back. I have to sit up to align what I am looking at. It's anybody else having this issue? And can I fix it? I am using note 5.