Virtual Reality

Tips & tricks for the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition (Note 4, 2014)

Tips & tricks for the Samsung ...
If you've thrown down US$200 for the Samsung Gear VR headset, we have some tips and tricks to help get the most out of your virtual reality (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
If you've thrown down US$200 for the Samsung Gear VR headset, we have some tips and tricks to help get the most out of your virtual reality (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
View 11 Images
Fogging (simulated in this image) can put a damper on your VR experience, but Clarity Defog It wipes can eliminate the problem
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Fogging (simulated in this image) can put a damper on your VR experience, but Clarity Defog It wipes can eliminate the problem
This one may be obvious, but your VR is going to be more immersive if you wear headphones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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This one may be obvious, but your VR is going to be more immersive if you wear headphones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Power Saving mode can do wonders for preventing your Note 4 from overheating (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Power Saving mode can do wonders for preventing your Note 4 from overheating (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
A gamepad, like this Moga Hero Power, is essential for playing the Gear VR's best games (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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A gamepad, like this Moga Hero Power, is essential for playing the Gear VR's best games (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
If you've thrown down US$200 for the Samsung Gear VR headset, we have some tips and tricks to help get the most out of your virtual reality (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
5/11
If you've thrown down US$200 for the Samsung Gear VR headset, we have some tips and tricks to help get the most out of your virtual reality (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Swiveling chairs are practically essential for several of Oculus' 360-degree games (Photo: robert_s/Shutterstock.com)
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Swiveling chairs are practically essential for several of Oculus' 360-degree games (Photo: robert_s/Shutterstock.com)
Dreadhalls is realistic, terrifying ... and also the most likely to cause motion sickness
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Dreadhalls is realistic, terrifying ... and also the most likely to cause motion sickness
Viral Lite is a fun physics-based shooter, but only a demo
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Viral Lite is a fun physics-based shooter, but only a demo
Oculus' settings menu lets you toggle a comfort mode, which casts a warmer hue over the screen
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Oculus' settings menu lets you toggle a comfort mode, which casts a warmer hue over the screen
Giving your lenses a good cleaning is the first step in starting any VR session (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Giving your lenses a good cleaning is the first step in starting any VR session (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Aiming a quality fan at your head does wonders for cooling (Image: Dabarti CGI/Shutterstock)
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Aiming a quality fan at your head does wonders for cooling (Image: Dabarti CGI/Shutterstock)
View gallery - 11 images

The first consumer version of the Oculus Rift isn't quite here yet, but Galaxy Note 4 owners can already get an Oculus-powered experience on Samsung's Gear VR. If you're among the early adopters rocking Samsung's virtual reality headset, read on for Gizmag's tips and tricks.

Update: This article only refers to the Innovator Edition dev kit that shipped in late 2014. For the most updated version, you can check out our new tips for the consumer Gear VR.

Avoid lens fog

Fogging (simulated in this image) can put a damper on your VR experience, but Clarity Defog It wipes can eliminate the problem
Fogging (simulated in this image) can put a damper on your VR experience, but Clarity Defog It wipes can eliminate the problem

Lens fogging is an issue on every VR headset, whether it's Oculus, Google Cardboard or the Gear VR. You can always remove the headset and give it a quick wipe with a microfiber cloth, but that only fixes the problem for a few seconds (and it doesn't exactly help with the virtual reality illusion).

The best lens fogging fix we've found came from Oculus CTO (and gaming legend) John Carmack: a product called Clarity Defog It wipes. Since we started using them, our Gear VR has been completely fog-free. Just wipe the eye-facing sides of both lenses before you put the headset on, and you'll have a clear window into your virtual world.

It's possible there are other products that will meet the same end, but we'd recommend steering clear of anti-fog sprays and wipes designed for car windshields: they use chemicals that were never meant to sit within a few millimeters of the human eye.

Keep overheating at bay

Aiming a quality fan at your head does wonders for cooling (Image: Dabarti CGI/Shutterstock)
Aiming a quality fan at your head does wonders for cooling (Image: Dabarti CGI/Shutterstock)

If you use the Gear VR without a cooling system in place, you might not get through 20 minutes of a game like HeroBound without receiving a message telling you that the phone needs to cool down (there are two Gear VR overheating messages: one that tells you performance needs to slow down, and another that forces you to stop playing altogether). We have one overheating tip that will let you play even the most demanding games for as long as your Note's battery will allow.

Hopefully we'll see future versions of the Gear VR (i.e., future Samsung phones) that have better cooling systems in place for virtual reality, but in the meantime you'll want to treat your headset like it's a custom-built PC, and use a fan. Aiming a quality fan directly at your head while you're playing – with the Gear VR's cover and Note 4's battery cover removed – is the only consistent overheating fix we've found. Your phone's internals will be exposed, but, even with plenty of head movement, we haven't had any problems with the battery falling out.

The fan approach will let you play for hours at a time, leaving your phone's battery life as the only consideration for long VR sessions.

Keep it clean

Giving your lenses a good cleaning is the first step in starting any VR session (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Giving your lenses a good cleaning is the first step in starting any VR session (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

On the Oculus Rift, you only have to worry about keeping the eye-facing sides of the lenses clean. But on the Gear VR, you also have forward-facing sides of the lenses, as well as the Galaxy Note's screen, to contend with.

Before starting a Gear VR session, we take a minute or two to thoroughly clean both sides of the lenses and the Note's screen. Moist wipes designed for lens and screen care (like those from Zeiss) do the trick, and we also like to keep a dry microfiber cloth handy for touchups. And if you have a compressed air canister lying around, that works even better for blowing dust particles off your lenses.

Get an Android-friendly Bluetooth controller

A gamepad, like this Moga Hero Power, is essential for playing the Gear VR's best games (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
A gamepad, like this Moga Hero Power, is essential for playing the Gear VR's best games (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Videos and some games let you get by using the Gear VR's touchpad, but for the best experience you'll want to invest in a gamepad. Samsung sells one for US$80, but we haven't had any compatibility problems with a $60 Moga Hero Power controller (just be sure to set it in "B" mode when pairing with your phone).

Play in a swivel chair

Swiveling chairs are practically essential for several of Oculus' 360-degree games (Photo: robert_s/Shutterstock.com)
Swiveling chairs are practically essential for several of Oculus' 360-degree games (Photo: robert_s/Shutterstock.com)

Games like HeroBound face (mostly) in one direction, and can easily be played on a couch or recliner. But for titles like Dreadhalls and Anshar Wars, where the action happens on all sides, you'll have a more immersive experience in a rotating swivel chair. Any typical office chair or rotating stool will do the trick.

Just make sure no pets – or other innocent bystanders – get caught in your spinning ring of fire.

Pay attention to comfort ratings

Dreadhalls is realistic, terrifying ... and also the most likely to cause motion sickness
Dreadhalls is realistic, terrifying ... and also the most likely to cause motion sickness

The Oculus app rates each app based on its comfort level. For example, HeroBound is "comfortable for most," while Dreadhalls is "comfortable for few." The difference can be profound, as the latter is impossible for us to play without feeling queasy.

This rating can be found under each app's listing in the Oculus store.

Experiment with Comfort Mode

Oculus' settings menu lets you toggle a comfort mode, which casts a warmer hue over the screen
Oculus' settings menu lets you toggle a comfort mode, which casts a warmer hue over the screen

If you find that lengthy VR sessions bother your eyes, you can try Oculus' Comfort Mode. It casts a slightly blue hue over the screen to make the screen's lighting a bit easier on the eyes.

Comfort Mode is found on the far right of Oculus' settings screen, which you can access from anywhere by holding down the Gear VR's back button for a few seconds.

Wear headphones

This one may be obvious, but your VR is going to be more immersive if you wear headphones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
This one may be obvious, but your VR is going to be more immersive if you wear headphones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

This may be a no-brainer, but you'll have a much more immersive experience if you plug in some headphones or earbuds instead of using the Note's speaker. This has the added bonus of not broadcasting your game's audio to everyone within earshot.

Know the demos from the full games

Viral Lite is a fun physics-based shooter, but only a demo
Viral Lite is a fun physics-based shooter, but only a demo

There are a few full-length games among the Gear's launch lineup, but many of the available games (like Viral Lite, above) are short demos. You can hit up our roundup of the Gear VR's launch lineup for more detail on this.

If you haven't yet bought Samsung's virtual reality headset, but are thinking about it, you can check out Gizmag's full Gear VR review to help make up your mind.

View gallery - 11 images
3 comments
SantiagoDraco
I found another product that works really well for anti-fog and is a LOT less than those wipes (5 bucks). Believe it or not it's called "Cat Krap" and it comes in a small round container that easily fits in the Gear VR case with all the rest of the goodies. It's a wax like compound. It should last for hundreds of applications as well.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002BHWZFI/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
coastiedude4
Hi, i purchased the moga pocket controller as i thought i could use it as a controller for my samsung vr headset.
Is it compatible with the samsung vr or should i have purchased the moga hero controller ??
I appreciate your help.. Thanks, Josh
WilsonKeithBradley
In the screenshot above "Experiment with Comfort Mode" It looks like a different rev. of Home screen. Where could I get the update (Github?) or is there a beta group to join? (I searched)
Running on Note 4, VR Gear TEKXODUS Rom