Virtual Reality

Samsung Gear VR (2017) vs. Sony PlayStation VR

Samsung Gear VR (2017) vs. Son...
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the 2017 Samsung Gear VR (left) and Sony PlayStation VR
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the 2017 Samsung Gear VR (left) and Sony PlayStation VR
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Host device starting price
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Host device starting price
Headset price
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Headset price
Dimensions
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Dimensions
Display resolution
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Display resolution
Display type
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Display type
Focus adjustment
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Focus adjustment
Field of view
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Field of view
Gamepad support
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Gamepad support
Glasses support
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Glasses support
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the 2017 Samsung Gear VR (left) and Sony PlayStation VR
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New Atlas compares the features and specs of the 2017 Samsung Gear VR (left) and Sony PlayStation VR
Interpupillary Distance
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Interpupillary Distance
Lens adjustment (forwards-backwards)
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Lens adjustment (forwards-backwards)
Motion controllers
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Motion controllers
Positional tracking
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Positional tracking
Price (headset)
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Price (headset)
Release
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Release
Remote wand
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Remote wand
Software
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Software
Trackpad
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Trackpad
Weight
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Weight
Wireless
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Wireless
Build
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Build
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If you want a virtual reality setup, but aren't willing to pay top dollar for a PC-based system, then you're left with either mobile or console-based VR. Let's compare the features and specs of two of the most popular options, the 2017 Samsung Gear VR and Sony PlayStation VR.

Size

Dimensions
Dimensions

Take these dimensions with a few grains of salt, since the two headsets have very different designs. But PSVR is clearly the bigger headset.

Weight

Weight
Weight

PSVR is also heavier, but there are also a few things to keep in mind here:

First, the Gear VR's weight doesn't include the requisite smartphone inside. Once you slide one in, its total weight will range from 477 g (Galaxy S6) to 518 g (Galaxy S8+).

While PSVR looks heavy on paper, it's very comfortable to wear. The visor part hangs down from above, so it doesn't feel like your head is bearing its weight.

Build

Build
Build

Both are primarily made of plastic.

Host device

Headset price
Headset price

You'll need a Samsung Galaxy flagship (2015 or later) to slide inside of the Gear VR.

PlayStation VR requires a PS4 or PS4 Pro console. (The latter will give the headset's games slightly upgraded performance.)

Wireless

Wireless
Wireless

Being smartphone-based gives the Gear VR the advantage of being wireless.

Positional tracking

Positional tracking
Positional tracking

On the other hand, mobile VR still doesn't have any positional tracking – so when you lean, stand or move while wearing the Gear VR, the entire world will lean, stand or move with you (an unnatural sensation).

While PSVR does have positional tracking, it earned that asterisk: We found its controller tracking to be unacceptably poor (keep reading).

Motion controllers

Motion controllers
Motion controllers

While the Gear VR is now shipping with a controller (read on), it still doesn't support real motion controls that approximate hands inside VR worlds.

Sony's PS Move controllers sound great on paper, but we think VR's core illusion needs to hit a pretty high bar to successfully trick your mind. In our experience, that illusion was too often broken with PS Move. Expect jittery, juddering, occasionally floating hands in games that use these controls, which were remnants of the Wii era.

Remote

Remote wand
Remote wand

The "motion controller" that's bundled with the new Gear VR is less an alternative to the likes of Oculus Touch and the Vive controls, and more like a Wii remote for VR: It's primarily a pointy/clicky wand.

Gamepad support

Gamepad support
Gamepad support

Both support classic gamepads – which, in the case of PSVR, means the DualShock 4 that comes with the PS4.

Trackpad

Trackpad
Trackpad

The Gear VR has a trackpad built onto the right side of the headset, though it could have just as well been phased out with the addition of the controller.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

While Sony's RGB display handles pixels a little differently (despite those lower numbers, it looks very good), the Gear VR has the higher resolution.

Technically the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are capable of 1,480 x 1,440 per eye resolution in the Gear VR, but we don't yet know whether its lenses will cover their entire (more oblong) displays or stick with the 1,440 x 1,280 per eye you'll get from every other Gear VR-friendly phone. Either way, it's very sharp with visuals that are limited more by mobile processing power than screen quality.

Field of view

Field of view
Field of view

Fields of view are more or less identical. Neither is quite as wide as the 110° you'll find in the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Display type

Display type
Display type

OLED displays are the norm for VR.

Glasses

Glasses support
Glasses support

You can wear glasses underneath either headset. PSVR is the best VR headset for glasses wearers, as you can slide the entire visor forwards and backwards without hugging against your face.

Focus adjustment

Focus adjustment
Focus adjustment

On the other hand, specs wearers can ditch their glasses and use the Gear VR bare-faced. That's because it has a little wheel on top that lets you adjust your focus: The experience is similar to a machine you'd use to get your eyes checked in an optometrist's office.

Lens adjustment (forwards)

Lens adjustment (forwards-backwards)
Lens adjustment (forwards-backwards)

As we mentioned, you can slide PSVR's lenses forwards and backwards to make room for glasses or optimize the field of view.

IPD adjustment

Interpupillary Distance
Interpupillary Distance

Interpupillary distance (IPD) measures how far apart your eyes are, and PSVR can tweak this via software, rather than hardware. (The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both adjust IPD physically.)

Software

Software
Software

Of course the phone inside the Gear VR runs Android, but the VR experience comes courtesy of Oculus (Samsung's partner on the Gear VR series). As the pioneering company in virtual reality, Oculus' developer partners have been stacking the Oculus Store with loads of mobile VR content since late 2014.

Sony's game selection isn't exactly jam-packed at the moment, but it will grow over time.

Release

Release
Release

PSVR released last October, while the updated Gear VR launches on April 21.

Price (headset)

Price (headset)
Price (headset)

The new Gear VR, which now includes that little remote wand, rings up for US$130. PSVR rings up for a heftier – but still tame compared to PC-based rivals – $399.

You still, however, need a PlayStation 4 Camera to use with PSVR, and unless you want a gamepad-only experience, you'll need to pick up a pair of PS Move controllers.

And remember, to say we were disappointed with PlayStation Move's choppy tracking would be an understatement – to the point that we aren't sure whether it's better than not having motion controllers at all.

Starting price (host device)

Host device starting price
Host device starting price

Of course the headset and controllers are still only part of your purchase. If you don't already own a PS4 (regular or Pro), you'll need one to play PSVR. And you'll need one of eight Samsung flagship smartphones to power the Gear VR: Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note 5, S6 edge+, S6 or S6 edge. (We pulled the $250-ish price as the cheapest full retail price we could find for the two-year-old Galaxy S6.)

For more on each device, you can check out New Atlas' hands-on with the latest Gear VR and our review of PlayStation VR.

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5 comments
fb36
Are any VR or HMD devices of any brand is good for e-book or PDF book/magazine reading?
fb36
Also any of them are good for browsing internet and emailing etc.?
fb36
And of course are they any good for watching 2d/3d movies, streaming TV shows?
Torreth1
Very good article. Still I wish there was a comparison about the quality of the images you are getting with both. I heard the experience is extremely different when it comes down to what visuals you are presented with being that the phones processor isnt a dedicated video card like the psvr is, and so it cant give you the same amount of VR quality . Its being reported that the difference is night and day.
K.L.Bruton
@fb36: GearVR has an internet browser app in the Oculus Store. You can play 3D movies using Netflix, or sideloaded from an sd card. Having missed out on the 3D HDTV fad, I can say it is rather satisfying, but not as communal as viewing on a TV set. TV shows are also possible to watch as Hulu is another store-aquirable app. Those are things I can personally confirm. The book reading on GearVR, on the other hand, is something I have not yet attempted.