It’s a bout — a looser gets punched match between the Gear VR by South Korea’s tech giant Samsung and the Cardboard VR by Mountain View based Google inc. Now comes the reason for the fight; a question! And the question is simple; which is better between the two VR headsets?
A lot of VR enthusiasts might argue that the comparison is flawed, that the two VR headsets deserves not to be mentioned side by side in comparison
Well, they may be some elements of truth in that, but its just half truth! While Samsung’s Gear VR is unarguably a fantastic VR gadgets, far better than a lot in the market — there is sense is not just taking a one angle view of which is better. 2016 has so far been an interesting year for VR technology. The Consumer Electronic Show 2016 showcased a handful of Virtual reality gadgets and accessories. From new VR hardwares to the HTC Vive , all VR gadgets at the show had something unique to offer.
Participants trying out the gear vr headset at the Galaxy studio during CES 2016
There were three things that couldn’t long be hidden at the show — Drones, Cars and the Samsung Gear VR. The Samsung Galaxy Studio’s Gear VR Theater with 4D was so popular a spot that there was an exceptionally long line of eager attendees waiting to check it out. To put it succintly, on the first day of the show alone there were over 10,000 visitors to the galaxy studio with about 2000 trying out the gear VR headset. All the paticipants had something similar to say. Visibly exited, the all said (or at least thought) the Gear VR headset the have tried so far. The gear VR offers an unrivalled immersive entertainment so real that your brain is tricked to believe it is actually real.
Just like most VR headsets , the current “Innovator Edition” of the Samsung Gear VR isn’t exactly a consumer product, but it’s out there if you crave a great VR experience and have some extra bucks to pay to get into the action. However, the VR headset currently only support the Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. That’s rarely enough choice for prospective early adopters. And there’s this problem with the galaxy series processors — the headset keeps popping up annoying messages telling you to stop that the phone is too hot — what a mood killer. For the record the galaxy series processors work quite excellently with thr smartphones, just that it doesn’t have enough 3D juice to handle sustained continuous 3D processing by the Gear VR. With Samsung’s Gear VR glory and flaws, has Google’s Cardboard faired any better ?
The Cardboard VR is one of those headsets that makes you think what the hell the designers were thinking — at least until you try it out. Of all the materials to choose from, including plastic to aircraft grade aluminium, Google could only think of cardboard, like WTF? However, considering it was just a pet project until things got serious, I’ll cut it some slack. The cardboard is a product of the so-called “20 percent projects” — essentially things Google’s employees work on in their free time (which explains a lot about the choice of cardboard as building block). However, its seeming weaknesses is its very strength. The choice of cardboard as building material has ensured simplicity and reduced cost of the cardboard significantly. The piece of gadget cost about $20 only. Google has tweaked the gadget to support all Android devices as well as Apple’s iPhone, with APIs and an SDK that supports importing existing Unity3D projects and converting them into Android apps. Google believes in open source, the company has published the framework and blueprints for the headset for others to develop and improve on. There are several companies making their own versions of Cardboard, including some that fold up like glasses and don’t include the light blocking shield thought to increase immersion.
The Google cardboard is a perfect entry level VR gadget for any VR enthusiasts that may not have the cash or not just willing to spend heavily on a VR headset. Since both both the cardboard VR and Samsung VR are smartphone-centric VR headset— it’d make sense to have them support any if not most smartphone a user can get his hand on. Unfortunately, while Cardboard supports quite a lot, possibly in the hundreds or more, the Gear VR supports only 3 Samsung devices. Google’s platform is open and is vailable across multiple hardware partners, supporting a considerable number of apps and services across the web. Each app and service works independently, relying only on the hardware in your pocket to do things. The Gear VR is a closed ecosystem by comparison, requiring extra hardware for the edge in “immersion” it has over the cardboard and the added hardware in the accessory facilitates smoother VR experience. Also, there is the issue of porability; while the cardboard is collapsible and easily foldable, the Gear VR is sadly not so, coupled with a bulky casing to go with. The Cardboard VR is a more cost effective buy at just $20 while the Samsung gear VR offers more immersion at higher price of $200.
Nonetheless, the choice is yours ultimately. If you are the type that values portability and would like a VR gadget you can easily give out without thinking about the cost, Cardboard is clearly the way to go. If you are looking for the best possible VR experience your smartphone can cook up inside an electronic shelf and also have some $200 to trow around then the Gear VR is clearly what you’re looking for.