Here’s a quick, non-technical review of the Samsung S7 Edge and Gear VR.

I was an early Samsung Galaxy S3 user – it was quite good. I upgraded to the S5 when that came out, and I really liked it. A couple of months ago, I upgraded to the S7 Edge and absolutely love it! Part of the deal (through Verizon) was a free Gear VR kit. I would not have bought this, and it really did not influence my decision to get the S7 Edge, but a freebie is hard to refuse, and I was interested in getting my hands on a Virtual Reality kit.

S7 Edge

I’m not going to write a detailed review—the web is full of them written by professional reviewers (and de-constructors such as iFixIt.) I’ll just say why I love it.

  1. Look and feel. I went with the gold finish, and with its total glass wrap front and back, this phone has the feel of fine jewelry. It’s a joy to look at and hold. Yes, the critics who regret the ease with which this phone attracts fingerprints and smudges have a point, it is unfortunate. The phone looks so good, you want it to be perfectly clean. (My S3 and S5 with their oleophobic coating stayed remarkably print and smudge free no matter what I did with it! There are oleophobic coating kits out there I might try.) Also, the phone looks and feels so good, you really don’t want to put a case or cover on it! (But you really have to in case of drops!)
  2. Performance. It is fast, loads of memory, expandable memory and massive battery life. Sound is good, both for phone functions and listening to media.
  3. Size. For me (my hands and desired viewing experience) the size is perfect.
  4. Features. I love the new fingerprint reader, heart rate sensor, camera, Samsung Pay, and near field charging. To be honest, other than the extra size and battery life of the Edge version, I don’t really get much use out of the Edge features. It’s so easy to navigate to any app or function, having the handy Edge sliding panel does not add much value. Perhaps I’m missing something I will discover later on, but for now, it adds nothing except the sexy shape and feel.
  5. Easy of use. I struggled some with Android on the S3. It seemed better sorted on the S5. On the S7 it seems more logical and intuitive. I’m sure some of this is learning curve, but some of it is just better design and usability.

Gear VR

This turned up yesterday via FedEx. Nicely packaged (not quite to Apple standards, but decent) but with a very ‘thin’ set of instructions. I feared the worst, having never tried VR or really knowing what it involved. About 15 minutes later, I was up and running, with a package of 6 games (free bonus) and various demo apps. The set up and access to the games and apps was intuitive and very simple.

I put on the goggles while in my office chair which can rotate by 360 degrees, so this seemed an ideal way to experience VR without bumping into the furniture or getting dizzy.

My initial reaction — wow! I was laughing out loud with the occasional shriek of joy or surprise. I rode in a battle tank, watched a rocket launch from all sorts of angles and experienced several of the demos. Really excellent. It took me less than 5 minutes to go through the tutorial, and I found the device very easy to use. The sound was great and the image quality, for the most part, was excellent. I also tried a couple of the games. Note of disclaimer, I’ve never been much into video games, but I got the hang of the possibilities.

All in all, a most enjoyable experience.

One Strange Issue

Some of the best content appeared when I was first setting up the Gear VR. When I tried to get back to that content to show my wife the magic of VR, I could not find it. After quite a bit of searching and online research, I was stumped, so I sent an email to Samsung support. I got a nice response within 24 hours telling me that the content was part of the set up routine and I could no longer access it unless I uninstall Gear VR and reinstall it! This is quite bizarre!

Now, I need to figure out how to leverage VR in my day job—management consulting and Business Relationship Management and training. All suggestions welcome! Unless I can figure that out, I suspect my Gear VR will spend most of its time in its box—a nice novelty, but with very little value to a non-gamer! I hope that compelling, useful content will materialize soon so that is not the case!