Monday, March 21, 2016

Fun with my new Samsung GEAR VR!

Just over a week ago I got a new Samsung Galaxy S7 mobile phone with a free GEAR VR headset. I am totally blown away by the GEAR, having used it now for about a week. It was amazing the first time I used it, but now it's even more amazing as it's done a couple of updates which now allow me to watch not only Netflix, but also YouTube videos and Facebook videos (was able to do a search in Youtube, find my channel and watch all my videos (albeit on a smaller screen than the Oculus Theatre or Netflix screens. From last Sunday you can see videos your Friends have posted on Facebook, as well as a range of 360 degree videos of varying qualty (I recommend Dreams of Dali which is amazing!) I've posted a video of it below, but trust me when I say the experience of actually being inside the video with the towers towering over you for 100ft and then sailing inside and up through them is a totally awesome experience - I can't even begin to describe what it's like!
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is impressive, I upgraded from an S5, just to get the free GEAR available if you pre-ordered. One little bugbear is the new S7 only takes a Nano SIM card, (as does the S6), whereas the S5 has a micro card so I couldn't get my existing SIM card to fit and had to order a Nano card from my phone service provider T-Mobile which cost £10.20 and delayed my using the phone for several days. I also decided to upgrade from a 32GB micro SD card to 128GB, thinking I would be able to use this with the GEAR. Unfortunately after several failed attempts to use some 3D video files I'd downloaded from Youtube I contacted the customer service dept at Oculus and received the bad news that at the moment you just can't do it, although they were working on it and it would be enabled in the future. Bummer! I have resorted to storing all the 3D videos I download from YouTube on the card and just transferring them to the relevant folders on the phone when I need to watch them in the GEAR, Sadly I found that the phone's own storage fills up pretty quickly when it comes to 3D files!

So having sorted out my storage the next thing was choosing a bluetooth controller and I went for the SteelSeries Stratus XL, having done a lot of research on line this came out miles ahead of the competition and although the most expensive one I figured I'd rather pay the extra and get something that would work properly with the GEAR and be reliable from the off. Haven't had a chance to use it much apart from a quck blast of a game called Land's End, but I was having to stand up to play it and kept banging in to the coffee table. Will have to go upstairs later and use the spinning office chair I have in my dressing room to get the proper 360 degree experience!

For anyone wondering what I use to download and convert YouTube videos to MP4 files ready to play on the Galaxy S7 & GEAR VR it's called Video Downloader Ultimate and is a doddle to use. the only fly in the ointment is using the free version you have to wait 20 seconds before each download. For converting either my own 2D videos or videos I've downloaded from Youtube to 3D I use Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate. Again there is a restriction if using the free version, you can only convert and save the first three minutes of your files, which is fine if your own videos are that short or less. BTW you need to convert the videos into a Side by Side format to play in 3D. I think if you download Top to Bottom format videos from Youtube you can convert to SBS with this prog, although I haven't yet tried this.