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The next best thing from Samsung: Cool accessories.

by Faisal Mohammed Naim faisal@timesofoman.com Beyond the smartphones: trendy accessories

At the recent launch of the Samsung's latest flagship smartphone: the Galaxy S7 (Flat and Edge), there were some cool doodads as well, catching the eyeballs, other than the flashy phones. As the phone wars intensify, it is no longer limited to just "What's in the smartphone?" What's with the smartphone equally matters too: The accessories.

With the S7, Samsung came up with many; from a whole array of exciting cases (as many as eight different variants) offering not just a different look, but functionalities as well ranging from keyboard cover, to lens cover, to leather, wallet, and LED covers -- to interchangeable lenses, smartphone backpack, and wireless charging dock.

However, what really caught our fancy is the Gear VR, Samsung's first virtual reality headset for everyday consumers; the really stylish Level U wireless earphones, and last but not the least, the really slim and yet powerful 5200mAh battery pack.

The Gear VR delivers amazing visual experience with 360-degree movie watching and playing super immersive games. Being able to actually look around for things not in the scene feels a lot more interactive than just scrolling with a joystick on a normal screen.

It's comfortable to wear for hours at a time, even if you wear glasses, and the controls are intuitive and easy to understand. Although the video quality is not as good as the current rivals; the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and the Sony PS VR, and the controls are also not as powerful as the rest. But then the Gear VR is priced under OMR50, while the other three are well above OMR100. The idea is to give the consumers a good introduction to the world of virtual reality, and it succeeds hugely at that.

Another advantage the Gear VR has over its rivals is mobility. While the rival three need to be tethered to their source, limiting the movement while in use, the Gear VR is completely cord free, allowing the user to go anywhere, anytime (although I seriously doubt if this feature is at all of any help. With the VR on your eyes, you are seeing another world, while your body is in another, making you blind for any movement.) The Gear VR is only compatible with the S6, S7 series, and Note 5.

The Level U Bluetooth headphones are another cool accessory from Samsung that we came to really like. Connecting wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet, the chic earphones are a delight for the ears.

Delivering clear high quality sound (specially the bass) with large 12mm speaker units, the earphones are top choice for music on the move. Designed for long term wear, the headphones feature a flexible urethane joint to wear around the neck and stabilising wing ear gels for in-ear comfort. Dual-microphone noise reduction and echo cancellation reduce outside sound interference and feedback during calls.

The control buttons are also very well placed. A voice prompt also informs about the active/inactive and pairing status. Battery life is pretty good with 10 hours of music playback. A very nice feature is that the back of the neckband vibrates to alert you of incoming calls.

The slim design 5200mAh Battery Pack is remarkably lightweight at less than 145g, and ultra-thin at just 9.8mm.

Sleek and slim, carrying this battery pack is fuss-free. While most of the other battery packs are a menace with their rather bulgy dimensions, the Samsung battery pack is perfectly portable in every situation, easily slidable into your pants' pocket. With the same sophisticated metal looks and dimensions as that of the Galaxy S6, it is just like carrying another smartphone in your pocket.

The big 5200mAh capacity provides you with more power on the go, and the battery pack also features 'Fast Charge', meaning it charges the devices and gets charged real fast. What's more with the earphones and battery pack is that they are universal, and can work with non-Samsung devices as well.

Although I might feel compelled to say that Samsung is inspired by the competition more often rather than coming up with something actually new on its own. If the Gear VR appears to be the middle path between Google Cardboard an Oculus Rift, the earphones are quite similar to LG Tone headphones, and the LED case very much seems directly taken from HTC.

What Samsung has really done is gather all the goods from around and present one happy package to the smarty buffs. Nice job.

Available at: SARCO, Extra, Emax, and other leaing electronic stores

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Apr 17, 2016
Words:780
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