rachel riley
Television presenter Rachel Riley tries the new Samsung Gear VR device at the IFA Electronics show in Berlin Reuters

The concept of a virtual-reality headset isn't a new one. I bought them for my Sims characters more than a decade ago and ever since most people understand what to expect, but until you try one for yourself it's impossible to fully understand how game-changing they are.

I have been using the Samsung Gear VR for a week and even though content is limited for now, there are no two ways about it - virtual reality is here and it will change our lives in ways we haven't even thought of it.

Everyone I gave the Gear VR to was impressed. Some swore profusely. One threw it back at me after looking down and seeing her virtual character's arms and legs. Some tried VR porn, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Before that, here is a list of what you can do with a Gear VR if you buy one (and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone you need to run it) today.

1. Watch film trailers like you're in an actual cinema - or on the moon

Oculus moon cinema
The Oculus Cinema app lets you watch film trailers while sat in front of a giant screen... on the moon Oculus

One of the simplest but most impressive experiences on Gear VR is being able to watch film trailers in a virtual cinema. Where footage taken from a camera hanging below a helicopter is jaw-dropping, sitting in a virtual cinema is deeply impressive simply for being so realistically familiar.

When viewed sat down, the cinema seems completely real. Everything is exactly where you expect it to be, the row behind is right there, the texture of the walls, floor, seats and ceiling is exactly how we all know it to be, and the distance to the screen feels spot-on. I spent more time looking around than I did watching the trailers.

2. Be a character in a film trailer

If watching a trailer in a virtual cinema isn't enough, then how about being one of the characters? That's what Insurgent: Shatter Reality does with an app that puts you in the Kate Winslet film. You can't interact at all, but the three-minute experience sees you appear at the top of a skyscraper, be attacked by flocks of angry birds, plummet down to ground level - a scene that genuinely made me feel as if I was moving - then be hit in the face by a speeding train.

It's intense, and a beautiful example of how virtual reality can totally submerge you into a new environment, completely overriding what is actually around you.

3. Fly

The beauty of virtual reality like this is how, in a split second, you are taken from the comfortable surroundings of a tiled menu to being flown through the countryside, suspended underneath a helicopter. The shift from something clearly artificial and digital to something so believably from the real world is shocking, and for one beautifully surreal, uncomfortable moment you look down and your brain panics, convinced you are really hanging from a fast-moving helicopter.

A moment later, of course, common sense takes over, but even then turning around or looking directly down summons a feeling difficult to put into words. Positive discomfort perhaps, but certainly unlike anything I've ever felt before. A low resolution means landscapes aren't particularly sharp as they fly by, but this is the first generation; when we hit Full HD and beyond, footage like this will be truly breathtaking.

4. Sit next to Paul McCartney's piano during a gig

Paul McCartney
Sit in with Paul McCartney at the piano, then get the best seat in the house in this Gear VR app Reuters

He only plays Live And Let Die, and there are only two camera angles, but this is a great example of how virtual reality can put you in places even the best VIP tickets in town cannot. The video begins with you sat next to McCartney's piano, facing out to the crowd, before switching to a view from the orchestra pit looking up at the stage, complete with pyrotechnics.

The Gear VR's 360-degree sound comes into its own here, with the music disappearing around the back of your head as you turn to face the audience. Gear VR also has a Coldplay gig, which you watch from a space just off the stage, but way ahead and above of the audience.

5. Watch porn

It was inevitable really, wasn't it? Google Glass flirted with porn, and now VR has gone all the way, so to speak, placing viewers right where every teenage boy has dreamed of. Yes, it's first person point-of-view, and yes you can move your head around to see everything you'd expect to see.

Porn helped to swing the video recording balance in favour of VHS, despite Betamax being the superior technology, with the ability to record in higher quality. It did the same for Blu-ray, hammering the final nail into HD-DVD's coffin - so while there are no two technologies competing for our virtual desire, the adult entertainment industry will undoubtedly be a catalyst for VR adoption and development.

6. Watch Cirque du Soleil from the stage

One Gear VR app takes you to a Cirque du Soleil rehearsal, where you sit on the stage and watch as characters from the production gather around you and tumble down from the ceiling on ropes.

The experience only lasts a couple of minutes, but acts as the perfect sneak peak of what is possible with virtual reality. No more paying hundreds of pounds for the best theatre seats - or paying less to sit right at the back - but instead a familiar and already impressive, real-life form of entertainment, made better, more immersive and brought into your living room.

7. Play 360-degree games

With help from the Oculus Rift, on which the Gear VR is based, and the HTC Vive with its Stream integration, VR gaming is about to become absolutely huge. Where currently the limit involves looking around and shooting at targets, the very near-future will see VR used for triple-A games like racing sim Project Cars, and much more. Andy Tudor, creative director of Project Cars told us how gamers using Oculus Rift, a headset similar to the Gear VR, were quicker around a track than those without it.

Virtual Reality has all the hallmarks of a truly game-changing technology - and we haven't even scratched the surface of how it can be used to view cars and property before they are built, to educate, and to help everyone from retailers to kitchen fitters get a sense of what they're working on before they begin.

The uses for VR are are unimaginably wide ranging, and with Gear VR costing £170 (plus the £600 Note 4), the technology is already much closer to being a mass-market success than many people realise.