For the first time in years, Samsung is trying to expand its mobile handset business by entering into virtual reality headset business.
Earlier in the year, Samsung announced a new virtual reality headset, dubbed as the Gear VR. Made in partnership with the team over at Oculus VR, the new headset uses a Galaxy Note 4 to power the virtual reality experience, and a Bluetooth controller to navigate.
For obvious reasons, the Samsung Gear VR looks like an Oculus Rift, but that's okay. The original Gear VR was unveiled at this year's IFA Berlin tech show, alongside the Galaxy Note 4. But now the VR headset is ready to hit consumer market in the US this December.
To be called as the "Gear Innovator Edition," you'll need to shell close to $200 on the Gear VR headset itself. Plus, to the use the headset, you're required to invest into the Galaxy Note 4, which will cost Rs. 58,000. That's pretty high - but, of course, cheaper than a branded gaming PC. Samsung is already taking pre-orders in the US, although the Gear VR headset is not available in India just yet.
Well, the tech media is already going gaga over the virtual reality headset market. A lot has been written and said about the future of virtual reality headsets. In fact, a number of major companies like Facebook, Sony, Carl Zeiss, and now Samsung are ready to start a new phase in virtual reality.
Last week, we got a rare chance to spend some time with the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition on the last day of Samsung Developers Conference in San Francisco. Here are our first impressions. Let's dive in.
Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition: Form Factor and Design
The Gear VR is itself futuristic when it comes to the design part. Samsung has worked closely with Facebook owned VR specialist Oculus in designing the device.
The Samsung Gear VR is slightly different from other virtual reality headsets. Unlike Oculus Rift or Sony Morpheus, the Gear VR doesn't come with any display - instead you'll require the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Basically, the Gear VR is meant to be used with a mobile device; in this case, you need to have the Galaxy Note 4.
The VR headset is entirely made out of plastic, but the white colored version seemed to impress us. That said, we've no issues with the design of Samsung Gear VR.
Inserting the Note 4 is damn simple. All you need to unclip the front side and a hinged docking port is visible. Once docked with the headset, the Note 4 automatically enters a Gear VR mode. Yes, it's so simple, as mentioned earlier.
After strapping the Note 4 to the front of the Gear VR, the device largely felt right. We were able to adjust straps, even while wearing it. The lenses can be automatically adjusted with a dial on the top. Moreover, there is a touchpad and back button on the right for navigating menus.
The Gear VR doesn't come with built-in speakers - instead it uses Note 4's speakers. At the same time, you can also plug-in either Bluetooth-enabled headset or some good quality headphones for superb experience.