When Samsung decided to join the virtual reality game, it was kind of a surprise for all. This being a way for the company to “follow suit” was out of the question. At the time, there were only a few major companies joining the likes of Oculus in the VR toss up, and whether Samsung was going to make its product official was kind of up in the air. Now that things are out of the “Innovator Edition”/ “Development Kit” phase, Samsung is ready to get serious with its Gear VR headset, with Oculus by its side, of course.
What we remember from Samsung’s first unveiling was a white, chunky headset, sporting a little trackpad on the side, that worked in conjunction with a Samsung smartphone. While in this developmental phase, the headset was running for 200 bucks, not something the curious enthusiast could justify spending just to “see” if it was worth it. But together, Samsung and Oculus have taken a big step, finally launching “the” model, sans any safety net phrase like “prototype” in front of it, completely accessible to the public. Oh, and cheap!
The Gear VR will cost just $99, and connect with a (much larger) lineup of Samsung mobile devices, including the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ using micro USB. Its new interface consists of a side trackpad on the temple (a lot easier to navigate than the original), back button and volume button. The Verge reports that the bulky white plastic has been replaced with softer feeling fabric, and the overall design is said to be more comfortable while maintaining solidity. It features a 96 degree field of view, <20ms motion to photon latency, focal adjustment for nearsightedness and farsightedness, an accelerator, gyrometer, geomagnetic sensor, and proximity sensor (Samsung). Finally, it comes with a 16GB microSD card for additional storage. The display is of course up to the Samsung model you choose to use it with, and each phone can fit into the new Gear VR thanks to sliding clamps Oculus installed on the consumer edition.
This low price and official launch makes Samsung the first to release a virtual reality headset widely available to consumers. Mobile VR, as it’s now being referred to, will be the first test of how willing we are to take on an additional device, and incorporate it into our everyday lives and worlds (Cnet). What better company than Samsung to be the one to do it. It is a trusted company, with more than enough resources to have waited for a perfected, finalized product to give us (we hope).
Experts from the mobile VR industry are predicting great optimism for Samsung’s VR, and with over 30 million units shipping per year (by 2020), it’s easy to picture these headsets being part of many Christmases and birthdays to come. Mark Zuckerberg sure thinks so. Remember the Facebook CEO purchasing Oculus back in 2014 for over 2 billion dollars? If there’s anything Zuckerberg can do, it’s convince the young public to invest time in his products.
Let’s be thankful to Samsung, for pushing mobile VR to the hands of many for the lowest price we’ve seen, and Oculus for making the design and technology so. We haven’t to been able to truly test whether humans will or will not enjoy playing around in virtual realities, but this could be the official experiment. Sure, there’s still a chance the entire concept is made to be “a fun thing you did once”. But I doubt it. Let us just wait and see what happens when something so awesome finally becomes part of our everyday lives. Samsung, shut up and take my money.
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