The battle for the hardcore VR market draws ever nearer with Oculus, HTC Vive and the now officially named PlayStation VR, but for the more causal VR enthusiast, Google Cardboard has been really the only sensible option to date and thankfully didn’t require more than a $20 investment.
Before you start yelling at me, yes, Samsung has had versions of the Gear VR available for over a year now, but these were all classified as “Innovator Editions” and had extremely limited device compatibility, typically just one device in fact. So while available, I wouldn’t characterize it as a viable option for most people.
Come November that all changes with the new Samsung Gear VR. No additional tag on that this time, this is the true consumer version, and it carries with it the more palatable price of just $99 rather than the $199 previous editions commanded.
Now Samsung hasn’t lost its senses completely: The Gear VR is only compatible with 2015 Samsung devices, namely the Galaxy S6, S6 edge+, S6 edge and Note 5.
Naturally, this version of Gear VR is still in cooperation with Oculus and features a few upgrades beyond the enhanced compatibility options. There is a new D-pad styled trackpad on the side of the unit, and it is 22 percent lighter than the last version which should make it much more comfortable for long term use.
And you are going to want to be more comfortable wearing it for a long time, as the Gear VR will now support Netflix, Hulu, and Twitch. Vimeo and Tivo are reportedly on board as well, but will not be there at launch. To be clear these are not all going to be true VR experiences, but will simulate a larger flat screen. Hulu was one of the few that indicated they would be releasing short-form virtual reality content.
Whether VR will actually take off remains to be seen, but it will not be for a lack of mainstream hardware offerings trying to make it happen.
Any 2015 Samsung smartphone owners going to pick up the Gear VR this November given the price drop and improved support?