Ever since its unveiling several years ago, the Oculus Rift has been the device to watch in the VR space. The headset blew us away back at E3 2013 and has been building a healthy contingent of supporters ever since. Even Facebook has jumped onboard the Oculus train, purchasing the company outright for $2 billion.
However, most expected that the Oculus Rift was only the beginning for VR, and soon we would see new copy cat and spin-off devices entering the market. For example, word broke in May that Samsung might be working with Oculus on a VR headset that uses people’s phones as a screen.
While this Samsung/Oculus collaboration was never going to rival the Rift, it did sound like this would be gamers’ first genuine taste of VR technology. Rather than focusing on refining the tech like Oculus is doing with Rift, Samsung seemed to be in a hurry to get their device on the market first.
To that point, we bring readers their first look at the Samsung Gear VR, the aforementioned collaboration between the mobile giant and Oculus VR. The Gear VR was unveiled at a press conference in Berlin and is currently targeting a late 2014 release date at an unannounced price.
As expected, the Samsung Gear VR is a self-contained device that uses a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as its VR Super AMOLEDscreen and battery source. That means users can have access to any number of VR experiences on the go, without having to tether to a computer.
Demos of the Galaxy VR thus far have focused on the device’s utility for VR video viewing and small scale gaming experiences. Samsung hopes to have a Bluetooth-enabled controller available for more advanced gaming, but there wasn’t one available at this early juncture.
That being said, those who have previewed the Galaxy VR came away impressed by what Samsung and Oculus have put together. By all accounts, it sounds like the Samsung Galaxy VR offers a comparable experience to the Oculus Rift, albeit for a (presumably) cheaper price point and with far fewer bells and whistles. And of course, the Galaxy VR can only run experiences developed specifically for mobile.
In fact, it sounds like the Galaxy VR headset is only built to work with the Galaxy Note 4 at this juncture, meaning the device’s niche is carved even deeper. When this Oculus and Samsung partnership was first announced most figured the headset would accommodate all future lines of Samsung smartphones, but they may not be the case.
However, it could be that Samsung wants to test the market with this first Note 4-compatible model before expanding. If they see the demand is high enough, then perhaps other models that support different smartphones will start to roll out.
What do you think of the Galaxy VR headset? Is it something you would be interested in?
Samsung Gear VR should release before the end of 2014.