As expected Samsung just unveiled Gear VR. The company’s first virtual reality headset was developed with direct help from Oculus and it works pretty well. We got a chance to go hands on with the Gear VR, and we have to say we walked away fairly impressed.
The design for Gear VR is definitely a bit dorky, but to be honest you (hopefully) won’t be wearing the new headset out in public. It’s a pretty simple setup and once you put it on and pull the strap back over your head it feels totally natural and secure. As rumored the device works using your smartphone display, and this one only works with the Galaxy Note 4. Once you snap the phone in and slap the plastic visor on top of that you’re ready to go.
Samsung’s currently demoing a handful of virtual reality experiences, including immersive videos that take you around the world or under the ocean. The company also showed off a few games, including one arcade-style spaceship shooter and another where you can explore Iron Man’s secret lab. Everything looked great and worked pretty seamlessly, though at one point while I was piloting a spaceship and furiously shooting at incoming comets the screen suddenly froze before rebooting entirely. I also had some trouble using the built-in touchpad, though Samsung says these software issues should be taken care of before Gear VR hits the market.
Moving forward Samsung is hoping more developers will create new apps and experiences for Gear VR, and the company is offering an SDK through Oculus to make it as easy as possible to do just that. The new headset also makes use of the Note 4’s rear camera. For now that just means you’ll be able to get a look at what’s happening in the real world without leaving your virtual one, but in the future it could help pave the way for augmented reality gaming.
The Gear VR won’t hit the market until later this fall, and for the moment Samsung is planning on selling the device directly through its own website. There’s also a special gamepad which the company says could come bundled with the new headset. It’s still too early to tell whether the Gear VR will be a hit or a flop or what it might mean for the larger VR market, but for now we’re pleasantly surprised by what Samsung has to offer.