BEIJING: The virtual reality craze begins today. Samsung is now selling its Gear VR headset in the U.S. at the expected $199 price tag, though it is only compatible with the Galaxy Note 4. The Gear VR was built in partnership with Oculus, which has sold over 100,000 of its own Rift VR headset prototypes and describes its relationship with Samsung as symbiotic.
The Gear VR is a mobile virtual reality unit — it uses a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as its screen, which isn’t included in the headset’s price. It advertises a full 360-degree virtual reality experience and is powered by software from Oculus VR, the virtual reality company behind the Oculus Rift. Oculus and Samsung’s virtual reality efforts have long been intertwined, with Oculus using Samsung panels for its own VR headsets.
It’s important to note that the Gear VR Innovator Edition is aptly named: While anybody can go ahead and buy Samsung’s new headset, it’s aimed at early adopters more so than the general public. Still, initial reactions to the Gear VR have been positive, so if you’re itching for an affordable virtual reality fix (assuming you’ve already got the Note 4) it may be a good buy.
Samsung’s Gear VR is out today, putting virtual reality on the mass market in a way we haven’t seen since the Virtual Boy — although hopefully, this time, with more staying power. The Gear VR fits around a Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, magnifying the Note’s screen to create the illusion of presence. Carefully marketed as an “Innovator Edition,” it’s technically a beta product with no final version announced.