Samsung is venturing boldly into the world of virtual reality, but not without one of its trusty smartphones strapped along for the ride. The company today introduced the Samsung Gear VR, a headset that plugs into the Galaxy Note 4 to create a virtual reality experience not unlike that of the Oculus Rift.
The Gear VR itself is filled with various sensors, while the processor and the battery of the Galaxy Note 4 handle all the heavy lifting. After removing the visor, users can plug in their Galaxy Note 4 into the device and the 2k display will take over.
Samsung is tapping Oculus to power the device, which uses Oculus’ VR store to give users access to content. The Gear VR will also be able to give users access to concerts, 360 degree tours of cities and locations, among other things.
Since the Gear VR splits the resolution of the Galaxy Note 4’s 518ppi display, the experience isn’t super HD. However, in the short time we had to try out the headset, it certainly offers an interesting virtual reality experience for those who are looking for a more lightweight option.
Oculus and Samsung worked diligently on this together, which gives Oculus further distribution in the market with the Oculus store and gives Samsung some credibility and established content hitting a brand new market for the first time.
At launch, the Gear VR will come with some special content including a tour of Tony Stark’s Lab (as a part of a partnership with Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron). IMAX is also offering trailers and samples of films to watch in a virtual theater, as well as 360-degree live-action 3D VR for perormances like Cirque Du Soleil and Zarkana.
Vevo is also offering access to more than 100,000 HD music videos, live concert events, etc.
Why is Samsung releasing a VR headset now? That’s anyone’s guess. I suppose the only answer is that it can. The phones are powerful enough to act as the guts for this thing and I could foresee a time when VR headsets are essentially dumb pieces of plastic that you slip your phone into to create a similar experience, with all the in-phone sensors doing all the work. Until then, you have his.
VR is an exciting option for big electronics companies, with Facebook buying Oculus, Google getting more deeply immersed in Glass, and now Samsung hopping in the boat. Time will tell how the category matures, but in the short term, you can look for the Gear VR in the fall. No pricing information has been released.