$199 is a lot to ask of people who want to just dip their toes into the VR experience.
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.
Samsung has announced a cheaper Gear VR that works with more phones – and you’ll be able to buy it in time for the 2015 holiday season. That was a developer-focused model, though, meant to show off exactly what the Gear VR could do.
Samsung and Oculus have partnered (once again) to develop a new Gear VR headset, which was officially announced today. In addition, the Gear VR’s touchpad has been improved, providing greater control while enjoying the robust selection of film, gaming, 360 degree video and experiential content available for Gear VR.
The Gear VR also comes without a central strap that goes over the head, which the older device had. The Gear VR includes a trackpad, back button and motion sensors to detect acceleration and gyroscopic position, but it still requires the brains and high-resolution screen of a smartphone to work.
Oculus Connect 2, the Virtual Reality conference, is coming.
The headset is ostensibly the same but is around 20% lighter than the outgoing model and what Samsung deems more comfortable to strap to your face.
Netflix has released its first app for virtual reality headsets. “With Oculus Video, we are leveraging the scale and flexibility of mobile, while continuing to deliver a powerful, emotional experience for consumers”. The Oculus phone headset – not the Oculus Rift – will also have its own Arcade app that features games from Sega, Midway, Bandai Namco and Warner Bros. Hulu was one of the few that indicated they would be releasing short-form virtual reality content.
Oculus chief technology officer John Carmack announced the app in the afternoon on a day when Netflix shares were slowly climbing.