Remember when we got some eyes-on time with Samsung's Oculus-powered VR headset earlier this year? Well, the Gear VR is now on sale in the US, though the company is making it clear that this is a product aimed at early adopters and developers, and not yet ready for mainstream consumption.
If you missed it the first time around, the Gear VR is the fruit of a collaboration between Samsung and Oculus. Instead of using a tethered PC or console for the visor's brains, though, it uses a Galaxy Note 4. That means the Note's Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) display is split between the headset's two lenses.
The headset has a 96-degree field of view from any given position, though of course the fun lies in rotating your head to explore full 360-degree environments. In our hands-on, we found the experience to be nearly identical to that of using an Oculus VR developer kit.
Our other big observation from September was how underwhelming the demo content was (at the time, we only saw a non-interactive Coldplay concert). When you consider the challenge of creating content for not just a new platform, but an entirely new medium ... well, you can see why Samsung is downplaying the Gear VR as a commercial product (in fact, it's called the "Gear VR Innovator Edition"). The content condundrum may also be why the company is handing the content-downloading reins over to the Oculus VR app store.
At launch, Samsung says early adopters can choose from a dungeon adventure game called HeroBound, a multiplayer space shooter called Anshar Wars, and demos like an undersea exploration and a Cirque du Soleil show, among others.
The Gear VR Innovator Edition is available now from Samsung's and AT&T's websites. It costs US$200, in addition to the Galaxy Note 4 required to power it (it typically runs $300 on-contract, $700 full retail). No other smartphones are listed as being compatible.
For more, you can revisit our eyes-on with the Gear VR from back in September.
Product page: Samsung