Following a number of rumours that today might finally be the day that Samsung launches the Gear VR smartphone-based virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD), the company has effectively confirmed it. The Gear VR can now be ordered from Samsung’s official online store at a price of $199.99 USD. This applies to the USA only at this point in time, with now word on launch dates in other countries just yet. No information on expected delivery times is available on the site right now. There’s also no sign of the $249.99 bundle that features a Bluetooth controller.
To use Gear VR owners must fit a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone into its case. The phone’s screen is pushed up against a pair of lenses, with side-by-side content appearing as a 3D image when viewed through the HMD. The kit features its own sensors for head-tracking technology as well as a touch pad on the side of the device for navigation and some in-game control. The phone’s Super AMOLED display is 5.7 inches in size and runs at a Quad HD resolution of 1440 x 2560, besting the 1080p OLED panel found in the Oculus Rift PC HMD’s second development kit (DK2).
Gear VR has been created in partnership with Oculus VR, which insists that, despite this release to consumers, the device is still very much a development kit. As such, Gear VR launches with an ‘Innovator’s Edition’ branding, making it clear that it is intended for developers and early adopters. A side effect of this is that the device launches with a free store containing demos, short experiences, and a small number of entirely free videogames. A full, premium store launch is expected later down the line.
All that said, this still marks one of the first consumer launches for a VR HMD. Hopefully 2015 will bring many more launches. VRFocus will continue to follow Gear VR, reporting back with any further updates on the device.