The Gear VR is back and slightly better than ever.
Samsung held its infamous Unpacked event earlier this morning at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC and it was one hell of a show. From the professional catering staff handing out horderves, to the spectacular lights and 3D projections during the presentation, it was pretty incredible.
Although the event was heavily focused on the new Galaxy Note S7 and upgrades to their S Pen, there was still plenty of news regarding virtual reality. The most important of course being the introduction of the new Gear VR.
Now before we go any further this is by absolutely no means a sequel to the Gear VR, so if you’re already calling it the Gear VR 2 i’d probably stop. This is more like the Gear VR 1.5. Or maybe the Gear VR S? The point is that a slew of new upgrades and changes have been made to the original design, but definitely not as much as we would like to have seen.
The most important feature of this newer model is by far its USB Type-C connection. This model ditches the micro USB in favor of a faster, more stable input. This choice was most likely the direct result of the upcoming Galaxy Note S7 which will feature said connector.
Current Samsung-owners can rest easy though as each headset will come with a micro USB converter in the box. Nice move, Samsung. This new connector also allows for the transfer of data, where as past iterations using the micro USB only slightly extended battery life. This is a game-changer as it opens up the possibilities for add-ons such as gamepads and dare I say maybe motion controls? This may also do wonders for connectivity and data transfer speed, possibly eliminating the need for the ever-spotty connectivity of bluetooth.
On top of that it features a new, more-responsive touchpad that’s been significantly flattened, more padding for an extra comfortable fit, a wider field-of-view (101-degrees compared to the original 96-degrees) and a new blue/black paint job that is reportedly a response to customers complaining that the mostly-white color of the current version can reflect light thereby killing immersion. All changes that while not ground-breaking in any sense, are necessary responses that needed to be addressed at some point.
All these changes are good, but are they good enough?
Like I said before, these changes and upgrades were all necessary. The Gear VR is undoubtedly at the top of the mobile VR food chain already, so these alterations are just icing on the metaphorical cake. The only problem is that with Google’s impressive VR platform DayDream right around the corner, are these changes enough to keep the Gear VR on top?
Google has already established itself well in the mobile VR market with their Google Cardboard initiative, but DayDream marks their first real attempt to dominate mobile VR. Rumors are already circulating about the massive power behind DayDream with Google themselves stating that current phones already on the market are not beefy enough to support its new system. The company has set a benchmark for phones looking to support the platform which includes a system on chip that must support 60fps performance among many other requirements. Combine that with its highly-responsive motion controller and you have one scary new kid on the block. As stated earlier however, the new Gear VR’s USB Type C could allow for more accessories such as its own answer to motion controls.
We’ll just have to wait and see if these changes are enough keep DayDream at bay. This new version of Gear VR will release simultaneously with the Galaxy Note S7 August 19th. Presales begin tomorrow if you’re looking to secure yours immediately. There will also be no change in price, so at $99 it’s basically a steal. Except, you know, you’re paying for it…