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Samsung Ties Virtual-Reality Option Into Galaxy Note 4

Samsung’s Gear VR uses the just-announced Galaxy Note 4 and software from Oculus VR to power its headset.
Posted at 2:15 PM, Sep 03, 2014

Samsung showed off its Gear VR headset Wednesday at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

It’s a set of goggles, into which one plugs the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 handset. (Video via PC Magazine)

Sensors in the headset track the motion of a user’s head, and the phone displays stereo images to the headset’s lenses. Samsung says it’s using software developed with the help of Oculus VR. (Video via Mashable)

A writer for the Wall Street Journal who demoed the headset says it’s very immersive — thanks in part to the high-resolution screen of the Note 4.

“Taking advantage of the high pixel density on the Note 4, it looked like I was standing about two feet in front of a large-screen HDTV.”

“I’m flying a spaceship around and blasting asteroids and other spaceships. It uses full head tracking. Fully immersive. It’s very similar to the Oculus Rift experience.” (Video via The Verge)

That was a common refrain among bloggers who went eyes-on with Gear VR, and probably an expected one. In the nascent VR industry, comparison to the Oculus Rift is pretty much inevitable. (Video via Oculus VR)

And while Engadget says the Rift still does some things better — like fine tracking for more believable immersion — Samsung’s mobile-first first step could pan out.

“While there are major technological limitations with mobile VR -- horsepower, among many other issues -- Samsung's Note 4 is a shockingly capable device for virtual reality experiences.”

But TechCrunch suggests it remains to be seen whether Gear VR has a real niche application. Samsung’s industry partners will offer music videos, concerts and movie trailers in VR-vision, but it doesn’t yet appear to have the same potential for, say, gaming as the Oculus Rift.

“Why is Samsung releasing a VR headset now? That’s anyone’s guess. I suppose the only answer is that it can.”

Samsung has yet to announce pricing for Gear VR. Availability, too, is still up in the air — but probably closely tied to that of the Note 4.