Another Galaxy means a new Gear VR. In addition to taking the wraps off the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ today (March 29), Samsung also announced the latest version of its Galaxy Gear VR headset. The new headset will be included in preorder bundles of the S8 and S8+. Otherwise, you'll have to shell out $129, which is a bit more expensive than previous versions. However, the revamped GearVR comes with a new controller, first previewed last month, that could potentially enhance your virtual reality experiences.
At first glance, it doesn't look like much has changed from last year's Gear VR model, but there are a few differences. For one, the headset's gone from a rich midnight blue to a blackish hue that Samsung is calling Orchid Gray. (That also happens to be one of the colors for the new S8 smartphones.) But the biggest difference by far is the addition of a separate VR controller which has some proprietary motion-sensing technology built into it.
Thanks to this new technology, you should have better interaction with your VR environment. When you reach out and grab something in VR, there should be some sort of haptic response. The controller, which is bundled with the new headset and also available separately for $39 if you've got an older Gear VR, looks bigger than the one that ships with the Oculus Rift and the Google Daydream View. Similar to the Rift's controller, Samsung's device has buttons for Back and Home. There's also a trackpad-like surface at the top that also functions as a button along with a volume rocker. Along the back, you'll find a handy trigger.
But what's hardware without a library of compelling software? To make sure Gear VR users have something to jab, poke and grab, Samsung is leveraging its partnership with Oculus to deliver exclusive content for the new peripheral. Samsung will also start livestreaming 360-degree content including LiveNation concerts and UFC fights starting this summer.
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And if you're looking to create your own VR-ready content, Samsung has unveiled the revamped Samsung Gear 360 camera. The new version has greater portability, with a more comfortable grip and the ability to capture video in 4K resolution.
That's not the only update Gear VR fans can expect. Oculus has redesigned the home screen on Gear VR, optimizing it for mobile. According to TechCrunch, the revamped Home on Gear VR will load three times faster than the original with double the resolution quality, which puts it closer to higher-end VR rigs like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
That's good for the more than 600 games and apps already featured in the mobile version of the Oculus Store, but the higher resolution is really beneficial for the mobile browser that recently launched. Dubbed the Oculus Browser, the service will let you go web-surfing in a 360-degree environment.