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New Samsung Gear VR Brings Better Controls, Wider FOV and USB-C

Alongside the new Note 7, Samsung is also unleashing an updated version of its portable virtual reality headset: the Gear VR.

While the most eye-catching change is a palette swap from white to a dark blue and black color scheme, the new, sleeker Gear VR -- which still costs $100 -- is also hiding a number of other subtle improvements.

The most important update is that Samsung has gotten rid of the bumpy touchpad and replaced it with a larger, smooth-surfaced version that’s closer to what you’d get on a laptop. There's still a bump in the middle so you can find your center, but overall the new touchpad makes it much more pleasurable – and easier – to navigate through menus and virtual landscapes.

MORE: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Hands-on

Above the new touchpad, Samsung added a dedicated home button so you no longer have to press and hold on the back button just to get back to the Oculus store. And inside, there’s more comfortable padding around the headset, darker, less distracting shrouding around the lenses, and an improved field of view that’s jumped up to 101 degrees from 96 on the older model.  

Finally, because the Note 7 features a USB Type-C port for charging and data, the Gear VR has been updated with a USB-C port too. But for those with older, but still Gear VR compatible phones such as a Galaxy S6 or S7, the USB-C port can be switched out for a micro USB-C as well.  

In case you need to charge your phone while you're in VR, there’s also a second USB-C pass through port on the back.

The new Gear VR will be available on Aug 19 for $100 by itself, or as part of select bundles when you buy a Galaxy Note 7.

Sam is a senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.