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Six things you need to know about Samsung's Gear VR Headset

Al Sacco | Sept. 4, 2014
Samsung's Gear VR headset provides a truly unique virtual reality experience that's designed to take advance of the Galaxy Note 4's impressive display resolution. But the headset has a notable Achilles heel: It only works with one device.

Samsung today unveiled the latest member of its Gear family of wearable devices, the Gear VR Innovator Edition. The headset is Samsung's "first VR experience powered entirely by your cell phone," according to Nick DiCarlo, vice president of portfolio planning and product marketing, Samsung Telecommunications America.

The gadget is a companion device to the brand new Galaxy Note 4 "phablet," which was also unveiled today, along with the Galaxy Note Edge smartphone.

I was on the scene at Samsung's shiny new Marketing Center of Excellence and Enterprise Customer Briefing Center in New York City's Meatpacking district. After kicking the Gear VR's virtual tires a bit, a handful of notable facts (some good, some bad) were immediately apparent.

1) Galaxy Note 4, and Only Galaxy Note 4

The most important thing to know about the Gear VR headset right now is that it's strictly a Galaxy Note 4 companion device. In other words, if you're not interested in Samsung's latest and greatest phablet, Gear VR isn't for you. The headset doesn't currently work with any other smartphones. This includes other Samsung Note smartphones, such as the new Galaxy Note Edge.

Samsung hinted that future versions might support addition devices, but it didn't say for sure.

2) Samsung Gear VR Availability and Pricing

Samsung didn't release any specific availability or pricing details for the Gear VR headset, but it did say the gadget will be available "later this year" and "through the Samsung online channel and selectively by carriers."

T-Mobile says it will offer both the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge some time this fall, but it didn't mention the Gear VR headset. AT&T confirms that it will offer all three devices, but didn't say when. Sprint says it will offer the three devices, but also didn't say when. Verizon has a product page listed on its site for both new Galaxy phones but hasn't said when it will release them. Verizon hasn't mentioned Gear VR, either.

The Galaxy Note 4 and Gear VR headset will likely be offered as a package via one or all of these U.S., carriers, with a price tag in the $500 range for the pair. (You'll also need a separate set of headphones if you want the full audio experience of Gear VR, which could set you back another significant sum.)

3) Gear VR is Wireless, Has Its Own Controls

As previously mentioned, the Gear VR headset is designed to work alongside the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, which serves as the device's "brains," but it's also completely wireless and it has its own set of controls so you don't need to connect any sort of controller or joy stick.

 

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