Being a pioneer in the wire-free world of mobile virtual reality won't come cheap.
Samsung announced its intriguing Gear VR headset at the IFA trade show last week with promises that it will become available later this year. Pricing wasn't divulged, but a Samsung representative told VentureBeat that the Gear VR will sell for $199 when it launches.
That doesn't sound so bad, eh? But that $200 won't deliver a full virtual reality experience by itself. Samsung's headset is inextricably tied to the Galaxy Note 4, requiring the phablet to act as the VR device's screen and processing brains. With pricing for the Galaxy Note 4 likely to start at $300 subsidized or $700 at full retail—assuming it matches the price points of its predecessors—you're probably looking at a minimum investment of $500 to get those fledgling digital worlds all up in your face.
Samsung's Gear VR only functions when paired with a Galaxy Note 4.
No wonder Samsung's targeting developers and VR enthusiasts with its first edition of the headset.
By contrast, the Oculus Rift second-generation developer kit (which includes a built-in display and connects to your computer) costs $350. Company CEO Palmer Luckey recently stated that the final pricing for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift will land between $200 and $400, depending on how negotiations for supply components shake out. But Samsung and Oculus seem to have a "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" deal going on there: Oculus designed the software powering the Gear VR, while Samsung's Super AMOLED, 1080p Galaxy Note 3 display provides the visual firepower in Oculus' second-gen dev kit, as found in an iFixit tear-down.
Oculus' Luckey also said the final version of the Rift already has its hardware locked in, and it will include a big leap in resolution—all the way to the Galaxy Note 4's 2560-by-1440, perhaps? But there's still no word on an actual release date for the Rift, whereas the Gear VR's wire-free virtual reality will be available to Galaxy Note 4 owners sometime this winter.
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