The affordable face of half-decent VR, Samsung's going round the virtual reality block once more with the Samsung Gear VR 2, revealed today at its Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Unpacked event. A leaner version of the untethered VR goggles, Samsung's latest head mounted screen hasn't changed much, but still has plenty going for it, especially when compared with its mobile competition, if not the Vive and Oculus Rift.
As the Note 7 will be the first high-end Samsung phone with USB Type-C (the connector of the future), a new Gear VR was needed. With a removable cap, the new Gear VR can switch between USB Type-C and MicroUSB, so old Samsung phone users won’t be left in the miserable VR-less world. Note 7, S7, S7 edge, Note 5, S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ are all supported.
Besides the USB-C to MicroUSB adapter, the new Gear VR has added some other improvements. Top of the list is a wider field of view - now 101 degrees compared to the original's 96 degree view. That'll up the immersion (even if the potential Note 7 inside is no sharper than the S7 Edge.)
Also, it’s more comfortable, the trackpad is better designed, and the black colour of the casing helps with glare inside the headset itself (you can see the new headset above, left, next to the old model on the right). All great tweaks for the best affordable VR currently available.
We'll have to wait and see whether that speedier USB Type-C connection has any effect on performance. Presumably if any difference exists, it won't be major, or the older handsets wouldn't be supported. But it's improved data transfer abilities open up the potential for accessorising – perhaps with a dedicated controller (though none was shown off today).
We're waiting on pricing and availability, but will share it as soon as it comes in. But it's worth noting that, if you pre-order the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 ahead of its September 2nd launch, you'll get a Gear VR 2 headset absolutely free. Bargain.