Samsung Gear VR Headset for $99 Coming This Fall

The consumer-grade virtual-reality headset will arrive this fall from Samsung and Oculus, and will be compatible with more Samsung smartphones.

Samsung, Oculus VR, Gear VR, virtual reality headsets, VR, augmented reality

Samsung will begin selling a consumer version of Oculus' virtual-reality headset for $99 later this fall, giving users the ability to dive deeper into VR games and 360-degree video experiences.

The upcoming Gear VR headset will work with more smartphones, including Samsung's Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, S6 and S6 Edge and their Super AMOLED displays to give users a richer virtual-reality experience, the company said in a Sept. 25 announcement.

"Samsung has been at the forefront of delivering mobile experiences and [the] Gear VR Innovator Edition launched last year was no exception," J.K. Shin, CEO and president of the IT and mobile division of Samsung Electronics, said in a statement. "We see virtual reality as the next computing platform, and we are thrilled to partner with Oculus on Gear VR to set the standard for mobile VR and bring this revolutionary product to consumers."

The Samsung Gear VR weighs 22 percent less than the previous Gear VR Innovator Edition, and includes improved foam cushioning for better user comfort, the company said. The Gear VR's touch-pad has also been upgraded and improved, giving users greater control when operating the unit with games, movies and other content.

"Together with Samsung, we've redefined virtual reality and created the best mobile VR experience available today," Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus, said in a statement. "On Gear VR, people are playing immersive VR games with friends, sharing 360 video experiences, and teleporting around the world with photos and videos—and it's only the beginning for what's possible with mobile VR."

The Samsung Gear VR will be available in Frost White later this fall.

In June, Oculus revealed more details about its future Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, which is expected to go on sale to customers in the first quarter of 2016. The upcoming Rift was first announced in May, but few key details were released about the devices, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The early technical details of the Rift are intriguing, including dual AMOLED displays with low-persistence that are designed for VR, according to Oculus. The displays promise "incredible visual clarity" for users as they explore virtual worlds with the Rift.

Also revealed is that the Rift headset uses an infrared LED constellation tracking system that provides precise, low-latency 360-degree orientation and position-tracking for users while operating Rift, according to Oculus. An integrated VR audio system is provided to give users the most real experience possible. The integrated headphones are detachable to allow users to opt for an alternate headset if desired, while a built-in microphone is also part of the unit.

Head-mounted virtual-reality display devices will see strong growth in the coming years, with about 65 million units shipping by 2020, according to a new report by ABI Research.