The consumer edition of the Samsung Gear VR is on sale from today in the UK for the very reasonable price of £80. Initially the consumer Gear VR will only be available in Samsung stores but its UK launch will continue with O2 shops early in 2016.
Samsung announced the new Gear VR headset at Oculus Connect 2015 and it shipped in the US on 20 November. It's available in frost white only in the UK.
The $99 mobile VR headset works with any Samsung smartphone from the company's 2015 line, including the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy S6 Edge+. The first headsets were only compatible with the S6 and Note 4 so this new affordable device has a much bigger potential audience.
So what's new? The consumer Gear VR headset has a wider, redesigned tactile directional trackpad to help you figure out which way you're swiping. Otherwise it matches the original Gear VR in specs while selling for half the price of the original. That means a 96 degree field of view, accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensors and a microUSB connection to the phone powering the VR experience.
At 318g, the headset is also 19% lighter than the previous Innovator Edition for the S6 which can only be a good thing and there's a new Samsung GamePad controller accessory, with Xbox style controls, available to buy too. New foam cushioning aims to make it more comfortable to wear plus glasses wearers will find it easier thanks to a wider facial angle.
Read this: The early days of virtual reality app stores
It's good timing for Samsung as its range of compatible apps, games and experiences has grown into a nice selection. With Oculus software and apps plus quality third party apps from the likes of ustwo - and the ability to run Cardboard apps via a workaround - this is really what makes the Gear VR well worth the money.
This week Samsung also announced that its VR browser - Samsung Internet for Gear VR - is coming to the headset in beta on 2 December. It is voice controlled, has an onscreen keyboard and also a Gaze Mode that lets you select menus and controls by looking at them. It can display HTML5 videos as well as 360 degree and 3D video streaming.
Look out for a full Samsung Gear VR review on Wareable very soon.