In Canada, the initial iteration of Samsung’s “Innovator Edition” GearVR has been available at select retailers for a few months now, but during Facebook’s Oculus Connect 2 keynote today, the company finally showed off the upcoming consumer version of its GearVR headset.
The most significant barrier to entry with virtual reality – apart from convincing people it really will be a big part of the future of how we consume content – is price. The Innovator Edition of Samsung’s GearVR certainly suffered from this issue thanks to its $249 price tag.
In terms of competitors, while we don’t know specific numbers yet, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Sony’s Playstation VR, which are both set to be released at some point in 2016, will likely have price points approaching the $500 region.
According to Samsung, the consumer version of GearVR is set to undercut these devices considerably, coming in at US$99. However, it’s important to note GearVR requires the use of a Samsung smartphone and doesn’t include a built-in screen, which is a significant reason why the company is able to price GearVR so low.
Introducing the first consumer version #GearVR @Oculus_Connect http://t.co/TgFNWJB8Bt pic.twitter.com/qZJZ39U0Mq
— Samsung Mobile (@SamsungMobile) September 24, 2015
In what seems like an effort to show it’s committed to ensuring virtual reality becomes a mass-market medium, GearVR is set to be compatible with Samsung’s 2015 flagship smartphones, including the Samsung Note 5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge and Galaxy S6 edge +. Unfortunately, the device doesn’t support non-Samsung smartphones, something which is sure to reduce its potential audience.
When it comes to physical differences between both iterations of GearVR, the consumer version of GearVR is reportedly 20 percent lighter, which will make the device significantly more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time, according to Samsung’s VP of Mobile, Peter Koo, who spoke at the presentation.
The consumer version of GearVR is set to launch in the U.S. at some point near Black Friday and will then see a worldwide release in early November.
In other VR related news, Oculus revealed today that it has plans to create a unified video platform for GearVR and the Oculus Rift, and that a GearVR version of Netflix is now available.
We’ve reached out to Samsung regarding Canadian GearVR availability and pricing and will update this story when we know more information.
Update: Samsung says there is currently no information related to Canadian pricing or availability that the company is able to release at this time.