Samsung is getting into virtual reality with the Galaxy Gear VR headset. The company made the announcement at a press briefing in New York City at a new retail location, named the Samsung Media Solutions Center America.
Also announced at the event were the latest update to the phone/tablet mobile device pioneered by Samsung, the Galaxy Note 4, and a new “phablet” variant called the Galaxy Note Edge, which introduces a new display feature to mobile devices.
Spokesperson Ryan Bidan told the crowd that when the Note was first introduced, even he was nervous about whether there would be a market for the device. “But when you’re going to take a risk, you probably should be,” he added.
The Note 4 has improved cameras, with upgrades to image stabilization and low-light shooting. The rear camera boasts 16 megapixels while the new front-facing camera has a wide angle lens and a 3.7 megapixel resolution.
The upgraded Note 4 screen, a Quad HD Super AMOLED display Bidan said is the best screen available on a mobile device, is key to Samsung’s virtual reality experience.
Developed in partnership with Oculus, the Galaxy Gear VR headset uses the Note 4 as a screen. The Note 4 automatically launches the immersive VR mode when it clips into the headset.
There will be gaming, music, and video experiences being delivered to the headset. I experienced a concert video which made me feel like I was right at the stage. I also tried a simple adventure game which had me jumping and swinging a sword to defeat enemies.
The picture was only 180 degrees with those two demos, but other experiences could provide 360-degree viewing depending on how they were produced.
With the Galaxy Note Edge, Samsung introduces a screen that wraps around the side of the device, providing a scroll of information that can be personalized. And when the device is powered down, the edge of the Note Edge becomes an alarm clock.
The edge display is actually quite functional, providing a space off the main screen for things like notifications, information scrolls, and buttons for functions like the camera or flashlight, and even a ruler.
BIdan called the Note Edge the “perfect marriage of function and form. We feel it’s the future of smartphone design.”
Cross-posted at the Georgia Straight