New Samsung Gear VR widens virtual reality ambitions

There's a new Samsung Gear VR in town. If you're keeping count, it's the fourth iteration of the Korean company's Oculus-powered VR headset.

Revealed alongside the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, the latest Gear VR packs in a USB Type-C adapter so you can plug Sammy's newest handset straight in.

However, that doesn't mean all you S7 and S7 Edge owners are going to miss out on the improved virtual reality action. You can pop the USB-C adapter out and swap it for a regular old Micro USB one. It's easy enough to do, and a little module just pops out in the front compartment.

On the visual side of things Samsung has widened the viewing angle to 101 degrees and darkened the colour tint to reduce glare and reflections.

We got our head inside one of the new Gear VR headsets at a recent briefing, and we can confirm that it's noticeably better than the consumer edition which landed at the end of last year. Sure, it's no Rift or Vive rival but let's face it - the Gear VR was already blowing the mobile VR competition out of the water, and the changes jump it on even further

We tried one headset with the new Note 7 packed in and one with the S7, and the bigger screened variant won out. Maybe. Or perhaps our mind was just playing tricks on us. We need more heads-in time for a conclusive opinion.

Comfort has also been tweaked, or at least that's what we're told. Weirdly, the working Gear VR samples Samsung had on show had no phones front-loaded, so the only model we got to try with straps was minus the extra weight of the handset. We will have to confirm or debunk Samsung's comfort claims when we do our full review in the coming weeks.

What we can confirm is that the physical control methods on the side have been improved. The touchpad for navigating the menus is much less tricky, and there's a new Oculus button for instant access to Oculus Home.

Samsung claims that it has over a million active Gear VR users - which is pretty impressive going indeed. It will hope to increase that number when the new Gear VR goes on sale. It will work with the Galaxy Note 7, S7, S7 Edge, Note 5, S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+.

We'll update with price and release date details as soon as we have them.

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