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Oculus ‘has an answer’ for Price-Concious VR fans, ‘it’s called Gear VR’

There’s been an understandably mixed reaction to the news that the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) will cost $599 USD today. While many were expecting this figure – especially considering the amount of extras included with the kit – others were hoping to see something much lower. For fans that have decided this price is simply too much, however, Oculus VR claims to have the answer; it’s Gear VR mobile-based HMD, made in partnership with South Korean electronics giant, Samsung.

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Oculus VR’s Head of Worldwide Studios Jason Rubin presented Gear VR as the answer to price concerns in a recent interview with Variety. When asked about price-conscious consumers he simply replied: “We have an answer for that. It’s called Gear VR.” For comparison, the Gear VR does indeed cost some $500 less than the Oculus Rift at just $99, though this doesn’t include the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge plus or Note 5 handset needed to run it, just as the Oculus Rift’s price doesn’t include a high powered PC.

Is the Gear VR a suitable replacement for those not willing to fork out for an Oculus Rift? The kit is undeniably impressive with some great content in the likes of Land’s End and Gunjack, as the compatible phone’s displays are some of the best on the market for VR. It’s even soon set to have its own motion control solution in the newly-announced Rink controllers. That said, Gear VR doesn’t offer crucial features such as positional tracking, and current mobile phones obviously aren’t able to handle the types of experiences seen on the Oculus Rift.

The Oculus Rift can be pre-ordered now, arriving in March for those lucky enough to get in first. The Gear VR is already available. VRFocus will continue to deliver the latest updates on both HMDs.

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  1. The Gear VR has a couple very serious flaws that need to be fixed before it is any kind of real alternative at all. First of all is the lack of adjustable IPD. If you follow any of the forums that discuss it like the Reddit GearVR forum it is clear how serious a failure of design this is.

    Second, it needs a complete overhaul of the optics by someone who understands optics. The current lenses are an abomination. Severe chromatic aberation begins within just a few degrees of center (which compounds the fixed IPD problem) and the warping distortion is serious as well. The existing lenses are easily removable and there is plenty of room for a compound lens so one can hope for a third party solution. A pre-warping of the image could help with any kind of distortion but they don’t do that either.

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