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Last week, Samsung finally unveiled the long-rumored Gear VR headset, a slick looking piece of hardware that gives users mobile virtual reality experiences. On Friday, the company told VentureBeat that the headset itself would cost only $199 – but the Galaxy Note 4 phablet, which is required to run it and is rumored to cost roughly $800, isn’t included. Ouch.

galaxy-note-4Both devices will be on the market later this year. Moreover, the Galaxy Note 4 will likely cost about $299 with the purchase of a new contract. If you get yourself a Note 4 on contract and decide to pick up a Gear VR headset, then you’re only paying $500 or so for the first in what might be a new wave of virtual reality products. Even still, that’s a steep price.

So is it worth it? The Gear VR is the first product to be available to ordinary consumers that was made in part by Oculus, the VR startup that was acquired by Facebook earlier this year, and who collaborated with Samsung on the Gear VR’s creation. While Oculus makes developer kits of its Rift headset available, that product is still not finished. The Gear VR, however, is. As such, it has the potential to bring virtual reality to the mainstream.

Or, more accurately, it did have that potential. At $500, the Gear VR setup is a viable, if expensive, proposition. But because the only mobile device that it works with is the Galaxy Note 4, and because buying one off contract will cost around $800, the Gear VR is just too expensive and limiting. Chances seem good that as cool as it seems from the outside, most consumers won’t be willing to pay that much money for a device with such limited application. After all, until we hear otherwise, as far as we know it’s only meant for mobile use.

It’s entirely possible that the Gear VR could be used with a PC or game console, giving users the ability to play specially optimized games in a virtual reality environment. As of now, however, the device seems to be a wholly separate experience, meaning users are going to be relegated to using software made specifically for the Gear VR and the Gear VR alone. Until that changes, don’t be surprised if the headset languishes on shelves after it’s released later this year.

[Source: VentureBeat]

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