A week before Apple breaks out its next round iPhones (and maybe the iWatch) Samsung rolled out its newest line of gadgets on Wednesday, including new wearables, two new editions of its large-screen Galaxy Note phone, and maybe its biggest innovation yet — mobile VR goggles.
The Gear VR goggles actually run off of the Note, which you stick inside the goggle headset before you put them on. Developed with the help of Oculus — the virtual reality tech leader bought by Facebook for $2 billion earlier this year — the headset includes a cradle that helps snap the Note 4 in place directly in front of the lenses. Using the phone as the motor also allows it to be completely wireless.
Here's a first look at the goggles, from Mashable's Lance Ulanoff:
Ulanoff's a fan, calling Gear "Oculus' hipper cousin." Over at Re/Code, Dawn Chmielewski noted Samsung's VR strategy isn't all that revolutionary (Google worked on a similar device + wearable VR take with Cardboard at Google I/O), but did effectively demonstrate 360-degree footage, as well as a virtual helicopter flight.
Dan Seifert at The Verge also praised the device, calling it "a completely immersive experience that detaches you from your real environment. But unlike the Rift, there are no wires tethering you and the Gear VR to a computer, so you can freely move about and walk around."
One other new wrinkle is the new Note Edge that comes with an unusual curved screen edge, which is actually two screens that operate independently of each other. The curved portion acts like a sidebar that can display photos and notifications, launch apps, or hold alternate controls.
how 2 use galaxy note edge with your left hand pic.twitter.com/FkwYuCmtxw— dan (@dcseifert) September 3, 2014
The phablet met warm responses as well, though its wacky shape certainly raised eyebrows. Gizmodo's Darren Orf called it "a quirky little guy," and noted the quick response using the dipped screen. Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Wilson Rothman commented on its design:
While the Edge is mostly a 'they did it because they can' product, it's an original design statement and an upsell that would make sense for anyone in the market for one of Samsung's oversize Galaxy Note smartphones...
Whether or not it finds a true utilitarian reason for existing, the Note Edge struck me as subtly avant garde, the kind of hardware that lets you one-up others without being too flashy.
And because it's 2014, Samsung's presentation spent a lot of time on selfies, including a new "Wide Selfie" camera feature on the Note 4 that allows users to take wide-angle photos that get as many people as possible into your shot.
Lastly, Samsung spent some time talking the Gear S smartwatch, which also features a curved display. The most prominent case for using the watch is the integration with their S Health apps.
These products will all be available for sale in October.