Samsung is ready to fight back with a refined headset and mobile motion controller of its own. As part of its Galaxy S8 event today, Samsung announced that the new Gear VR will be available on April 21st for $129. Current Gear VR owners can also nab the controller separately for $39. While the Gear VR is still far less than the $600 you'd have to shell out for the Oculus Rift or Vive, it's more than the $80 price for either the previous model or the Daydream View. But Samsung might be able to justify that premium with a slightly better mobile VR experience.
I had a chance to try out the new controller with an older Gear VR, and I was surprised by how comfortable it was. The motion tracking felt fairly accurate, but mostly I was struck by how it felt in my hand. It has a slightly angled orientation, and your fingers naturally fall on the large trackpad on top and the trigger button on the back. That trigger, by the way, differentiates it from the Daydream View remote, which only has a trackpad and a few buttons. It makes the controller more in line with the Oculus Touch and Vive gamepads, and it's a big help for most VR shooting titles.
Beyond the new hardware, Oculus also updated its Oculus Home experience for the Gear VR. It boots up much faster than before, so you're not left staring at a black screen when you put on the headset. You'll also notice that Oculus Home looks much clearer than it did in the past. It's now easier to read text, thanks to a doubled pixel resolution. To show that feature off, Oculus also added a VR web browser, which was able to render Engadget and other major websites with no issue. Most importantly, the website text looked good enough to read within the Gear VR.