Wearable Tech

Samsung's new Gear VR headset adds a controller to the mix

The new controller improves interaction, letting you point, drag and drop, and shoot at virtual objects.

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Samsung

Samsung's new Gear VR headset looks awfully similar to the 2016 model, but for one notable change: there's an all-new controller included in the box.

The Gear VR with Controller (yes, that's the product's name) lets you point, shoot, drag and drop objects in virtual worlds while also making it less of a bother to reach up to the headset to adjust the volume or tap the Home or Back buttons.

The previous Gear VR headset let you sync up with a more traditional Bluetooth gamepad. And while the new model isn't nearly as elaborate as the Touch controllers that Oculus Rift users can add to their more elaborate PC VR rigs, Samsung is promising the ability to "point, drag and drop, tilt [and] shoot" with the new controller, which should provide a more immersive experience.

Including a controller in the box brings the Gear VR to feature parity with its main rival, the Google Daydream View, which works with the company's Pixel and Pixel XL phones.

Specs-wise, the new headset seems identical to the 2016 unit at a weight of 345 grams (12.1 ounces), with a 101-degree field of view, which may depend on the phone you use, and 42mm lenses. The headset is compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, Note 5, S6 Edge+, S6 and S6 Edge. (We can only presume it's also compatible with Samsung's as-yet-unannounced Galaxy S8, too.)

As for the Controller, it's powered by two AAA batteries and should last up to 40 days if you use it for two hours a day. It weighs just 64 grams (2.25 ounces) and features a clickable touchpad, trigger button, home, back and volume keys. There's also a wrist strap if you're worried about losing it while playing action-heavy VR games.

A Samsung rep confirmed to CNET that the controller will be compatible with previous Gear VR headsets as it connects via Bluetooth to a VR-enabled Samsung phones such as the Galaxy S7. This means it'd likely be sold separately as well.

Samsung also added that details on availability and pricing will be made known at its upcoming Unpacked event on March 29.

Check out all the news from Mobile World Congress 2017 here.

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that the new Gear VR would have a wider field of view, but we incorrectly compared it to an even earlier version of the headset. This 2017 Gear VR headset appears to be identical to the 2016 one spec-wise, except for the new controller.