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The ‘new’ Samsung Gear VR headset and controller will sell for $129 and ship in April

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The controller is what’s actually new

Photo by Amelia Krales / The Verge

Samsung’s newest, Oculus-powered Gear VR headset and accompanying controller will sell for $129 and ship on April 21, according to a representative from Facebook’s Oculus division.

The headset and controller were first announced last month at Mobile World Congress, but pricing and availability weren’t known at that time.

To call this VR headset “new” would be a misnomer, since the only thing that’s new about the hardware itself is that it’s going to ship in a new color (“orchid grey”). Otherwise, it’s the same exact headset as the one that was released last year, with the same specs, same field of view and same level of immersion. What’s more interesting is the new, battery-powered controller accessory — something that could potentially create a more compelling Gear VR experience.

Photo by Amelia Krales / The Verge

As The Verge’s VR reporter Adi Robertson points out in her story about the controller here, these types of controllers have become a staple in high-end VR systems with external cameras; but are technically difficult to pull off in VR headsets like the Gear VR, which is powered only by a mobile phone.

By adding a mobile controller to the Gear VR mix, people can more easily navigate virtual game libraries, use a web browser, or play first-person shooter games. In my own brief experience using the controller last week to play Drop Dead, I found it to be mostly responsive (and better than using a gamepad). It’s lightweight, which also translates to feeling a little cheap, but it got the zombie-killing job done. We’ll update with more impressions after using it for an extended period of time.

The new Gear VR controller also sells separately for $39, and will work with older Gear VR headsets. Both Samsung and Oculus say that around 70 game titles will be available in the coming months that work with the controller; at launch, only 20 titles will support the controller.

  • Adi Robertson contributed to this story.