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Samsung unveiled its Gear VR headset at IFA 2014 yesterday, its new VR headset that it worked closely with Oculus VR on. The Gear VR requires the newly-announced Galaxy Note 4 smartphone to work, with our man on the ground at IFA 2014 taking a closer look.
One of the big benefits of the Gear VR is that it is completely wireless, compared to the multiple cables that require the Oculus Rift to work. There's one that is strapped to the Rift itself, then multiple other cables that need plugging in (two from the positional tracking camera), one for power, and a USB port.
Our man on the ground at IFA 2014 is Johannes Knapp, who has just had some hands, or wrist-on time with the new ASUS ZenWatch. His video is below, and below that we'll have a quick recap on what the ZenWatch is made of.
Knapp notes in the video that it looks and feels like a good quality watch, where it's quite thin, too. We have a 1.63-inch 320x320 AMOLED display, a 369mAh battery, a Snapdragon 400 processor and a price tag of $260.
Samsung only unveiled the Galaxy Note 4 and Gear VR at IFA 2014 a few moments ago, with the Gear VR "Powered by Oculus". Oculus VR has just announced the new Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition, which is a new mobile VR headset powered by the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone.
The Gear VR was "created by Samsung and powered by Oculus" and over the "last 12 months, we've been collaborating with Samsung on the future of mobile virtual reality," according to Oculus. The Facebook-owned VR startup continues: "The project actually began as an experiment to see if great VR was possible on next-generation mobile hardware. Oculus CTO John Carmack and the mobile team at Oculus were able to blow everyone away in an extremely short amount of time, quickly proving that we were on to something special."
The Galaxy Note 4's internal GPU and CPU to power Gear VR, using the 2560x1440 low-persistence 5.7-inch AMOLED panel as its display. John Carmack's role as the CTO of Oculus VR is becoming more clear, as he has worked with the mobile team at Oculus on Gear VR. The year was spent between developing a new Oculus Mobile SDK, as well as optimizing Android and the GPU drivers for VR.
Something that wasn't too much of a surprise, but is an interesting new step for Samsung, is the just-announced Gear VR. Samsung has been rumored to have been working on a VR headset for a while now, but it is now official.
The South Korean electronics giant has teased that Gear VR works with the just-announced Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, which features a 5.7-inch 2560x1440 display, so it'll be interesting to see what Gear VR looks like against the Oculus Rift DK2 which features a 1920x1080 display.
The one big note here is that the Gear VR doesn't work with any other smartphone other than the Galaxy Note 4. The Note 4 will snap into the Gear VR, in front of dual-lenses that provide the 3D effect in the VR headset. There's a trackpad and back button on the right side of the Gear VR, with most of the movements and menu navigation to be performed through head movements and taps on the side-mounted trackpad. The Verge has already enjoyed some hands-on time with Gear VR, with some shots of the Gear VR teasing "Powered by Oculus".
ASUS has finally taken the wraps off of its ZenWatch, the company's first wearable, at IFA 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The new ZenWatch is powered by Google's wearable OS, Android Wear, and features a 1.63-inch, 320x320 AMOLED touchscreen.
The body of the ZenWatch sports a curved stainless steel case which is surrounded by a rose-gold-colored inset, with the top of the smartwatch featuring a piece of 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3. It includes a genuine stitched-leather strap with a quick release clasp in the box, but this can be swapped out with your own 22mm band.
Inside of ASUS' first wearable is the same processor that powers some of the smartwatches from Samsung and LG: a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 SoC. We also have 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal flash storage, a 1.4Wh battery, Bluetooth 4.0, a microphone and a biosensor that can monitor your heart rate and activity. ASUS has splashed an IP55 rating on the ZenWatch, so you don't have to take it off if you're going to jump in the shower. The Taiwanese manufacturer has also ported some of its ZenUI elements onto the ZenWatch, with some pre-loaded functions making the cut.
Jerry Shen, the CEO of ASUS has teased that its first wearable, the ZenWatch, will be priced at under $199 when it's fully revealed in October. ASUS should unveil the ZenWatch at IFA 2014 which kicks off in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday.
The new ASUS ZenWatch should be running Android Wear, will support English-based voice recognition, something that Shen revealed at a media briefing in Taiwan. Before the end of the year, we will see Chinese language for voice support from ASUS, too. We will hear more on the ZenWatch and ASUS products at IFA during the week.
Watch maker Swatch looks forward to launch its own smartwatches next year, with the aim of competing for a multi-billion-dollar industry that analysts expect Samsung, Apple, and other companies to dominate in the coming years. Swatch is the largest watchmaker in the world, and hopes its new Swatch Touch - scheduled for release in 2015 - will help shake up the smartwatch market even further.
"Our first message for customers is the watch," said Nick Hayek, Swatch CEO, in a recent interview posted on Reuters. "If they like it, they might also be interested in the extra functions. It is a problem if you only define a product by its technology. Technology alone doesn't sell, not in watches."
Analysts believe Swatch could take a two percent revenue and earnings hit from potential Apple iWatch growth with each 10 market share the iWatch can capture. Swatch and Apple would be able to offer a lucrative product, but Swatch wants to continue selling fashionable watches - and not just focus on technology.
We should hear all about the iWatch on September 9 when Apple unveils its iPhone 6, but it's still rumored - nothing is confirmed yet. Re/code is now reporting that Apple executives have been discussing a price point for its first wearable, with cheaper models to be released in the future.
Re/code reports: "Apple executives have discussed charging around $400 for the company's new wearable device. Pricing has yet to be finalized for the forthcoming product, which is expected to begin shipping next year. Sources say consumers should expect a range of prices for different models including lower priced versions."
I think we'll see Apple unveil the iWatch alongside the iPhone 6, with the $400 price seeming about right for Apple. We will know much more on September 9, just over a week from now.
The Apple iWatch will reportedly be introduced during a special event on September 9, with the rumor mill and hype machine continually driving interest for the expected announcement. Apple has been under pressure to announce a new product category, with CEO Tim Cook previously stating the wrist could be an ideal place for a new Apple product.
Details regarding the iWatch remain unknown, but previous reports indicated the screen size could range from 1.3" up to 2.5" - and Apple could release multiple screen sizes to consumers. Similar to other smartwatches already available, health and fitness should be major selling points for Apple's announcement next month. However, hardware specifications and pricing details won't be known until September 9, as Apple prefers to remain secretive leading up to its events.
Most smartwatches are designed for Google Android-powered devices, and while the iWatch hype has ramped up in recent months, Apple will have to compete against Samsung, LG, and scores of other competitors in the suddenly crowded market.
Korean tech companies Samsung and LG Electronics have unveiled new smartwatches, as Apple continues to wait until an expected event next month. Companies in the smartwatch market are interested in creating fashionable watches that still have excellent connectivity and features to draw consumers in.
The LG G Watch R has a traditional watch design and the Samsung Gear S uses a curved screen. The G Watch R includes a heart rate monitor, with the watch itself using a 1.2GHz Snapdragon CPU, 4GB of storage and 512MB RAM. LG plans to release it in time for Christmas, but pricing details weren't made available.
Meanwhile, the Gear S from Samsung has a 2-inch curved Super AMOLED display, built-in GPS, 3G cellular radio, running the Tizen operating system. It's the sixth smartwatch Samsung has released in 2014 so far, indicating the company plans to remain a major force in the growing smartwatch market.