Sometimes a good idea is a good idea, even if your competitor had it first. Well over two years since the first Gear VR headset was launched (but just a few months after Google’s Daydream VR headset launched) Samsung is launching a motion controller for Gear VR which adds a new layer of interactivity and brings the headset’s input scheme in line with Daydream.

Until now, Gear VR users have had two primary methods for controlling the VR world around them: first was using a trackpad on the side of the headset for swiping and tapping, and second was to use an optional Bluetooth gamepad. Then along came Google’s Daydream headset back in November which included out of the box a simple controller—consisting of a trackpad, a few buttons, and the ability to sense rotation—that much more intuitively allowed users to interact with the virtual world using their hand instead of their head.

Samsung seemed to agree that this is the way to go when it comes to input for mobile VR headsets, and is launching on April 21st the new Gear VR Controller priced at $39. Nearly identical in functionality to the Daydream controller, the Gear VR Controller gives you a more intuitive and interactive way to manipulate with the virtual world.

Hardware

The Gear VR controller is a squat little device with a trackpad, trigger, and a few buttons, which feels worthy of its $39 pricetag in every way except for the lack of an internal battery which could be charged via USB. Instead, the device uses two triple-A batteries (included, thankfully). That feels a little weird for a device which is intended to be used with a phone which itself would charge via USB. Granted, even Oculus’ high-end Touch controllers for the Rift use a single double-A battery instead of an internal rechargeable battery, and there may be some common reasoning between the two with regard to that design choice.

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The end of the controller has a bit of a crook to it, which angles the trackpad downward. That may seem like an otherwise needless way to differentiate from the Daydream controller, but it actually serves a smart purpose which addresses an issue I specifically noted about the Daydream controller in our review:

The controller works well and is a simple but smart addition to the mobile VR experience which adds a lot, but there’s one niggle that rather irks me. ‘Remote’ style controllers (those which are long and flat, and must be ‘pointed’ at their target), are not comfortable for long durations of pointing because they require you to cock your wrist at an entirely unnatural angle. Try this: reach out your hand like you’re gripping a remote that’s in the shape of a small cylinder (like a roll of quarters). Now imagine that in order to use that remote, you need to point the top of the cylinder at the thing you’re controlling; try that action and see the position in which if puts your hand—that’s the sort of cocked wrist motion that gets uncomfortable quickly.

The tilted end of the Gear VR Controller makes the actual pointing part of the device angled downward, which means your hand can rest in a more natural position while using the controller. This is an improvement, though frankly I probably would have angled the end even further!

The trackpad senses swipes and also presses down like a button down with a satisfying click. The trigger on the back side of the controller feels mostly like a glorified button, since it has a relatively short throw and presses straight down instead of rotating around a hinge like you’d be used to on most gamepads. Still, we’re glad to have it; there’s just something about using your index finger in a pulling motion which feels more natural for ‘shooting’ inputs compared to just tapping a button (or god forbid, a trackpad on the side of your head).

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Overall the Gear VR Controller feels just a little more snug in the hand, thanks to its shape, than the Daydream controller.

Included in the box, along with the batteries and a wrist-strap, is a little fabric loop which you can attach to the strap of your Gear VR headset and then insert the Gear VR Controller to keep it and the headset stored together. It’s handy to have a way to keep them from getting separated, but the implementation feels like a bit of an afterthought.

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  • Sponge Bob

    If I were VR software developer I would stay away form this thing – GearVF or Daydream controller
    useless toy
    waste of time and effort to try to develop apps supporting this unnatural interaction style only to drop them later on
    let googles and samsungs labor on apps supporting their shitty hardware products until there are better ones…

    • beestee

      That is your prerogative if you are a developer. Virtual Virtual Reality has been pretty great so far, and I purchased Eclipse: Edge of Light and can’t wait to try it out. FYI Eclipse: EoL started life as a PSVR exclusive and moved to being a Daydream exclusive, so while your opinion is valid, it is not a consensus.

      I can easily take these VR-lite experiences anywhere and show them to anyone with no set up involved. VR has not caught on well enough to take such an elitist standpoint. Anything that get’s mainstream interest in VR is good for all VR.

      • Sponge Bob

        mainstream interest in VR is good for VR but does nothing to you as a developer if your app has no way forward – just wastes your time for little to nothing

        A lot of companies produces some shitty hardware for VR and now want developers to come up with some “killer” apps for their brand of hardware to help to sell it

        Thanks but no thanks

      • Lucidfeuer

        Welcome to VR, talking to you again when you’ve had at least 6 month of experience showing them to people.

    • NooYawker

      Considering they sold a million or two of these if I were a developer I’d make some software for it. Nothing my major some simple vr apps for a few bucks.

      • Sponge Bob

        you can’t really make any useful productivity “apps” with this
        just games and “experiences”

        example of useful app: google brush or something like that

        • NooYawker

          You can’t really make useful app for Gear VR because.. well, it’s crap compared to real VR so you don’t get real VR apps.

          • Sponge Bob

            I would not call it crap, but with no positional tracking there is not much you can accomplish productivity wise
            controller – same story
            just cheap entertainment (or not so cheap considering phone cost)

      • Lucidfeuer

        If you were a developper, you would quickly realise that selling more than 5000 VR apps on GearVR is already a performance. Also who exactly sold a millions of these? Daydream didn’t, and we don’t have the number for the GearVR controller.

        • NooYawker

          I was actually thinking of Gear VR itself, not the controller.

  • Sam

    700 app on the GearVR store? Really?? Why does the same mixed bag of stuff show up on my store page? Egypt VR rollercoaster? Id prefer to see the remaining 699.

  • Gluv

    AAA-batteries… what year is this? 2007?

    • Lucidfeuer

      It’s the year “money-hungry cunts” after JC. Why would they make a better, more durable and slimmer controller if they can milk more money out of cheap plastic?

  • fuyou2

    Another completely useless fucking shit….

  • Bobby koulouris

    I’m actually amazed to see how negative some of you are. #1 Since when are batteries 2007 tech? #2 Those complaining of useless apps, go develope a better one. #3 This form of controller input is far from useless.

    • Sponge Bob

      it is utterly useless for productivity apps like 3d drawing or sculpting or building etc

      • CazCore

        so is a spatula