Perhaps it was an inevitability: a smartphone accessory maker takes a look at the Samsung Gear VR, doesn’t see much more than a couple lenses and a plastic shell, and thinks, “hey, I could do that!” We’re still waiting for sales of the Samsung model to begin, but imitators aren’t waiting around any to get their own products out, and today we see the launch of what’s being billed as a more affordable, cross-platform alternative to Gear VR, the VR One from Carl Zeiss.
Yup, just like the lenses in your camera: that Carl Zeiss. Only now, the company’s got a VR headset with interchangeable trays to accommodate a variety of phones – the launch options include the GS5 and the iPhone 6, with shoppers encouraged to vote on additional models that will join those two in the future.
At just under one hundred dollars, the VR One costs half as much as the Gear VR, making it a much more attractive impulse buy, but will it deliver the same kind of user experience? That could make or break a product like this, and unlike Samsung, Carl Zeiss doesn’t have the help of industry leader Oculus VR. In fact, we don’t hear a lot about VR One software at all, and while an SDK is being released, we’re concerned about the level of dev support the accessory might hope to attract in the long run.
Pre-orders of the VR One are open now, with plans to have the unit ship in time for the holidays.