Samsung’s highly anticipated, iris scanner-equipped phablet, the Galaxy Note 7, is finally here and available to purchase in stores and online. While it may steal most of the spotlight, there are five other devices the Korean giant is also launching today: the Gear VR 2016, the Gear 360, the Gear Icon X, Level Active, and Samsung Connect Auto.
Gear VR (2016)
The revamped Gear VR brings mostly cosmetic changes to Samsung’s virtual reality headset, but there are some notable differences like a USB Type-C port, improved padding, and a wider field of view, as well as a dedicated button to open up the VR menu in any app or game.
The improved Gear VR sports a dark blue and black look, and thankfully it’s backwards compatible with previous Samsung smartphones, like the Galaxy S6 Edge. You can now purchase the device for $100 at Samsung’s website, Best Buy, Amazon, Car Toys, Sam’s Club, Target, and select Walmart stores. More information about the headset can be found here, and read our hands-on here.
Samsung doesn’t want you to just sit back and immerse yourself in 360-degree content with the Gear VR — it wants to to make it with the Gear 360. This round sphere of an action camera captures 4K videos thanks to two f/2.0 fisheye lens packed with 15-megapixels each. It doesn’t have any internal storage, but there’s a MicroSD card slot that lets you add up to 128GB of space. Thankfully, you can share your content directly to social network or to Samsung VR.
Gear IconX may be the lesser known of the other Gear devices launching today. It’s Samsung’s crack at wireless earbuds that also double as a fitness wearable — you can store up to 4GB on music, track your heart rate, steps, distance, calories, and more.
Of course, as with most wireless earbuds, Samsung’s solution will only last for three hours — if you’re lucky. We’ve seen it die as early as the one-hour mark, which is unfortunate. Still, the device has decent sound quality, is comfortable to wear, and tracks your fitness data. The device costs $200 and is available for purchase at various online retailers, including Samsung, Amazon, Verizon, and B&H. More information can be found via our hands-on here.
Samsung is keeping its music-geared Level line strong with the launch of Level Active — a pair of earbuds that connect to your smartphone or tablet wirelessly. It’s not a truly wireless solution, as the earbuds are linked by a behind-the-neck cable, but once you connect it to your smartphone you’ll be able to answer calls, control your music, and like the IconX you can track your fitness performance.
It doesn’t seem to have a heart rate monitor, but you can receive “workout data from S Health, hear the current time, or use the timer app to time your workout or run.”
The Level Active costs $100 and is available for purchase at Samsung’s website.
Samsung also wants to smarten up your car with Connect Auto — it connects into a vehicle’s OBD-II port, typically found under the steering wheel on cars made after 1996. It connects with an app on your smartphone, and apart from offering up 4G LTE as a Wi-Fi hot spot for up to 10 devices, the dongle also sends “real-time alerts” to the driver’s smartphone about the car.
For example, the app will tell you if your car moves unexpectedly thanks to a geo-fence; and an alert will be issued if someone unplugs the Connect Auto. But it goes a little further than that — the device gives you a driving score, detailing how hard you accelerate, how hard you’re breaking, cornering, and more. It can also tell you the health of your car, so you will be alerted if you need to bring your vehicle to the repair shop.
AT&T is the first to offer the Samsung Connect Auto, and pricing seems to be set by a data plan with the wireless provider. It costs $110 without a contract; and with a 2-year contract you’ll have to pay a $45 activation fee, and an “upgrade with no trade-in” is required at 24 months. Don’t forget to add in the cost of the monthly data charge. You can read more about the device here.
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