When Samsung introduced the Gear VR earlier in September the company said the virtual reality headset would hit store shelves this fall. Apparently, that meant sooner rather than later, as some eagle-eyed shoppers have already spotted Gear VR demo headsets at Samsung Experience Shops inside Best Buy.
Best Buy and Samsung were unavailable for comment at this writing.
A Redditor going by the name Hackertipz and the Yourift blog each came across demo units of the Gear VR at Best Buy locations in the Los Angeles area. The units were not operational and didn't even have a Galaxy Note 4 attached to them--Samsung's upcoming phablet will supply the processing power and display for the Gear VR.
The story behind the story: Samsung's Gear VR will be the first consumer-grade virtual reality available for purchase. The device is really just a fancy accessory for the Note 4, but it acts as a prelude to the Oculus Rift--a virtual reality headset that connects to your PC. Reception to the Gear VR should give us some sense of whether we're on the verge of the virtual reality revolution that many anticipate the Oculus Rift and the Gear VR will usher in. The two devices are also closely related as OculusVR collaborated with Samsung to create the Gear VR.
Waiting for the phablet
It's not clear why Samsung would want to show the Gear VR without slapping in a Note 4 for people to try out prior to the phablet's launch. With more than two weeks before the Note 4's introduction, demoing the Gear VR right now seems like a good way to promote Samsung's new handset.
Plus, even though the Note 4 isn't due to hit store shelves until October 17, the Note 4 was already on display at Best Buy, according to Yourift.
Further reading: Samsung Gear VR headset hands-on: Better than the Oculus Rift (in some ways)
The VR-focused blog also reports that Samsung representatives who work at the company's store within a store at Best Buy have yet to receive training on the headset.
When the demo units are ready for action, anyone wanting to try out the VR tech will have to sign a legal waiver to avoid lawsuits if you get injured, a Best Buy employee told Yourift. That's not as strange as it sounds, since some people complained of nausea when using early beta models of the Oculus Rift. (Later models greatly reduce the effect.)
For now, anyone lucky enough to spot the Gear VR at Best Buy will have to be content with just looking at the device. Whether the Gear VR will launch on October 17 alongside the Note 4 or debut a few weeks later is unknown.
Samsung has yet to announce official pricing for its virtual reality headset, but the latest reports say the Gear VR will set you back $200 on top of your Note 4 purchase.