After four years of hype, high-end virtual reality is coming to consumers' living rooms next week with the release of the consumer edition of the Oculus Rift. The debut will be followed by the introduction of similar high-fidelity head-mounted displays, the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.
Despite comparably offering immersive windows into 360-degreee virtual worlds, each headset has a unique approach to VR, whether it's the room-detecting capabilities of the Vive or the plug-and-play simplicity of PlayStation VR. Here's a look at how the three systems are different:
For early adopters, Oculus will be first to market with a $599 headset that must be connected to a high-powered PC. It's worth noting that although the Rift officially launches March 28, Oculus has announced that pre-orders have already sold out and new orders won't be shipped until this summer.
The headset will come with an Xbox One controller to play included games like space dogfighter "EVE: Valkyrie" and cartoony platformer "Lucky's Tale." However, Oculus' intuitive Touch controllers, which can recreate the sensation of hands in VR, won't be available separately until later this year.
Out: March 28
For a higher price than both the Rift and PS VR, the Vive will offer seated and standing gameplay experiences utilizing a pair of sensors capable of monitoring movement in a room. Unlike the other headsets, the Vive features a front-facing camera and sensors to detect what's in the real world.
As with the Rift, the Vive needs to be connected to a super-charged PC costing at least $1,000 in order to operate, but the Vive will come with a pair of wand-shaped controllers and games such as "Job Simulator," ''Fantastic Contraption" and "Tilt Brush" to validate its heftier $799 price tag.
Out: April 5
Sony is offering the least expensive entry into VR at $399. While the Rift and Vive only operate when connected to souped-up PCs, Sony's version of VR works in tandem with the PlayStation 4 console, which costs around $350 depending on the model, and PlayStation camera, about $60.
PS VR features one OLED screen inside the headset, while both the Rift and Vive have a screen for each eye, offering a slightly larger field of view. The headset works with the PlayStation DualShock and Move controllers. Physically, it fits more like a visor than Oculus and Vive's goggle-like approach.
Explore further: Google Cardboard says it's shipped 5 million virtual reality viewers