As you may have heard, virtual reality is having a moment, a fact readily apparent at CES 2016.
The following key players are setting the stage for an incredible year in technology and gaming.
So check them out—they’re changing the (virtual) world.
1. Playstation VR
Sony’s Playstation VR stands to be far more popular than it’s competitors. This headset doesn’t require a fancy gaming setup, only the Playstation 4 console, which is already in the hands of nearly 36 million consumers globally. Sony also has the leg up on game titles, which is a major key to market success. The device will launch in October of this year for a suggested retail price of USD $399.
2. Oculus Rift
Facebook-owned Oculus has piqued our interest in VR from early on. The years-long build up to the release garnered many early adopters for the VR pioneer—and a massive stream of pre-orders. The $599 pre-order price is hefty considering it doesn’t come with the controllers (set for release later this year) and you’ll need a solid gaming PC for operation. For what it’s worth, Oculus is offering bundles for the Rift and PC for $1,499.
3. Microsoft HoloLens
Microsoft offers the first fully untethered VR headset we’ve seen. HoloLens is self-sufficient and doesn’t require a console or PC to run. This futuristic headset provides a true augmented reality experience—layering the real and the virtual. The developer kits are shipping early this year for $3,000, and the consumer version is estimated to be around half that amount.
4. HTC Vive Pre
HTC recently threw its hat into the virtual reality ring with a device called Vive. Unlike other headsets, the Vive has a front-facing camera that aids in an interesting hybrid between virtual space and meat space. Powered by Valve’s SteamVR, this headset portends a more robust gaming experience than other options, but it will require some major PC power to generate the virtual world. HTC hasn’t announced pricing yet, but it will likely be on the high side.
5. Samsung Gear VR
One of the first low-cost headsets to be released, Samsung opened the floodgates for accessible VR devices in the coming year. The Gear VR is powered by Oculus but uses a Samsung phone as the engine. If you are looking to dabble in virtual reality without shelling out the big bucks, the Gear VR might be your thing. But at $99, you get what you pay for: The quality doesn’t compare to others and your phone battery will be drained in no time.
6. Google Cardboard VR
As we eagerly anticipate Google’s secret, yet-to-be-announced VR project, Google Cardboard is a fun and inexpensive way to get your feet wet in the virtual world. Like the Gear VR, Google Cardboard utilizes your smartphone to create a unique, immersive experience. Build your own viewer to work with the apps, or purchase one online for about twenty bucks. Hey, if it’s good enough for heart surgeons, it’s good enough for you.