No doubt, 2016 is going to be a big year in the world of virtual reality. In fact, it might be the year. This could be the make it or break it time as the technology starts to enter into the households of more than just serious gamers and tech junkies, and a few companies are already looking toward how to make mainstream VR both enjoyable for users and accessible for a broad audience. Here are four of the top contenders.
The Oculus Rift is the current heavy-hitter when it comes to VR headsets, and with good reason. Set to start shipping in March of 2016, this headset started the trend back in 2012 when it appeared as a crowdfunded idea that had little more than proof of concept.
Its heavy $600 price tag has some feeling scorned, but overall it’s quality and range of experience are unparalleled and early tests have people saying that the Oculus is the one to beat, both because of quality and freedom. The development on Oculus’ end has been staggering, and neither the headset nor the developers are confined to a single platform. This gives the Rift a huge edge when it comes creating the most comprehensive VR experience.
HTC Vive Pre
HTC’s headset and accompanying hand controllers give a good experience in the virtual world, but where they really shine is interacting with actual reality. The Vive Pre features some incredible specs when it comes to tracking your motion, keeping up with you through 70 sensors that track not only your movement but where you are in relation to everything around you. Couple that with the front facing passthrough camera, and you’re able to see an outline of what’s around you so that you can actually interact with the device in your own home without worry.
Due out in April with a so-far unnamed price, the Vive still seems to have the gaming world buzzing about what’s to come.
Sony PlayStation VR
Sometime in the first half of 2016, this PlayStation-exclusive headset will come out, and it will be better than ever. While early tests of the product report some motion blur and positional awareness, Sony has addressed these matters and made a bigger, better headset that’s meant to couple perfectly with its feature platform. While non-PlayStation loyalists might not be as excited, those who have no problem powering up a PS are going to get a headset made specifically for gaming, which will allow for networking, tracking, and display meant for what players love most – the game, itself.
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung is expanding its Gear line beyond watches with their VR headset. Partnered with Oculus, the Gear VR is out to make virtual reality a bit more affordable and accessible, and a lot more multifunctional. At $99, its taken the Google Cardboard idea and refined it into something that’s actually enjoyable to use. Pop your Samsung phone into the front and experience VR powered by Oculus, but tailored to the casual VR user, rather than the enthusiast. It won’t be the biggest or best VR experience to come out of 2016, but a quality piece of equipment made affordable might just do more for the VR trend than any other headset out there.