Guest post by Liz Pekler, image by pixabay.

Imagine a world where gamers wear head-mounted displays and enter immersive worlds to battle aliens and robots. Or how about a world where high-definition holograms are seamlessly integrated into every aspect of our lives?

For decades, sci-fi writers and futurists have explored the endless possibilities that may be opened up by virtual reality (VR). These possibilities will be realized in 2016 with the release of consumer versions of VR headsets from three makers: HTC Vive (co-developed by HTC and Valve Corporation), Oculus Rift (developed by Facebook-owned Oculus VR), and Sony’s PlayStation VR.

Eagerly anticipated as the next big ticket gadgets this year that will bring you to a different virtual immersive experience, these landmark devices are not just exciting—they’re set to change the way we play, learn, communicate, and consume media.

Enter Astonishing Immersive Worlds with the HTC Vive

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Image Source: HTC Vive

The HTC Vive is now available for pre-order and will begin shipping on April 5, 2016. Priced at $799, Vive promises to deliver “room-scale gameplay with precise motion tracking and natural controller gestures.”

Unlike its VR headset competitors, the HTC Vive delivers a full-room experience, as the kit senses the entire room and frees the user to wander around in a space up to 5 meters (16 feet). The Vive also features an external front-facing camera as part of its “Chaperone” safety system, which automatically displays a real world feed from the camera to safely guide users from obstacles.

Those who pre-order the HTC Vive will get the headset, two wireless controllers, and two base stations that enable 360°-room-scale motion tracking. Free add-ons include the games Tilt Brush, Fantastic Contraption, and Job Simulator. With Valve involved, users will also have access to Steam’s games library such as the highly anticipated Portal and Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine.

Specs-wise, the HTC Vive does not disappoint. Resolution clocks in at 2160 X 1200, and there’s a 110° field of view.

Experience Next-Generation Virtual Reality with Oculus Rift

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Image Source: Oculus

The Oculus Rift is now available for order and was scheduled for release on March 28, 2016. Priced at $599, the kit includes the headset, sensor, remote, cables, Xbox One controller, as well as the games EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale. Thirty additional games will also be launched alongside the Rift’s official release.

The Rift promises to provide a truly immersive experience with its precise, low-latency constellation tracking system that facilitates the sensation of presence. In other words, if you’re inside a battleship shooting aliens, you’ll feel it, not just see it.

The Rift is also armed with a ground-breaking new pair of controllers (one for each hand) known as Oculus Touch. Each controller has an analog stick, two buttons, a trigger under the index finger, and another trigger under the middle finger. Each trigger has a sensor, which alerts the users if their fingers are actually touching the triggers.

Aside from accurately detecting users’ hand movements, Oculus Touch feels very natural that most users can master them intuitively. And just like the Vive, the Rift also boasts a resolution of 2160 X 1200 and a field of view of 110°.

A high-performance VR headset requires an equally high-performance PC. Fortunately, Oculus has partnered with top manufacturers of PC systems and components (including Asus and Dell) to provide a wide range of computer systems that are optimized for the Oculus Rift.

Enjoy an Unparalleled Sense of Presence with the PlayStation VR

Image Source: PlayStation VR

More affordably priced than its competitors at $399, the PlayStation VR is scheduled for release in October 2016 and is available for pre-order. A great kit for those who prefer console gaming, the pre-order kit, however, does not include some important additional requirements—namely the PlayStation Camera (sold separately for $60) and, of course, the PS4 (sold separately for $349).

What is included in the PlayStation VR kit is the headset, processor unit, stereo earbuds, HDMI and USB cables, AC adaptor and power cord, and a PS VR headset connection adaptor. As for the games, the PlayStation VR offers EVE: Valkyrie, Rez Infinite, RIGS Mechanized Combat League, Star Wars: Battlefront, and other awesome immersive games.

Those who are new to the PS4 family can invest in a new PS4 bundle with the camera included for $549, and then add on the PlayStation VR for an additional $399.

Liz Pekler is a travel photographer with almost 10 years of experience in the field. When she is not out exploring the world, she likes to share her knowledge about photography and travel through writing for blogs.

Liz Pekler


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