Oculus Rift pre-orders now open, but it’ll cost you

6 Jan 2016

The Oculus Rift is now available for pre-order

2016 will be the year of the VR headsets, with Oculus the first to show its hand. That hand, by the way, is jewel encrusted, it seems.

Yes, the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift is available for pre-order for $599 in the US. It’s being shipped to 20 different countries, including Ireland. And, those lucky Irish hoping for a bit of VR immersion can enjoy spending an additional chunk of change on top of that.

Yep, I just checked how much it would set me back to get one delivered to Dublin and the currency conversion reaches €699 before shipping. For those of you wondering, $599 is about €560, give or take.

A member of our team noted that this is still far below the cost of, say, a new iPhone 6S – or even Galaxy S6 Edge+ – but are users really going to get the same use out of this? I’m a bit skeptical.

For more accurate comparison, the updated PS4 cost €399 when it came to market last summer. The XBox One? Even less.

Oculus Rift

What do I get?

What do you get for that wedge of cash? Well, Rift includes the headset with built-in headphones and mic, sensor, a remote, an Xbox One controller, and two games: Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie (below).

Essentially, the money goes towards the software rather than the hardware, as there’s nothing hugely new in the latter.

The devices will ship in March, meaning by the end of spring you can finally have one of the more highly-anticipated VR headsets planned for 2016.

Oculus Rift

First out of the traps

As for rival manufacturers, HTC’s delayed Vive headset is going to be a few months later. April is the scheduled launch date but earlier the company hoped for January, only to redesign the whole thing.

“For too long, the promise of virtual reality has been little more than a promise,” said HTC CEO Cher Wang. “Today we stand on the precipice of a new era. Vive is creating a world where the only limit is human imagination.”

In truth, today we stand at the point where the Taiwanese company’s delays start to really feel the pinch. Oculus is by far the best-known VR manufacturer going, with the Rift, regardless of my views on the price, likely to be a success.

More to follow

Elsewhere, Sony has yet to show its hand, but this too is expected pre-Vive (which is actually called the Vive Pre).

How quickly consumers adopt VR is a big question. Already, users can access smartphone-compatible VR headsets like those from iCandy or Immerse for less than €40, while Samsung’s Gear has yet to hit the market.

I used a 3D-printed headset last week that cost about 50c to make, too, so the software behind Oculus, HTC or Sony’s creations will really have to shine.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic