With countless major technology brands competing both for your dollars and your attention, virtual reality is well and truly out of the the lab and into the wild in 2017. It’s not quite tapped into the mainstream in the same way that smartphone did almost a decade ago – but it feels like the category is well on its way to reaching a similar sort of mass market.
Unfortunately, at least for now, buying into the higher end of virtual reality experiences doesn’t come cheap.
There’s always some wiggle room but generally a dedicated headset – one designed to be used with a high-end PC or games console – can cost you around $1000. While that steep price-tag is definitely going to slow dedicated virtual reality from growing as fast as mobile VR is, the fidelity of experiences on offer here are so much more impressive on a technical level that the allure remains.
Still, with the price-tag so high, you want to make sure you choose the right VR headset for you. Here’s why you should consider picking up an Oculus Rift:
Many enthusiasts consider the Oculus Rift to be “the headset that started it all.” In 2012, the startup behind the headset raised $2.5 million in crowdfunding to produce its VR headset. The explosive popularity of the Rift’s initial Kickstarter is often cited by many as the breakthrough moment that demonstrated the viability of virtual reality to both investors and consumers. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey even made his way onto the front cover of TIME Magazine.
Why should you get a Rift?
As a result of its age, the Rift is a strong contender for the most polished of the three major dedicated headsets on the market. It’s also got one of the strongest content libraries, especially if you’re interested in the gaming side of things. Many of the Vive’s biggest VR games are also available on Oculus but not vice-versa.
In addition, it’s also much more user friendly on a number of fronts. It’s easier to set up and comes bundled with a number of demos that do a great job of illustrating the possibilities of the technology – specifically, the Oculus Touch controllers.
Price-wise, the Oculus isn’t exactly cheap. However, it is notably cheaper than the HTC Vive at $550 US (plus another $99 for the Oculus Touch controllers). Oculus are also currently offering free express shipping on Australian orders as well, which makes the currency-conversion a little easier to swallow. All told, if you’re willing to buy into virtual reality this early – it’s a compelling way to go.
Why shouldn’t you get a Rift?
While the Oculus Rift experience has evolved and improved itself in a number of notable ways since the headset first launched, it does feel like the company have begun to run out of steam somewhat over the last year. While Oculus’ parent company Facebook spent a lot of time talking up some of the new software experiences coming to the Rift at their recent F8 conference, they were a little quiet on hardware innovation – which is one area where the Vive continues to gain ground.
The other reason to perhaps hold off on a Rift is a little more complicated. After several high-profile PR setbacks last year (resulting from a backlash to Luckey’s own political views), the company has now found itself tied up of a multi-million dollar legal feud with video game publisher ZeniMax. Now, as a result of the court ruling in the favor of the latter party in the first round of the lawsuit, Oculus is facing an injunction against the sale of the Rift headset.
Given the tenuous verdict of the first trial, it’s difficult to say who will prevail – or even if a second lawsuit will deter Facebook from continuing to invest in the VR space and the company it already spent $2 billion to acquire. Regardless, it’s definitely something to keep in mind if you’re looking at buying a Rift.