Now that Rift orders have been open for nearly two months, US$799 HTC Vive pre-orders are also now open for business.
While Oculus is taking more of a baby steps approach to VR, starting with seated, gamepad-based experiences like Lucky's Tale and Eve Valkyrie, HTC and Valve are making the Vive ready for room-scale, free-roaming experiences from Day One. The Vive can do seated VR as well, but to get the most out of it you'll want to mount its two laser-emitting base stations high on opposite corners of a (up to) 15 x 15 ft (nearly 3 x 3 m) room. Its clever tracking system will let you walk around the entire space, while using its Chaperone software and front-facing camera to help you avoid stepping on your dog or tripping over your sofa.
Though devoting that kind of space to an emerging technology is a lot to ask, the degree of presence in full-body VR is second to none – these are the kinds of first-person virtual reality experiences that made up sci-fi fantasies for decades.