Oculus Rift VR Headset Available for Preorder for $599

The virtual reality Rift headsets are expected to ship in May, along with accessories and the EVE: Valkyrie and Luck's Tale video games.

Oculus Rift, VR, virtual reality headset, Samsung Gear VR, EVE: Valkyrie, Lucky's Tale, preorders

Oculus is now taking preorders for its $599 Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets, which will ship starting in May.

The company unveiled the price and availability details for its long-awaited VR viewer on Jan. 6, after initially announcing in May 2015 that it would release a consumer version of the Rift in the first quarter of 2016.

Each Rift VR viewer will ship with an accompanying sensor, an Oculus Remote, cables, an Xbox One Controller and copies of the video games EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky's Tale, according to the company.

Oculus has also posted a Rift compatibility tool on its Website to allow prospective buyers to download and run it to be sure that their Windows computer will be compatible with the hardware and software.

In June, Oculus revealed more details about Rift's features and components, including that it is equipped with dual active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) displays that are designed for VR to provide users with incredible visual clarity as they explore virtual worlds with the device. The Rift also uses an infrared LED constellation tracking system that provides precise, low-latency 360-degree orientation and position tracking for users for accurate and fluid control and operation when playing games and simulations.

Each Rift ships with a wireless Microsoft Xbox One controller so that video game fans can play next-generation games with the device right out of the box.

The Rift VR system is an all-in-one integrated unit that includes dual low-persistence AMOLED displays that are designed for virtual reality activities. They are worn on a user's head and have an appearance similar to a scuba diving mask, but with darkened lenses.

Rift ergonomics are designed to provide good balance on the wearer's head using a strap architecture that spreads the weight of the device. The device is slipped on a user's head just like putting on a baseball cap, and then its straps can be adjusted to fit well.

The Rift also includes a special mechanism to allow users to adjust the distance between the lenses for a more comfortable fit and provides a means to replace the soft foam that cushions the unit against a user's face when the foam wears out. The Rift can be worn with eyeglasses.

The built-in audio system on the Rift VR headset is designed to give users an accurate audio experience. The integrated headphones are detachable to allow users to opt for an alternate headset if desired, and a built-in microphone is also part of the unit.

Rift users will be able to see and experience a wide variety of virtual reality games and simulations through the device, as well as play with Rift users from around the world through an online gaming community of Rift players.

When wearing a Rift VR headset and incorporating an optional Oculus Touch control set, game players will be able to "see" and participate in VR games from anywhere.

The competition in the VR viewer marketplace has been growing in recent months.

Samsung launched its own $100 Gear VR virtual reality headset, which allows users to view video games, movies and more in immersive new ways, last fall, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The Samsung Gear VR is a consumer version of virtual reality headsets made by Oculus. The Gear VR works with Samsung's latest smartphone models—the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, S6 and S6 Edge—with their Super AMOLED displays giving users a richer virtual reality experience.