At CES, everyone wants to be the Oculus killer

What’s a better way to experience CES than strapping on a virtual reality headset and pretending you’re not actually at CES? VR goggles had their first big year at the electronics show, and it’s obvious they will have a strong presence in the years to come.

Here’s a look at the most notable headsets vying to compete with the grandaddy (or teen mom) of them all, Oculus:

The real competition

VR companies have primed us to expect ski goggle-like contraptions that would be awkward to wear anywhere outside our own homes. But Silicon Valley’s Avegant challenged that with its newest Glyph prototype. Glyph can sit on your head and look a lot like a pair of oversized Beats headphones, but then slip down over your eyes to show regular 2D entertainment or an actual virtual reality experience. Its screen doesn’t work like other VR headsets either; it actually doesn’t have a screen at all, instead opting to project images into the wearer’s eyes.

Fove also drew praise for its stylish white headset, but what is especially interesting about the product is its incorporation of eye tracking. Developers are working on eye-tracking additions for Oculus Rift, and the company could still incorporate it into future headsets, but Fove is an early opportunity to experience it. Eye-tracking can improve the feeling of immersion while in virtual reality or even be used to control a cursor or prompt actions in games.

Phone-based VR headsets were also plentiful at CES. There’s Visus, and, of course, the recently-released Samsung Gear VR. Both headsets are cable-free, which means they can be taken anywhere and battery-powered. They’re not as powerful, but their screens still look great.

An attendee tries out a Samsung Electronics Co. Gear VR headset during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Jan. 6, 2015.
An attendee tries out a Samsung Electronics Co. Gear VR headset during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Jan. 6, 2015.

Oh god why

One company, 3DHead went ahead and wrote “Oculus killer” right there on its booth. A whole slew of journalists demoed it and, well, the company might have spoken too soon.

3DHead is just a 3D tablet stuck inside of an enormous helmet, according to Engadget. Seriously — it’s huge. It looks like a Tron helmet for an apatosaurus. It sounds like the tablet on its own isn’t that bad, but it shouldn’t be anywhere near a VR headset.

Crescent Bay is still the clear winner

Bin Li of China tries out the Oculus VR Crescent Bay Headset prototype at the 2015 International CES on January 8, 2015.
Bin Li of China tries out the Oculus VR Crescent Bay Headset prototype at the 2015 International CES on January 8, 2015.

Hear that? It’s the sound of minds being blown, and Oculus’ latest headset drags it along wherever it goes. Crescent Bay is proof the Facebook-owned company is nearing a consumer headset. The release date is supposedly months away, but Oculus has made it clear it will release it only when it’s ready.

Until then, we have Crescent Bay. It’s not for sale like the developer kits, but the demos make its power clear. It is lighter, sharper and less likely to make people sick. It’s a real winner.
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