UK channel prepares for ‘the year of VR’

The UK tech channel is excited about the imminent arrival of virtual reality, but is remaining mindful of its price and requirements.

Oculus, the Facebook-owned firm behind the Rift VR headset, has revealed a bunch of ‘Oculus-ready’ systems: the ASUS G11CD and ROG G20CB desktops, the Alienware X51 and the Dell XPS 8900 Special Edition. These are available in bundles which include the headset.

The Rift will launch on March 28th priced at £499 – it’s available to buy direct, while select retailers will stock the device from April.

The HTC Vive pre-orders have also launched today (February 29th). It will cost UK gamers £689.

NVIDIA also has a VR Ready programme to help customers discover the best tech to access the technology. Steve Bland, NVIDIA’s senior sales manager for Northern Europe, said: “2016 is poised to be the year of VR, but it’s a demanding technology that requires seven times the performance of a typical 1080p PC gaming experience. The first step to making VR a reality is to build an installed base of capable PCs, which we expect to grow from five million today to over 130 million by 2020.

“Working with the entire VR ecosystem is what will make these experiences a reality — from companies making devices, to applications, software engines, platforms and retail stores.”

In terms of the price, Steven Levitt, PR manager for Overclockers UK, stated: “The price is realistic for a new technology, although probably higher than many were expecting. For the best VR experience, you need a high-end PC so the overall cost will be restrictive.

Competition will drive future development and we expect VR to become a realistic mainstream solution within the next two years.”

Elan Raja III, director at Scan Computers, added: “With VR, because it’s new technology the prices start high. And with efficiencies in production and also increasing demand, in the long term it will follow the same cycle as any technology. What you should expect is performance to increase and price to decrease.”

On the PC gaming sector as a whole, Entatech gaming product manager Adam Whitworth commented: “I am expecting to see vast growth within the gaming segment over the next few years. VR is going to be massive this year with product releases coming from several major brands including HTC and Oculus. HBM2 will also be a major release this year with cards expected from both Nvidia and AMD around Q3.

"Combined with this, we expect to see several major AAA game release titles to go with this hardware to enhance the experience even more.”

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