The VR headsets made by Oculus and HTC have been hyped for months and they are finally starting to ship to consumers. For many the experience has delivered and VR has lived up to the hype. Interest will continue to grow as these VR experiences are shared by the early adopters who actually have a headset. The challenge for expanding the VR community will be the limited number of headsets available to the public.
Anyone who has a headset today was one of the very first to pre-order a headset, likely minutes or seconds after pre-ordering went live. The communities at /r/Oculus and /r/Vive have been tracking deliveries very closely and have been stirred into a frenzy with each delay in the delivery process. Both Oculus and HTC have had hiccups in shipping and many early pre-orders are still weeks or months away.
Each company still has a substantial backlog. If you ordered a Rift today be prepared to wait until August for delivery. HTC is faring a little better with a new order shipping in June.
These long queues are a nightmare for the impatient. The good news is that there are alternative channels for those who want a Rift or Vive today.
If you’re extremely impatient and have the money to spend then head over to eBay where you can find a Rift or Vive for double or triple the cost.
If you’re interested in a Rift and have some patience then there is an interesting alternative available. Oculus has partnered with a few PC manufacturers to offer Rifts bundled with gaming PCs at normal retail outlets. These bundles have had Rifts allocated from outside of the long back-order queue and can be delivered immediately when they are in stock. For many people new to VR the bundle is a great option as includes an inexpensive VR capable PC and eliminates the headache of building or upgrading a PC.
Amazon has a variety of bundles available ready for shipment as soon as they’re back in stock. Reports from /r/Oculus have placed the delivery time at around two weeks from the time of order to delivery. Two weeks is a huge improvement over the 16 week direct preorder.
How could this happen? Is this a fluke? Oculus likely has agreements in place with both retailers and the PC manufacturers to provide Rifts in these bundles so that they’re available in normal retail channels. While most of the new Rifts off the assembly line will go to directly pre-orders some will be filtered off and sent through these channels to retail partners such as Amazon. Oculus isn’t trying harm the community doing this, it’s in their best interest to get the Rift out to as many people as possible through various channels.
tl;dr – Want a Rift ASAP? Skip the preorder line and go to Amazon for bundle. You can get one in ~2 weeks.