Facebook’s next virtual reality headset has already gone live for pre-orders. On Tuesday, ahead of Facebook’s F8 event, pre-orders for the company’s upcoming standalone $199 headset went live on Amazon’s website. The gadget requires no PC or smartphone to use, containing all the necessary hardware to power apps from the store.
The headset, announced last October, represents a big step in Facebook’s efforts to get virtual reality into the hands of as many people as possible. The company bought Oculus for $2.3 billion in March 2014, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has gradually incorporated virtual reality into his presentations to show its potential for social networking. These demonstrations have had mixed results — a virtual tour of Puerto Rico after the hurricane was widely lambasted as tone-deaf — but the message is clear that Facebook has big plans for virtual reality. Amazon’s pre-order page suggests the Go will arrive very soon.
The Go uses a fast-switch 2,560 by 1,440 LCD screen optimized for virtual reality, with a custom optical design with the same wide-field view as the Rift, but with reduced glare. Apps that are built for Samsung Gear VR will run on the Go, and it ships with a controller that has the same layout. An integrated spatial audio experience negates the need for headphones. Zuckerberg described it as “the most accessible VR experience ever” at the product’s unveiling.
While the Amazon pre-order page lists a release date of December 31, this is likely a placeholder. A sign spotted on the floor of the F8 conference shows the company is giving a Go headset to attendees for free as part of a special promotion, and Reddit users have spotted piles of Go headsets packed and ready to go at Best Buy.
It’s impressive, but there’s more to come for higher-end experiences. A project codenamed “Santa Cruz” packs inside-out tracking into a Go-style device, meaning users can duck and dive in the virtual world like with the Rift, but without using any external trackers.
The world of virtual reality just opened up to more people.