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Here's the Final Oculus Rift, Coming in Early 2016

After years of prototypes and hype-inducing tech demos, the Oculus Rift is finally (almost) ready for prime time. Oculus VR announced today (May 6) that the official consumer version of its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset will make its way to consumers in the first quarter of 2016 for a currently unknown price, with pre-orders launching late this year. 

Unveiled in an Oculus blog post, the consumer version of the Rift looks decidedly more refined than the myriad development kits we've seen on show floors. The all-black headset has a matte front panel with a small Oculus logo at the top, with slim modules on the top and sides that hold up the head strap. The bottom of the headset houses some sort of switch, and there appears to be a slim layer of foam near the eyepiece for added comfort.

MORE: VR Mega Guide: Features and Release Dates

While Oculus won't be announcing tech specs until next week, the company noted that the headset builds on the capabilities of its Crescent Bay prototype, complete with better ergonomics and head-tracking. The immersive tracking and spatial audio we experienced on the Crescent Bay at CES 2015 already blew our minds, so we're eager to see how much better it's gotten.

The Rift will have some serious competition by the time it reaches consumers. HTC and Valve's Vive headset is expected to launch as soon as November 2015, and Sony's Project Morpheus headset for PS4 is slated for an early 2016 release.

Oculus promises to divulge more about the Rift, including new games and experiences made for the headset, in the coming weeks. The team ended its blog post with "E3 is just around the corner -- this is only the beginning," so stay tuned for more Oculus news straight from gaming's biggest show starting June 14.

Mike Andronico is an Associate Editor at Tom's Guide. Follow Mike @MikeAndronico. Follow us@TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.