It felt like just yesterday that virtual reality headsets were something to be awe-inspired by. This year, though, the virtual reality market has exploded, and choosing the perfect headset, especially with the gift-giving season coming up, can be a daunting task.

The Oculus Rift has certainly come a long way this year, but there is now a strong competitor on the market in the form of Samsung’s Windows Mixed Reality Headset.

Oculus Rift Meets Its Rival

The latest headset and motion controller combination from Korean electronics giant, Samsung, is nothing short of impressive.

The hardware, Odyssey, has been designed in a joint effort between Samsung and Microsoft and it is reportedly identical in software quality and image to the Oculus Rift. It’s even packaged and priced similarly, complete with built-in headphones and motion controllers that come across as a mixture between the Oculus Touch and the HTC Vive controllers. If this is piqued your interest, though, you’d better start saving as the headset is set to hit the market in a few weeks at a starting price of $499.

Samsung’s Headset’s Accessibility Trumps Oculus Rift

Sure, Oculus basically rules the VR market with a massive library of games and cinematic experiences, along with the impressive technical support and financial backing of its owner, Facebook. But, Samsung has a massive edge when it comes to accessibility. The Odyssey doesn’t need a ton of cables since it’s made use of inside-out positional tracking. This allows the headset to tell the computer where the user’s body is, and the motion controllers take care of the hands. Conversely, Oculus requires external tracking hardware that must be mounted to something or placed on a desk.

What’ Making Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Push So Big?

Mixed reality from Microsoft allows us to blend the very best of virtual reality, such as interactive, highly immersive worlds and high-quality visuals with a promise of augmented reality. This, in turn, fuses our real surroundings with digital objects. The headset gets to see the actual space you’re standing in with the help of sensors and cameras, while Microsoft’s software merges the two worlds into a seamless result complete with object recognition.

Tracking Your Body in Space

The Odyssey headset is reported to look and feel a lot like Virtual Reality, but they are, in theory, able to track your body in space. That’s how they can track without you having to set up cameras. It is reported that Microsoft is already planning to take those capabilities and build on the range of experiences the headsets offer into ones where Virtual Reality objects can be dropped into our real world and the lines between AR and technology begin to blur.

While Microsoft may still be some way off from a complete vision of mixed reality, where we all stick to headsets and conduct our daily routines in a sci-fi marriage of the virtual and the real, the company has certainly achieved a giant leap forward towards that vision and in so doing is set to give Oculus Rift a rung for its money.

Will you be putting a headset on your Christmas list?