Enlarge / VR, VR, and VR.

2016 was the year that consumer-grade VR went from something most of us just read about to something that started appearing in stores and homes. In the past, articles about VR proclaimed, "You can't convey the effect on a flat screen, you'll have to trust us!" and "It's magical, we promise!" But the praise was impossible to verify since you probably couldn't stick your own eyes into a pair of pricey goggles. Even as one of VR's biggest early fans, I empathize with that caged-hype feeling. Enough! Let's see how this stuff actually plays out.

Quality consumer-grade VR systems are finally landing in significant numbers, right next to amusement-park rigs, free store demos, and even half-decent smartphone rigs (from Google Daydream to a newer, slightly sharper Samsung GearVR). Enough VR content came out this year to merit a full-blown best-of report for 2016. Because the industry is still nascent, I'm skipping the list format and opting to break this up into a few sections—including projections about what to expect from VR in 2017.

Best current system?

Ars compares the major VR systems.

We've already written a few guides comparing the "big three" VR systems—as in, the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. (That designation comes from how all three are powerful enough to render "real" VR content, complete with comfortable head tracking, and all three ship with solid controllers.) Ars has yet to declare a winner in the VR race, and I'm not going to alter that call.

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