Has there ever been a product with a longer hype runway than the Oculus Rift? Maybe not, but it's finally coming to an end. The virtual reality headset maker's website is displaying a countdown clock on its home page to keep track of the dwindling hours, minutes and seconds before the company starts accepting preorders for consumer units.

Oculus, acquired in  by Facebook, wrote in a blog post Monday that consumers can start placing orders for the product Wednesday at 8 a.m Pacific time.

How much will the headset cost? The blog post doesn't say. When will it ship? Also still a mystery, though Oculus has said launch would take place sometime in the first quarter of this year. More answers should emerge with a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) session with Oculus founder Palmer Luckey Wednesday at 6 p.m. Pacific time.

Oculus started releasing special kits for Oculus Rift to developers in 2013. This is the first time the company is selling a final version of the product -- considered the cutting edge in virtual reality technology -- to regular consumers.

The new headset is a more heavy-weight experience than Samsung Gear VR, which relies on Oculus technology to create a virtual reality experience using a smartphone screen. Rift has more advanced graphics and is able to track a user's movements. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said repeatedly he believes virtual reality will succeed mobile phones as the next great computing platform. Not everyone agrees with that, though. In a post on Medium over the holidays, Digg founder Kevin Rose predicted that virtual reality will fizzle in 2016. 

Published on: Jan 4, 2016