By T3 Online
The gaming landscape is evolving
One look at the gadgets listed in the following gallery and you will see that the gaming landscape has fundamentally shifted. No longer is gaming defined by the device category you use, but by how immersive the technology is.
Virtual reality was a big headline grab this year, with plucky upstarts vying with the world's biggest companies to make it work. VR is definitely no gimmick. There's a very good reason why Sony, Microsoft and even Facebook are betting big on the technology. It has the power to bring you closer to not just familiar gaming worlds, but other people. Speaking to each other online and in games is now the norm; the next step is seeing each other.
While we aren't quite there yet, there has been a massive amount of innovation in the VR sector and that is represented in T3's Gaming Product of the Year. Not that it's all about VR - PC gaming and consoles also get a decent look-in, proving that a keyboard or gamepad is still the best way to pay games - for now anyway.
Every so often something comes along to change the game. To make a massive jump forward in some area of technology. HTC's Vive – in partnership with Valve – could be that.
The idea behind the tie-in is that HTC will be offering up its design smarts, while Valve will be making the device work with its SteamVR platform. The results are highly impressive.
From what we've seen, we say, if you can buy it, do. There will be games for it come Christmas - developers get their hands on it this spring. And if you don't want to buy one, beg a rich friend to shell out for one so you can 'drop round for a cuppa to see how he is' 3-5 times a week.
This feels like the real future of VR - the Oculus Rift was just the warm-up lap to HTC Vive's grand prix victory. The future of gaming and entertainment is bearing down on your face. Look, here it comes…
Read our HTC Vive review
Vote for the HTC Vive in the Gaming Category of the Year in the T3 Awards 2015
Oculus Rift Crescent Bay
The consumer Oculus Rift is, in short, well worth the wait. The masses won't take to it right away considering it's going to be expensive all around and many people don't have PC rigs set up. Then there are people who will likely face waves of nausea despite the near-perfect latency. This is the most obvious problem, but seems like a hurdle the team is getting closer to fixing.
More games are also being developed directly for VR, meaning there will be plenty of content trickling out. Whether they will be any good is another area that will continually be improved through trial and error.
The Oculus Touch controllers are the icing on the VR cake. We've used various peripherals before, but the software and hardware always felt a bit off, or simply weren't ready. The Touch is something we can see truly immersing you in the VR world, and it's only a prototype.
We are genuinely excited to see how much better the next iteration will be.
Read our Oculus Rift Crescent Bay review
Vote for the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay in the Gaming Product of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015
Samsung Gear VR
Virtual reality 2.0 is still in its toddler phase, which means all of Gear VR's tech could become outdated fast. This will be the year we'll (probably) see the consumer edition of Oculus Rift, but moving this from the margins of the hardcore PC gamers and into the mainstream will be another challenge entirely.
That's where Samsung comes in; open it up to other handsets and a device like this could offer everyday people the opportunity to try VR, and that's awesome.
Right now it feels like a box of neat gimmicks and "experiences", and it shows that virtual reality still has some way to go. But even as just a demo of what's to come, Gear VR is a fantastic showcase for this flourishing medium.
It's hard not to be excited about, even if most non-Note 4 owners probably won't want to buy it.
Read our Samsung Gear VR review
Vote for the Samsung Gear VR in the Gadget of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015
Sony PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 4 is a fast, great-looking, powerful console at a not-silly price that also packs the best controller that's adorned a PlayStation so far. It has a fair amount of good games of all sizes and price points to play from the off, although not as many exclusive must-haves as we'd have liked and it's not backward compatible with PS3 titles.
The PS4 is set up well to evolve – its developer-friendly spec, social integration steps, commitment to Cross Play and mobile extensions to the ecosystem across PS Vita, tablets and smartphones are all impressive. Not to mention that future Gaikai-powered cloud gaming plans give it space to expand and be flexible as gamer requirements shift in years to come.
Read our Sony PlayStation 4 review
Vote for the Sony PlayStation 4 in the Gaming Product of the Year in the T3 Awards 2015
Microsoft Xbox One
Like its nearest and dearest rival, the Xbox One is absolutely loaded with potential, which was mostly unrealized at the time of its release. There's no doubt that this console is capable of a full sprint right now, but at the moment its manufacturers, game developers and the public - particularly those that caused a stink over the always-connected Xbox One concept - only knows how to guide in terms of baby steps.
Just as no one could imagine the all-encompassing media hub the Xbox 360 would grow into at launch in 2006, we can't really see the road ahead for Xbox One. But we can see, from its specs and its manufacturer's investment, its gargantuan potential as an all-in-one home entertainment system.
Read our Microsoft Xbox One review
Vote for the Microsoft Xbox One in the Gaming Product of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015
Razer's latest Blade gaming laptop is an excellent machine, but, for multiple reasons, you would be much better off getting the full HD model instead. The IPS display it comes outfitted with might be less responsive and slower to refresh than the IGZO panel, but it should be just as colorful and easy on the eyes.
A QHD+ monitor simply doesn't make much sense on a gaming laptop … yet. It's absolutely lovely to gawk at for your daily driver, but modern mobile GPUs are just not powerful enough (yes, still) to drive the 3,200 x 1,800 pixel count.
Even with the lack of an additional hard drive, the Razer comes out on top in our book as the smaller, more versatile and longer lasting machine.
Read our Razer Blade review
Vote for the Razer Blade in the Gaming Product of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015