Why I'll spend $800 on HTC Vive before I buy the next iPhone

The trials and tribulations of rationalizing VR

The iPhone 7 and the HTC Vive are flying circles in my head. Two very different devices with two very different uses in my life, and both will cost me about the same. Now comes the tough part: I can only choose one to buy.

I've been buying iPhones every two years for a while now, albeit a few generations behind each time to save cash. When the iPhone 5S was announced, I hopped aboard on the low-end with the iPhone 4S and loved it.

Then, when the iPhone 6 hit shelves, I ponied up for the iPhone 5S that sat at the high-end of the offering two years prior, and am still pretty happy using it as my daily driver.

For this large chunk of time, I've been sitting behind the curve of Apple's progress. To be honest, it's getting boring. So, I told myself that if I ever get another iPhone, it's going to be the latest: the iPhone 7. I've been saving up for the configuration with the largest amount of storage, which will likely cost around $800.

The HTC Vive, as one of the first of its kind to hit the mainstream, is tougher to rationalize on paper for me. But, mercy, I want one. I want one real bad. I'm usually pretty good at holding out through the "early adopter" phase of a product's release, but I'm so giddy with excitement that my wallet is about to shake out.

I've never owned a VR headset, but somehow I feel totally alright with going into debt for it. But its $800 price tag doesn't even account for the imminent PC upgrades and the upheaval of my small apartment to make room where there is none to spare.

HTC Vive

All for this for one piece of technology that I can't even put in my pocket and bring with me.

If I choose to go with the Vive, will all of the money, work and the quiet isolation be worth it in the end? I have no idea. But I also think that these are questions that you're probably asking yourselves, too.

When you buy something, you're casting a vote with your dollars. If I had to choose, you'd better believe that I'll be chucking bills into the ballot that can fling me into virtual dimensions.

Now, time to press the the "buy" button

Let's talk money. $800 is a ludicrous amount of money to spend on any one thing. But if you're into tech, you're probably going to do it anyway. So what's the problem here?

The grounded part of your brain will relentlessly try rationalizing with every imaginable situation that lead you to the safe, proven option. In my case, that's the next iPhone.

But, the Jekyll in me never fails to chime into the battle.

Nope. Can't do it. Won't do it. It's just too much money. (What? Dude, you're on the checkout page. Just do it. Ready?)

No! I...can't. Not now. Maybe not ever. This thing is half the cost of my first car. (Could your first car transport you to outer space? Didn't think so.)

Most of my internal dialogue surrounding VR looks like this. Seem familiar?

HTC Vive

I'll use a phone everyday, whereas my time with the Vive will be limited to nights and weekends. (But even that sliver of time will be oh, so sweet.)

I lambasted the hefty designs of these headsets last year and said that I'd be waiting for smaller, more ergonomic designs to come before I buy in. Would I really go against myself? (C'mon. VR is here. You don't actually have to stick to your word.)

Buying an HTC Vive is selfish, what with the space and money requirements necessary, not to mention the minor, but nevertheless costly PC upgrades. All of this is really working against me. ( You, your family, friends, partner and cat will all love you more. JUST DO IT!)

There will be a dearth of content when it releases and I'll be without a truly groundbreaking experience in the first year or two of its release. (That's probably not true. Who told you that?)

Here's an easy solution: buy an Oculus Rift. It's cheaper! (But, it doesn't come with the controllers and light boxes. Plus, I'm still holding out for Half-Life 3 as a Vive exclusive.)

On and on, I can't quit sitting on my hands when it comes time to commit.

Silence these rational thoughts, fool

Once matured, most people learn how to better silence the inner voices that make you want to do silly, selfish, or overly spontaneous things.

I consider myself a fairly well-developed human in that regard, but screw all of that progress if it stands in the way of me getting the HTC Vive.

I've got the VR bug, and if you've tried it, you probably have it, too. I caught it at a press event where I was privileged to try out the prototype of PlayStation VR (PSVR,) then known as Project Morpheus.

PlayStation VR

What I was expecting was a screen on my face that showed a game. And while that's exactly what it was, the effect is other-worldly, and tough to explain in a few words other than "plain amazing".

Tech demos usually fail to encapsulate the big picture of what a new product is capable of. But, for me, I was totally swept up in the technology from the start, even in its unfinished state.

I felt things that the iPhone has never imparted on me: excitement and fear. Sure, buying a new phone is going to stir up some good feelings, but it isn't likely to last for long.

VR at its best, or at least the first time you try it, injects butterflies into your brain. It's like learning to walk, live and breath in a new world, except you have the tools needed to explore and not flail helplessly. To expect a phone to give you these feelings is silly, but when it comes to plopping money down, it's important to consider what you'll be getting out of your purchase down the line. Speaking of which...

How long will the VR "honeymoon" phase last?

This is the real question leading to my hesitance in buying my own VR headset. I want the intense fun, laughter and fear to continue for years. I have high hopes for today and tomorrow's developers to continue bringing awesome stuff to headsets, but it might be unrealistic of me to have such incredibly high hopes. Or is it?

So many questions. So much money. So much hype. I'm paralyzed.

When I first bought an iPhone, I wanted the good feelings to last in the same way. I was downloading apps like a madman. But then, I stopped. Only on occasion now do I discover a new app or game. It might have to do with the fact that I've sorted through so much app crap that I feel exhausted from it. Don't get me wrong. There is still some real treasure on the App Store. But, I really hope VR doesn't trudge through a similar path.

If I'm this skeptical about a purchase, it's either best to hold off, or just close my eyes and jump in head-first. Besides being stuck with a rapidly aging iPhone for the foreseeable future, what's really the worst that could happen if I choose the Vive? (Everything will be just fine.)

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