The fundamental difference between this and the Oculus Rift, as per my understanding, is gaming immersion vs. casual home-theater use.
Sony's HMDs (Head-Mounted Displays) are made with personal movie-theater experiences in mind. Your FOV (Field of View) is about 40-45 degrees, and as such you still have peripheral vision and can see the real world around the edges of your focus. This also allows you to see your keyboard and other such things while enjoying the show. When you move your head, the screen moves with it. The resolution is super-high with OLED screens, but with the extra resolution the price tends to get in the $1000+ range. A wonderful experience (especially for FX-heavy movies like Life of Pi or pretty much any blockbuster) if you have the money for it or know someone who has one, but a bit of a barrier for the mass-consumer market.
The Rift is geared specifically with gaming immersion in mind, in this case predominantly virtual-reality gaming. With the Rift the FOV is 110 degrees, so your screen essentially is wrapped around your entire head so all of your peripheral vision is filled with nothing but glorious Game on your horizon, far as your eye can virtually see. There is limited (in its first development cycle iteration anyway) head-tracking, which allows you to move your head around in a 3D environment and see that environment like you would in a 1st-person shooter, though imagine it like if someone stuck a spear in the ground and put your head on top of it. There is no positional tracking yet (which means you can't currently move or lean your head/body forward and backward along x, y and z axis), but rotation and acceleration are measured. The lenses on both eyes are mapped to 2 cameras in the scene placed apart at slightly different angles to procure a stereoscopic 3D-depth effect, and the latency (basically the difference between how fast you move your head in real-life versus how fast that movement is recorded and displayed - the lower latency the better) is much lower than any previous HMDs on the market designed for VR use (which Sony's is not, at least not the ones displayed in the OP; they're working on one but it probably won't be ready until late this year or early 2015).
Concerning pricing, the Rift is still in its development stage and is not commercially available, however, they've been shipping Development Kits to developers and anyone interested for about $300. I bought one in December and have been messing around with game demos and such since, also have been building a game using physics and positional tracking so I can utilize the headset and any VR peripherals once they come out. Once the Rift has positional tracking and is released as a consumer version, I imagine the price to be $350-500, but that's just a guess. It does have issues in its current build, such as a noticeable screen-door effect (scene looks like its being seen through a screen door) and issues of simulator sickness (aka motion sickness) as latency, though impressive, still hasn't been effectively eliminated. There is still a slight disconnect from what your body perceives versus what your eyes are seeing, sort of like when you get nauseous from reading a book while on a somewhat-bumpy car-ride.
The home viewers are wonderful for their intended purpose, however I think full-VR headsets inherently have advantages of multi-purpose game and simulation possibilities and uses that current HMDs cannot match. Using the movie example, Sony's HMD allows crystal-clear movie-theater screen-watching, whereas the Rift has (currently) a low-res demo wherein you can walk around inside a virtual theater, pick your seat, and watch the movie on the virtual screen with options to focus on the screen itself or to "back out" and have the peripheral virtual sights allowed. It's the difference between looking at a room through a window and walking through a door into the room and looking around while inside that room.
Finally, to cap off this novel I'm apparently writing, the peripherals coming out to assist in seeing all of oneself and interacting fully within virtual worlds is all coming out this year. The Rift was the clarion call of the invading horde, a clear signal ringing out amongst the plains warning of an impending world-conquering army. We have/are coming out soon (like between Spring and Fall of this year) with:
1. Omni-directional treadmills that allow one to walk, run, jog, and jump without running into walls or physically going anywhere (Virtuix's "Omni" and Cyberith's "Virtualizer").
2. Body sensors and positional-tracking input suits that can sense your arms, feet, legs, and hands, allowing the rest of your body and not just your head to be sensed and seen, such as dancing, martial arts, patting your head while rubbing your tummy, etc. (Sixense's "STEM System" and "PrioVR's Motion Capture Suit").
3. Technology that can intricately sense all 10 of your fingers ("LEAP Motion Controller"), though there are line-of-sight/occlusion issues to evolve out of on that one...
4. 360-degree video; the narrative possibilities, the extended lifespan of watching a single show or movie with repeated viewings by just looking in different directions,
4-2. "Bubl-Cams" the size of baseballs that are literally 360-degree circular video cameras precisely for 360 video production.
5. "Structure Sensors" that can sense, with depth, random objects, furniture, even people in a room and can create instant 3D models of such, which can THEN be sent automatically to a 3D printing device.
6. Evolving wearables technology, such as controllers from "Tactical Haptics" "Delta Six Guns" and things like "ARAIG Vests."
There's more, but these are the ones I've been immediately interested in and impressed by...
tl;dr - This is going to be a helluva year for new tech. I'm like a pig in sh*t over here. ;)
For Liberty!! *GONG*
Want DP delivered to your inbox daily? Subscribe here: