Re: "we've come a hell of a long way"
These are just the initial costs, early adopter pricing. Which is the norm for emerging technologies.
For comparison, early tablets, like the Galaxy tab were over $700 dollars back in 2010. A far more capable current device is under $300, even sub $100 budget devices are more capable now, than the $700 devices were back in 2010.
The market for VR will be smaller than the tablet market, I just chose it as a fairly recent 'new tech'. So I suspect prices will not drop as far, or as fast, as they did for tablets, but it will happen.
2016 will be for early adopters, those that already have $600+ GFX cards fitted in desktop gaming rigs, or have $1,500+ gaming laptops (You can get a GTX 980 in a laptop/notebook form factor).
By 2017 we'll have v2 retail kit out, and perhaps even some more VR produces, so more competition. The market will have matured as well, so more VR content, and the costs will come down.
Plus of course by next year, you'll have 2nd hand first gen gear available on ebay etc. Just like you can buy the DK2 gear now.