I haven't been able to try any of Google's software as I have no phone (can I make one out of cardboard?) so you may well be right. It seemed to cause enough of a stir to get many developers to start working on things though.
I don't think it's going to grow as rapidly as some people think, but I do believe it's here to stay (for realsies this time!) and will slowly but surely become an important part of many fields outside of entertainment. I'm a slightly nutty hardcore type, but I don't think it needs to be The Matrix. It just needs to avoid being nauseating, and that point is getting close. Unless you really hate Facebook.
I've been saying for some time they're going to need to set up showrooms so people can take them for a test drive, not only for the reasons you outline, but also because it's nearly impossible to accurately convey what it's actually like.
The VR community is doing a pretty good job filling that role at the moment, and you could probably find someone local who'd be willing to demo a Rift if you wanted to try it. Give it another month or so and then check out the second development kit though. Elite is stunning, but far better on the newer hardware.
It's accurate for orientation, but too slow. That's not a huge thing to fix though, there's nothing stopping anyone from producing an IMU which matches the performance of the one in the Rift.
Translation is harder. Assuming the lighting's good and there are enough reliably identifiable points, it would be possible to use the camera to correct errors in the double integration of acceleration, but latency is still an issue.
Changes need to be reflected on screen within about 20ms to prevent nausea in most people. When rendering is likely to take a large portion of that time your options are pretty limited. John Carmack has come up with some good stuff for that though, so it will happen at some point in the future.
There are still plenty of cool things you could do with this, I'm just slightly concerned people will try it and assume it represents VR as a whole rather than just the thrifty tip of the iceberg.