This is the year that virtual reality broke out, especially for the PlayStation VR system.
We know VR has been floating around for quite some time now, so it isn’t big news to many gamers. But this year VR became affordable for everyday gamers… and the timing couldn’t be better.
There are already a few high-end consumer VR devices on the market, namely the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Both devices sold out in minutes, but sales didn’t skyrocket as everyone expected.
The two devices created a buzz for months, especially the Rift’s headset. However, low retail availability and the lack of a killer app prevented VR from making it onto the holiday wish lists of most gamers despite producing great hardware.
Get ready for the newest VR device.
Enter the PlayStation VR.
With only a few months left of the year, Sony releases the PlayStation VR just in time for the holidays. This is Sony’s attempt to bring VR into gamer’s living rooms. The device is relatively cheap in comparison to the Rift and Vive, sporting a robust headset design that welcomes newcomers.
Which leaves us with the million-dollar question: if you own a PS4, should you get the VR headset?
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In 2014, PlayStation VR was initially announced as “Project Morpheus” before it’s official reveal to the public.
There have been a few visual tweaks and upgrades from the original Project Morpheus, but it’s the same core design.
Sony created a slick white design with black front panels and a rubber face mask that fits ergonomically onto your head. This is a different aesthetic style compared to the Rift and Vive, which possess industrial looks.
The PlayStation VR headset is heavier than the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive because it fits like a helmet rather than a ski mask that squishes your face. The PlayStation VR headset is said to be ridiculously comfy as well, which will make all the difference while playing for extended periods of time.
The PlayStation VR has a plastic ring inside the headset to rest on top of your head like a hardhat. The headset is customizable to each user with its adjustable fine-tune dial.
The screen anchors in front, which allows people who have glasses to comfortably wear the headset as well. Cool, right?
The PlayStation VR also takes into consideration the balance of wearing a headset. Although it is heavier in the front, the back of the headset is weighted to avoid the headset from pushing down on your forehead and cheekbones.
How much does it weigh? The headset is 610 grams, which is the heaviest of all headsets, but it feels the lightest of all three products thanks to the back weight on the plastic ring. And thanks to Sony, the headset doesn’t leave a ski mask indent effect on your face!
Another great thing is the face mask. It’s made of rubber rather than foam so that you don’t need to worry about sweating into the mask while gaming in warm environments. It also blocks out external light sources for deeper immersion.
The only noticeable issue with the headset is a tendency to move slightly out of place if you look up or down rapidly.
So far, the PlayStation VR has a lot going for it.
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Surprisingly, it’s only $399 USD despite being the most ergonomic headset on the market. That may seem steep to most, but compared to the other VR headsets it is the lowest price.
But there’s a catch if you want to buy the PlayStation VR!
In order to use VR, users will also need to purchase the tracking camera and the two controllers released with PlayStation Move. The controllers aren’t mandatory in every game, but, in all honesty, they do make the VR experience much better.
The base system only includes the PlayStation VR headset because some people already own the camera and Move controllers. Being forced to buy them twice would be clearly turn off many people.
On the bright side, you can purchase the VR Bundle for $499 USD if you don’t have them already. It includes the camera and two Move controllers, letting you play right out of the box.
With the additional cost of the extra devices, the PlayStation VR still only comes to around $500, which is still more affordable than the Rift and Vive by $100 and $300, respectively.
So, what makes it more affordable?
Both competitors’ devices offer separate screens with a resolution of 1080×1200 pixels per eye, whereas the PlayStation VR is only one screen with a resolution of 1080×960 pixels per eye. The grainier resolution drives down the cost of production.
However, Sony compensated for the resolution with a higher refresh rate, which has been an issue for the Rift.
PlayStation VR takes design into large consideration regarding its small features. This headset has an inline remote to adjust the power, volume, and toggling a built-in microphone.
For audio, there’s nothing built into the headset. But there is an audio jack in the remote, which feels more natural than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Sony does a great job in connecting all of its products together. But the downside to this direction is that the motion controllers are not the best in the market for a VR interface—similar to how Rock Band let us use microphone peripherals from other karaoke games even though they didn’t work perfectly.
The motion controllers have the typical PlayStation buttons; however, they can only navigate the menu. Sony will need to step up its game on these controllers!
Rather than the simple PlayStation plugin, this set up is completely different.
The headset uses a separate processor box that mixes the 3D video and audio and supply for your entire system. The processor box connects to a power outlet and into the HDMI port of your TV as well as your PS4.
This is quite the setup, leaving little room for charging your other devices. Luckily, Sony also sells a charging dock that’s built for your headset and motion controllers. The dock lets you get away with charging more devices with less space, which is handy with so much hardware laying around.
However, the best thing about this VR system is that you don’t need to install any additional interfaces. It just works with the existing PS4 interface, making it a breeze to start playing.
Sony gets a bonus point for the “social screen” function, which lets everyone else view what you’re seeing on the TV screen!
The PlayStation VR’s visual sensors are on par with the Rift and Vive.
They all have similar properties when it comes down to sensing where you are in a room, even when you are in a big space. The camera can track up to ten feet away! We expect the technology to remain that way for a while, so don’t let this factor keep you from diving into VR.
The PlayStation VR system will cost more than the PS4 console itself, but it makes a generous gift—especially with the holidays just around the corner.
VR is still a new technology in the gaming industry, and there will be more iterations in the future. The PlayStation VR is still testing out its waters, but Sony has taken a great first step by making VR as affordable, comfortable, and accessible as it could possibly be.
Here’s a quick summary:
That’s the breakdown of the PlayStation VR! Let us know if you are buying it this year.
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