SONY PlayStation Virtual Reality PSVR Headset Review | $399

SONY PlayStation Virtual Reality PSVR Headset Review | $399

PlayStation VR is Sony’s response to the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. It is an affordable, unintimidating virtual reality gaming headset, designed to work with the PLayStation 4 console.

Now that it’s here the question for PlayStation gamers…is should you buy one?

The PSVR headset is designed with clean white curves contrasting a black front panel and a rubber face mask. It works by having the PlayStation Camera track it via glowing blue lights along the edges of the headset. The shape of the device is fairly consistent with the old HMZ personal viewer from Sony, but they have done away with idea of making seem small. Overall compared to the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift the Sony headset looks beautiful and gives off an heir of technological advancement, let’s be real though, looks arn’t everything….

CHECK OUT PSVR AT AMAZON

PlayStation VR is Super Comfortable

The headset was built to be comfortable. It has a well padded plastic ring that rests on your head like a construction helmet. To fit it on your head you push a button on the side that loosens the ring, you place it on your head, and the can tighten to your liking with a dial on the back. The virtual reality viewer is located on the front of the ring where it almost feels like it is floating in front of your face. To adjust the focus there is button that makes the screen slide towards you or away from you…this makes it easily fit over a pair of glasses.

PlayStation 4 VR Headset

What is odd about the PSVR headset is that at 1.3 lbs it is the heaviest VR headset, but on your face it feels the lightest. Sony did a really good job balancing the weight so that it is not bearing down on your nose and cheeks. The Rift and Vive both feel extremely front heavy. They also used rubber on the face mask to pad it instead of foam, which means it’s not gonna soak up dirt, sweat, or makeup. The rubber also does a phenomenal job of blocking out the light from the outside world making you feel like the VR screen is now your existence.

“This is far and away the most comfortable VR headset on the market”
The only design flaw of the design seems to be looking straight up or violently shaking your head, when you do that you need to readjust the headset on your head. I only play racing games, so thats a non issue for me, but worth mentioning for others.

Pricing and Everything You Need With It

What makes the PSVR so attractive is the price at $399. However the truth is that you need more than just the headset to operate your device. In addition to the PSVR headset you need a mandatory PlayStation’s tracking camera and you should really have two move controllers. If you are a racing gamer, then a Playstation steering wheel also can make huge difference especially with a driving setup geared towards VR.

Sony VR Bundle

“The best bet for PSVR potential buyers that don’t own at least the camera on the move controllers is the PSVR Bundle for $499”
Whats crazy is that even at $499 this is still the least expensive virtual reality system! Now of course that’s in part due to the fact that the PSVR isn’t pushing the same top of the line specs as it’s competitors, but don’t mistake this; games will run smooth on the PSVR with very little latency and it has a high screen refresh rate to help compensate for a lower resolution. It also has a nice wide field of view comparable to the other devices on the market.

Do You Need a PlayStation 4 Pro Console?

You do not need a PS4 Pro to run PlayStation Virtual Reality. While the Pro version is said to improve the frame rate and image quality, Sony is saying that the device will work great with the PS4 and PS4 slim.

The Motion Controller

Compared to the motion controllers of the Vive and Rift, Sony’s controllers, called “Move” controllers leave a lot to be desired. What makes them inferior is their interface is just not a good fit for virtual reality. They have four tiny buttons that are only good for stuff like menu selection and then it has inliad buttons on the side of the controller which are tough to find. The only thing of real gaming value is the trigger and one huge button on the top.

PS Motion Controllers

The Move controllers work fine for most games that don’t require frantic movement, but when you have a game the you need to swing around your arms alot they can become disoriented and you will have to reset them after they have fallen out of place. I would imagine the Move controllers will be a major point of emphasis for Sony going forward and maybe have a new controller peripheral to offer as we get into 2017.

“The Move motion controllers are the one thing that Sony needs to improve”

PlayStation Camera

The camera is said to cover an area about 6 feet wide and about 10 feet deep, which should be more than enough for most people. If however you have a huge room you are playing then you may need to rearrange some furniture if you are playing a VR game that requires you to be seated. Since all I really play is racing games, I am always in my sim cockpit so no big deal, but may be a big deal for you. Whats good about the distance the camera covers is that Sony smartly included a long enough cable to cover the motion area and account for a nice sized space between you and your TV.

“The camera does a good job of tracking your head movements and features a suitable range of width and depth”

You can Game in Privacy or Public

The nice part about a VR headset is you don not have to broadcast it on your television. Let’s say you want to play a non virtual reality game, PSVR will launch it inside the headset and on your TV. You can turn your TV off and then inside your headset you will see your game just not in VR. This is a great feature if you want to play a violent game without having your kids watch. To be clear though you can only use the PlayStation for one thing at a time, meaning you cant play a game while your friend watches Netflix.

Play Station VR

Since headsets can be fairly isolating you can also choose to keep your TV on. This way if you are gaming and you want other people in the room to see what you are seeing, you just broadcast the VR onto your TV.

PSVR Features The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift Don’t Have

On the headset cable about half way down the cord there is an inline remote with buttons for volume, power, and a microphone. Headphones are not built into this headset, but the remote has a headphone jack which means you can use the ear buds that come with the PSVR or you can use headphones you already own. Having your headphones plugged into the remote seems is pretty convenient and will help you move around more organically. You can use wireless headphones on you console and get stereo sound, but the only way to get surround sounds is to plug a pair into the headphone jack on the remote.

Its “Sort of” Plug in and Play

As a console gamer we are so used to literally plug in and play, but with PlayStation VR there is a bit more to it than that. The headset does not connect directly to the console, instead it connects to a processor unit that mixes the surround sound audio and bridges the video gap between the PSVR and your television. The processor box plugs into your wall and an HDMI port from you TV, then it connects to your console with a HDMI cable and a Micro USB cable. The PlayStation Camera plugs into your PS4 and then lastly the VR headset connects to the processor box. If this sounds like a mess…that’s because it is!

Parts for Play Station Virtual Reality System

If my description above sounds a bit complicated, don’t panic its almost impossible to screw it up and there is a good set of directions. You also don’t need to download any software or drivers, but there will be a few updates the first time you plug it in. When you see the first screen its more like just having a huge flat screen television in from of you and to get into VR you need to launch a game.

“On the whole the system is very user friendly and will be a great multi purpose entertainment device”

PlayStation Virtual Reality Games

There about 30 titles launching with the Sony VR device and a few more scheduled to launch before the close of 2016. On the whole there is a balanced mix of games that utilize Move controllers, dual shock controllers, and move-only games. For games that use Move controllers, for all of the issues they have, when they work well gaming can be pretty fun. technically you can play almost all the games with your gamepad, but the only problem is that it has limited tracking capabilities. I think one thing to bear on mind though is that despite the variety of games there may only be one or two games that fall into a genre that you actually like.

PlayStation Move Controllers

For the most part the most heart pounding PlayStaion VR titles are the VR racing games. At launch you get DriveClub VR, but you also have Gran Turismo Sport and the VR version of WRC 6 coming in 2017. While you can play these games with a gamepad, they are 1000X better with a full racing wheel and cockpit setup.

Drive Club VR

BEST RACING WHEEL FOR DRIVECLUB VR

Pros vs Cons

Pros

  • Super Comfortable
  • Most affordable compared to market
  • Well balanced set of launch titles

Cons

  • Motion Controls are sub par
  • You need more than the headset to hook it all up
  • Still needs a blockbuster title

PS VR Review Wrap Up – Is It Worth It?

The Playstation VR experience is pretty solid and I must say I am impressed for the price. I can’t say that I would go out and buy it just to play any particular game, but it did curb my curiosity about the VR medium as a whole. There is a nice balance of games, with the racing titles being the most immersive, and the headset is comfortable to wear. Even for it’s handful of flaws like the motion controllers it’s not enough for me to say don’t get it. It does cost a bit more than a console, but I think that is to be expected as we are getting into the next gen of gaming and VR is here to stay.

Overtime I would imagine PSVR will turn into cable free headsets with higher resolution and better motion detection, but those developments still maybe some time away. This device seems to be a beta test for Sony to put a virtual reality product to market and see how consumers take to it. For now the games are serviceable and while they are developed decently they dont have extremely deep content and seem to teter out just when things are getting good.

“PSVR is a ton of fun and it will introduce you to an entire new gaming experience you have been dreaming about since you were a kid”
If you are trying to wait for VR perfection, then you may be waiting for a long time. I think we still have some years before this technology is perfected and completely maximized, by the developers. I would say the PSVR is a great representation of the best you can get right now at an affordable price and that to me is enough to justify a purchase.

PSRP 4.0
Buy Now

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What are your thoughts on the PlayStation VR? Let me know in the comments below.

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