The Sony Playstation VR Review

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playstation vr review

Sony brought lots of excitement to its users when it brought the VR experience to its Playstation platform in October 2016. The Sony PSVR has been billed as the VR console for the user on a budget. And so today we shall take apart the Sony PSVR and do a comprehensive PlayStation VR review to determine its pros and cons, and help you decide whether you should get one for yourself or not.

Specs

Product NamePlayStation®VR
Release DateOctober 13, 2016
Display TypeOLED
Display Size5.7 inches
Resolution1920×RGB×1080 (960×RGB×1080 per eye)
Refresh Rate120Hz, 90Hz
Field of ViewApproximately 100 degrees
SensorsThree-axis gyroscope
Three-axis accelerometer
ConnectionVR headset: HDMI, AUX, Stereo Headphone Jack
Processor unit: HDMI TV, HDMI PS4, USB, HDMI, AUX
DimensionsVR headset: Approx. 187×185×277 mm
Processor unit: Approx. 143×36×143 mm
MassVR headset: Approx. 610g
Processor unit: Approx. 365g
IncludedVR headset × 1
Processor unit × 1
VR headset connection cable × 1
HDMI cable × 1
USB cable × 1
Stereo headphones × 1 (with a complete set of earpiece)
AC power cord × 1
AC adaptor × 1

Overview

Sony PlayStation aficionados who had been waiting with bated breath were elated when the Sony PlayStation VR was finally released in October 2016. The Sony PlayStation VR retails in two varieties.

  • The first variety is the basic PlayStation VR package that only includes the PlayStation VR system, headphones, and all the required cabling.
  • The alternative is the more comprehensive package, the PlayStation VR Launch Bundle, which comes with the PlayStation VR system, PlayStation Camera, two Move Motion Controllers, and a PlayStation VR World copy.

The second bundle is suitable if you don’t already have the Move Motion Controllers or the PlayStation 4 Camera. With this package also comes one of the best games which has been developed for the platform, PlayStation VR World, which you get for free.

The Sony PlayStation VR comes with a 5.7-inch OLED Screen, resolution of 960xRGBx1080 per eye, a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz (which is higher than that of both the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift), 100-degree field of view, and integrated gyroscopes, microphones and accelerometer. To get going, all you need is the PS VR unit, the PlayStation Camera, the DualShock controllers, and a PlayStation 4 console.

With the PS4 console, you have three options. These are the three-year-old version of the console, the Slim version that was released recently, or the PS4 Pro, which is stronger than the other two consoles. As a bonus, we also recommend a play space that is well lit, though not too brightly lit. The typical dimensions of the play space should be 6×10 feet.

We also found the setup of the PSVR to be easy as cake, and we even think it sounds harder than the actual installation process is. In the box you receive, there is the VR headset, an HDMI cable, a processor unit, a pair of in-ear headphones, instruction manuals, a demo disc, a cleaning cloth for the lenses, and all the requisite power cables. A lot of them, by the way!

The setup process mostly involved connecting a bunch of HDMI cables originating from the PS4 to the PlayStation VR processing unit, and then onwards to the VR headset itself. The processing unit does not add any power to the console, and developers do not currently have the capability to program it. However, it handles a few key functions.

The first is that it help conduct object-based 3D audio processing. This translates to you being able to locate exactly where noises emanate from in games. The processing unit also renders the image you are viewing in VR onto the television, though it does this at a lower framerate and resolution. Lastly, the processing unit displays the normal PS4 screen in cinema mode, allowing you to watch movies or play non-virtual reality games on a display equal in size to a movie theater screen.

From our experience with the setup process, we have two tips that shall ensure that you have the best VR experience post-setup. Firstly, as you are conducting the setup, go to Setting > Devices > PSVR > Measure Eye to Eye Distance. Ensure that you are 70 centimeters away from the camera as you conduct the setup. This might sound like an unnecessary step, but trust us, doing it this way shall go a long way in avoiding blurry vision as you are playing.

Secondly, after you are done with the quick calibration, head over to VR Options under the PS4 Setting menu and do the detailed calibration. This shall help with the immersion, and ensure that your setup is perfect.

Design and Ergonomics

This area is one where the PlayStation VR beats the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift proper. Even just by looking at the three headsets, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift look more like advanced prototypes as opposed to properly designed headsets. On the other hand, the PlayStation VR seems to be a properly designed piece of tech that any potential user would love to own. Everything looks classy, from the slick white edging to the beautifully designed lights which enable motion tracking.

Unlike the competing headset, you don’t use Velcro to fasten the headset to your face. In place of Velcro is a button on the rear end of the headset which you press to stretch out a plastic band, put it over your head, and it “automagically” adjusts to ensure the best fit. If at all you feel the headset is still a little bit loose, you can turn a plastic dial to tighten it more The primary reason why the headset feels so comfy is that you never feel like the headset is gripping any part of your head. Additionally, the weight of the headset is distributed evenly between the front and rear part of your head. Finally, the Sony PSVR scores a major one against its competitors by being perfect for use with glasses on

Hardware and Controls

Hardware And Controls One of the obvious advantages of the Sony Playstation VR is that it is not an entirely new gadget to users, especially those who have already been part of the PlayStation platform before. For example, if you own a DualShock 4 Controller with a PlayStation 4 you are almost already set for the PlayStation VR. It is estimated that Sony already has about 40 million PS4 consoles, which means that a population approximately equal to that of Spain owns part of the Sony PSVR setup.

This means that setting up the Sony PlayStation VR is a cinch as compared to the other VR consoles which are entirely new to the user. The Sony PlayStation VR works with either the PS4 or the newer PS4 Pro. The primary difference between the two consoles is the resolution. The maximum resolution on the PS4 console is 1080p, while the newer PS4 Pro console can support up to 2160p, commonly referred to as 4K.

However, current games shall need to have a ‘Pro Mode’ to be able to take advantage of the PS4 Pro’s more advanced features. The PS4 Pro also comes with a standard 1TB storage and an extra USB port.

The PS4 Pro also comes with improved processing via more powerful CPUs and GPU’s. The PS4 Pro comes with a 2.1GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU as compared to the 1.6GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU on the PS4. The GPU on the PS4 Pro is 4.2 TFLOP AMD Radeon as compared to the 1.84 TFLOP AMD Radeon GPU on the 2016 PS4.

A review of hardware and controls would be incomplete without a look at controllers. The Move Motion controllers are an excellent addition to the package as the enable one to use their hands in VR games.

The Move Motion controllers are not, however, new to consumers as compared to the Oculus Touch and the HTC Vive controllers.

The Move Motion controllers do a decent job in tracking, but their abilities do not quite match those of the Oculus Touch and the HTC Vive controllers because of the use older tracking technology. At present, the best-regarded controllers are without a doubt the VR controllers for the HTC Vive.

One of the reasons the Move Motion controllers lag behind the other controllers in ratings is that they have more latency, which makes movement tracking less responsive and more inaccurate. The Move Motion controllers also do not have the capability to articulate the fingers, a feature which is well implemented in the Oculus Touch controllers.

Games

This point ties a bit to the familiarity aspect of the Sony PSVR. Sony has a long and illustrious history with the PlayStation platform. This history gives it distinct advantages in the development of the PSVR and accompanying content because the company has built an excellent brand with consumers as well as having created great working relationships with partners such as game publishers. It is therefore much easier to convince more users to come on board due to the influence of past PlayStation customers.

But most importantly, Sony has built a rich pool of content partners who have been working to create great content for PSVR customers. This development has lead to a steady outflow of game titles for consumers, which makes purchasing a PSVR a worthy endeavor for a consumer. The presence of a large variety of quality games for the Sony PlayStation VR headset more than makes up for the headset’s technical inferiority to the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.

When the headset was released in October 2016, Sony announced that 80 game titles would be available to consumers at launch and soon after launch. The variety of titles is impressive and is sure to appeal to a large chunk of the PlayStation fanbase. Some of the big releases you can find below.

Eve ValkyrieBatman Arkham VRRIGS Mechanized Combat LeagueUntil Dawn Rush of BloodBattlezone
Resident Evil 7 BiohazardDriveclub VRWorldsEagle FlightRobinson The Journey

Inaccurate Tracking

By far the most disconcerting thing about using the PlayStation VR is that the tracking by the Move Motion controllers is inexcusably inaccurate. Whenever we were playing a game that utilized the Move Motion controllers, all of us found that a look down at our virtual hands was disappointing because the hands were shaking and drifting back and forth for no particular reason. As you would guess, each of us would remove the headset and have a quick glance at our hand, the Move Motion controllers, and the cameras only to find that the hands and controllers were motionless and the camera was correctly set. The clear verdict is that the tracking is just plain terrible.

One other side effect of the inaccurate tracking is motion sickness. Motion sickness is especially bad because it is not something that the player can influence since the tracking is beyond their control. Motion sickness has always been the big elephant in the room with VR consumers, and its presence in the Sony PlayStation VR could discourage even more users from buying the gadget.

Some people have told us that our discontentment with the Sony Move Motion controller tracking stems from our having already experienced the more superior tracking in the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.

They argue that rookies to the VR experience would be so awed by the VR experience that they wouldn’t even notice the terrible tracking in the Sony PSVR. Well, that’s beside the point and did not contribute to our thought process.

We simply compared the Sony PSVR’s tracking with, wait for it, real life. Our brains and eyes know what they should expect from the movement of our hands, and this deviation from ‘real life tracking’ does the Sony PSVR a great disfavor. It seems to us that Sony chose to cut costs and went for legacy tracking hardware from the era of the Nintendo Wii, which came with disastrous results.

A good example here is the game Job Simulator, ported over from the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which is a great game that is otherwise messed up by the PlayStation VR’s terrible tracking. A consumer who experiences such terrible tracking in such a great game (available on the Vive and Rift no less) would be reasonably expected to the Rift or Vive, which would be terrible for Sony’s PSVR business.

Display Quality

The display of the Sony PlayStation VR is the most inferior in quality among the three mainstream VR headsets. The PSVR utilizes a 5.7-inch, 1080p OLED screen as opposed to 960×1080 resolution per eye on the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. That said, the good thing is that you would not notice a big difference unless you had all the three headsets together.

There are certainly instances when the lower display quality shows, for example, the “screen-door” effect is quite apparent in low lighting.

The PSVR is also inferior as compared to its rivals because details become blurry at a distance. For example, we noticed that when we were playing the Battlezone game, a group of tanks in the distance blurs into a wash of color. We also noticed that characters’ faced lack detail while playing The London Heist. The are the few instances during which we wished we were using the Rift or the Vive.

Verdict

Having covered a bunch of pros and cons of the PSVR, this Sony PlayStation VR review would be incomplete without giving our verdict on the gadget.

We think that most consumers who shall be buying the Sony PlayStation VR shall choose it for the value. The reason for this is that they get a decent virtual reality headset at a great price point, with the added possible advantage of the headset’s compatibility with equipment that they already own.

What we worry about the most, though, is the tracking problems. It is worth noting that this is a lower level problem which cannot be solved by gamers but can only be solved by Sony’s technical team.

Overall, we think that the Sony PSVR is a great device whose pros overweigh its cons by a large margin. We, therefore, recommend the gadget to all consumers who are seeking a medium range device at a good price point.

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