PlayStation VR Review

PlayStation VR Review

Playstation VR

Standalone $399.99
Playstation VR
7.5

Overall Rating

8/10

    Pros

    • Virtual Reality (VR) takes PlayStation 4 gaming, experiences, and entertainment to a whole new level
    • A compelling price-performance value for low to medium end VR activity
    • Tron-like VR headset enhances your experiences with its futuristic appeal, lightweight, comfort, and ease of use
    • Top level 120 Hz refresh rate beats 90 Hz rate of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive systems
    • Upcoming AIM controller for shooter games/experiences seems like a possible best-in-class device
    • 230 developers making games, experiences, and entertainment for the PSVR
    • Easy set up and configuration for PC gamers & most Windows users

    Cons

    • Image clarity and sound quality currently are no match for the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, but they get the job done
    • 100-degree Field of View (FoV) is 10+/- degrees less than the 110-degrees FoV
    • 100-degree Field of View (FoV) is 10+/- degrees less than the 110-degrees FoV offered by both HTV Vive and Oculus Rift
    • Headset design may not fit flush to sides of many people’s heads, thus letting in some marginal amount of ‘light seep’
    • Sony’s relatively “closed ecosystem” for the Playstation runs counter to the mounting global trend of more open software development communities
    • No integrated headphones – a glaring miss considering Sony is implementing 3D directional “spatial audio” on its VR platform
    • Positional tracking is not in the same class as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but it’s good enough
    • No room-scale VR (cubicle-scale or couch-area-scale, yes)
    • Requires additional equipment to function

    VERDICT & RATING

    This review’s verdict on and rating of the Sony PlayStation VR system depends on which end of the VR user spectrum you now reside or are inclined to take.

    If you are an existing cubicle-, couch-, or swivel-chair centric console game player and you already have a PlayStation 4, then the PlayStation VR gets the nod as your best buy come October 2016 and earns a rating of 9.0 (1 to 10 scale, 10 best). It’s dubious if any company anywhere could have done a better job than Sony has done in cost effectively integrating appealing virtual reality technologies into a several year old game technology platform.

    If you are a potential newbie to the entire consumer electronics VR game, experience, and entertainment industry and you’ve got the bucks to invest for the near- to mid-term in the higher end systems that will really get your VR pony galloping, then the PlayStation VR earns a mere 7.0 relative to the visually richer and more immersive HTC Vive and Oculus Rift systems.

    As a rather free-roaming, room-scale VR unit, the PlayStation VR — relegated as it is to a very confined space around your cubicle or couch or swivel chair by relatively short wires and subpar positioning technologies compared to the high end VR systems – would earn a thumbs down and a rating of 5.5 compared to the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

    Considering its massive deployment potential to cost effectively introduce VR to tens of millions of gamers out there, and considering its likely future status as the very first billion-dollar VR platform, the Sony PlayStation VR gets an overall rating of 7.5.

    Rating of the Sony PlayStation VR:

    • 5 on a 1 to 10 scale (10 = best)
    • The expected upgrade to the well rumored PS4.5 NEO processing unit could bring this up to an 8.0
    • A simultaneous display upgrade with the rumored PS4.5 NEO processing unit to match the pixel richness of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift would earn an 8.5 rating

    OVERVIEW

    Life is often a carousel and thus the upcoming release of the Sony PlayStation VR once again confronts us with the issue of which new and disruptive gaming, experience, and entertainment technology platform to choose. Indeed, when new entertainment and gaming technology platforms arrive on the world scene, the old VHS v Betamax argument is inevitably thrown around by most of the above members of your family, work colleagues, and your posse.

    In order to allay any ‘first-mover’ butterflies you may have about shelling out hard earned bucks on the upcoming Sony PlayStation VR system, let’s drop some wallet sized dime assists on your way to the VR basket.

    Trusted reviews on PlayStation VRThe Sony PlayStation VR is the consumer electronics virtual reality (VR) device most likely to become the world’s first VR technology platform to break the billion dollar a year sales mark. In fact, it’s almost a sure thing, and you can flip a coin about its chances to break the billion-dollar mark by the end of this 2016 holiday season.

    I call “Heads” that it does just that before the stroke of midnight UTC December 31, 2016. That could mean some 2.4 million units sold worldwide (@USD399/unit MSRP) in just 11 weeks after its scheduled release on 13 October, 2016. Let’s hope the

    When the PlayStation 4 was released in mid-November 2013 and generated some 4.5 million unit sales in just shy of 7 weeks, it leveraged a global PlayStation 3 marketplace that had already amassed more than 72 million users. Sony sold a million PlayStation 4s before the end of its first 24 hours on sale.

    It’s a pretty good argument that the PlayStation VR is a similar gaming, experience, and entertainment technology upgrade that may leverage analogous consumer demand economics. Consider this. According to market research firm, Statista, 75% of video gamers in the United Kingdom use two displays (monitors) during play and almost half (47%) use three displays. That’s fairly hefty support for the notion that one-half to three-quarters of video gamers want an immersive experience. Aside from wallet issues, the video gamers in the UK aren’t much different than video gamers everywhere in terms of user experience (UX) profiles.

    Now, the PlayStation 4’s unit sales in those 7 holiday season weeks of 2013 were a 6% slice of the 72 million unit global market of devoted Sony PlayStation 3 users at that time. If the analogy holds, a 6% slice of today’s 40 million unit strong PlayStation 4 market would be 2.4 million units sold by the end of the this year, and if not, at least by the end of the first or second quarter of 2017.

    In fact, the PlayStation 4 reached 7.5 million units sold by the end of its first two quarters on the market. If the Sony PlayStation VR is just one-third as successful as its non-VR gaming experience predecessor, Sony can harvest the fruits of the world’s first billion dollar VR platform.

    So when you are ultimately confronted by your smart wallet, your family, your friends, and your colleagues about why you are investing hundreds of dollars and perhaps one to two dozen hours a week inside VR world spaces that reside within one to two meters or less of your couch, recliner chair, or swivel chair, just let them know politely and calmly and with some VR sweat of enthusiasm dripping off your brow, “It’s pure economics, baby, pure economics! I’m getting’ ahead of the crowd. What are you doing?”

    PERFORMANCE

    If you are a dedicated Sony PS4 gamer, you’re very likely not going to be disappointed at all with the performance of the PSVR system. Sure, you’re going to see some display pixelation and blurriness on occasion, especially with fast action in front of your eyes or when you are moving your head real fast, but overall the experience is surprisingly entertaining and visually impressive.

    The current immersive environment offered by the PSVR is not going to impress anyone inside the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift user communities. However, if it suits up to 40 million gamers with visually rich experiences that are simply not possible with straight vanilla PS4 units, then Sony’s not going to be crying to the bank.

     

    HEADSET

    Sony has been working on their PSVR headset for several years now, since Sony’s Project Morpheus was announced in 2014. However, Sony has a history of developing head-mounted technology. Their Glasstron technology was introduced in 1997. It allowed users to experience the visual environment inside the cockpit of the robotic Mech in the game, MechWarrior 2, enabling the game player to see the battlefield from the Mech’s pov.Huawei Watch Review

    Their first consumer HMD unit was the HMZ-T1, which they coined a personal 3D viewer when it launched in 2011. It hosted two 720p OLED displays and a near 40-degree field of view (FoV). Several more HMZ follow-on upgrade attempts to get a consumer HMD device to really take off sputtered.

    Here we are now, just shy of two decades after Sony first tried to develop and market a successful head-mounted display and two things jump out as rather obvious.

    First, the PSVR HMD to be released in October 2016 is almost a direct design descendent of the premature Glasstron unit and the more recent HMZ devices. The functional industrial design approach is remarkably similar, especially the forehead retainer and the design concept for the circular retention arms that hold the HMD against the back of the head.

    Second, it’s pretty apparent to anyone who has donned and used the current PSVR HMD that Sony finally got it right after two decades. Sony’s industrial designers and consumer electronics engineers shaved a lot of mass off the temporal sides of the old HMZ unit to bolster the VR viewing enclosure of the current model. Compared to the old HMZ series, the soon to be released head-mounted display unit has much better display technology. The PSVR sports a much more user friendly, safe, and comfortable configuration for the rear retention arm system in that helps the HMD stay in place against the back of your head.

    The mass and balance issues were addressed as well. The old HMZ unit suffered from way too much forward centric mass. The new PSVR headset is nicely balanced and only weighs 610 grams, excluding the cable dangling from the rear retention arm at the back of your head.

    Most promising reviews on PlayStation VRUsing current state-of-the-art technologies, the PSVR camera can track the X-Y-Z position of the PSVR headset at up to 1,000 times per second by tracking nine LED lights integrated into strategic locations on the exterior surfaces of the headset. You can turn your head 360 degrees around and look up and look down, even to the point where you laugh a bit at yourself because you don’t see your legs, but you know you’re looking in the direction of your non-VR and very real human legs.

    The message here is quite clear to the marketplace. Sony is not a company that came up with a Kickstarter project a few years ago to make a new VR headset that launched version 2.0 of the VR craze — v1.0 largely started by Jaron Lanier failed. Sony has two decades of core competence in such head mounted displays.

    It also must be noted that Sony has pretty much nailed a gorgeous and highly functional headset for the long haul of the VR industry v2.0. Consider this like you would the sexy chassis of a Corvette that can be upgraded anytime in future model years – with improved engines and lighter weight materials to enable a better horsepower to weight ratio – a much better performing car.

    As the VR industry matures with advancing technologies, Sony can easily upgrade its sporty new Corvette of a headset with the then latest and greatest display and sensor and ultra light materials technologies.

    If I were Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, I’d be pretty nervous about a deep pocketed company presiding over 40 million game station users who can incorporate the best future technologies into their best-in-class headset design anytime they want

    It shows. Once you start experiencing VR world spaces with this HMD on your noggin’, you barely notice it’s there.

    FIELD OF VIEW

    The Sony PSVR headset offers the user a respectable 100-degree field of view, slightly less than the 110-degree FoV presented in the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, and less than half the FoV of some of the new headset technologies. This is early days in VR, so look for Sony to expand this FoV when the PSVR 2 and 3 come out in the years ahead.

    TRACKING AREA

    The PSVR camera and the headset’s internal sensors help track your head movements in your own 3D physical space in order to translate those movements into artificially constructed movements in the 3D virtual reality world space you experience with the headset on. The PSVR system allows you to take three small to moderate steps in any direction, as long as you are not maxing out the cable that tethers you to the system box. This is pretty humble compared to the room-scale, 5m x 5m or so tracking area offered by the HTC Vive and the small office or cubicle-sized tracking area the Oculus Rift allows.Trusted reviews on PlayStation VR

    SPECS

    playstationvrspecs1

    PRICING, PACKAGED CONTENTS, AND AVAILABILITY

    The MSRP for the Sony PlayStation VR system is set to launch for USD399 and it will generally be available starting October 13, 2016. Note that the PlayStation 4 console, the PlayStation Camera, and the Playstation VR software are all sold separately.

    Product launch bundles are available at various retailers for USD499.99, which includes the VR headset, the processor unit, the VR headset connection cable, an HDMI cable, stereo headphones, an AC power cord and AC adaptor, a PlayStation VR Demo Disc, the PlayStation Camera, two (2) PlayStation Move motion controllers, and a PlayStation VR Wolds Game Disc.

    CONCLUSION

    Whether or not you jump into the shallow end or the deep end of the VR pool or choose to sit it out for now and bath in the electroluminescent Tron-esque LED light beaming off your friends’ PSVR headsets, know this. Sony has nailed the VR headset design and technology to eventually make Sony’s PlayStation VR experience rise above those of the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.  The PSVR may only be 1 to 2 product generations away and could achieve this in the next 2 to 3 years. And Sony has deep pockets to continue to enhance their VR system.

    So if you’re currently on the sideline hoping for some sort of signal about whether to choose the reincarnation of the VHS versus Betamax purchase decision, you need not worry too much about whether Sony is going to be a very successful global player in the consumer electronics virtual reality industry.


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