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Sony PlayStation VR (PSVR) Review

What Else Is In The Box?

The Playstation VR HMD is available two ways. First, Sony offers it as a standalone purchase for $399, which is perfect for gamers who already have Move controllers and a PlayStation camera at home. The basic PSVR package includes the HMD and everything you need to hook it up to your PlayStation 4, and that's all. A PlayStation camera on its own sets you back an additional $60. 

If you don’t have the camera and you want Move controllers, Sony offers a bundle for $499 that includes everything you need to enjoy the full range of PSVR experiences. 

The Processor Box

The PSVR kit also includes a device that Sony calls the Processor Box. Don't let the name fool you, though. The processor box isn’t an external GPU enclosure, and it doesn’t include an extra CPU to help with the VR workload. When we spoke with Richard Marks last year, we asked him to clarify this box's purpose. Marks explained that the PS4 processes the image displayed in the HMD. The box takes that warped image and converts it to an unwarped 1080p output for your TV screen.

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Up front, the processor box features an HDMI port and a data port for the headset cable, along with an LED that indicates the processor box’s status. The light is red when the box is connected to power, but the PS4 is off. The light turns white when you turn the PS4 on, but the PSVR headset is off or unplugged. The light turns blue when you power on the headset.

Around back, the box exposes an AC power connection, a micro-USB interface, HDMI in, and HDMI out ports.

What Do You Get With The Bundle?

Again, the bundle includes everything you get with Sony's basic package, plus a pair of Move controllers and the PlayStation camera.

The Move controllers aren’t new. Sony introduced them in 2010 for the PlayStation 3, and the design is no different today. Developer support for the Move controllers didn't take off the way Sony wanted, despite its decision to carry Move support over to the PS4. We now know that Sony didn’t need developer support in 2013. The company was simply laying a foundation for PSVR by adding the technology to PS4.

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Sony didn’t change the controllers, but it did improve the camera that tracks them. The PlayStation camera for PS4 is a depth-sensing stereo device that improves tracking accuracy compared to the PS3’s PlayStation Eye single-camera system. If you haven’t used Move controllers since the PS3 days, set your preconceived notions aside. The tracking isn’t perfect, but it’s probably better than you remember.

Bringing Back The Demo Disc

In the days of the original PlayStation, developers used to share parts of their games for free to let prospective customers try before they bought. These days, demos are few and far between. But virtual reality appears to be bringing the old trend back to life.

Both PlayStation VR packages include a bundled demo disc that features a collection of different experiences. The disc includes short trials of EVE: Valkyrie, Battlezone, Headmaster, DriveClub VR, Job Simulator, and more than a dozen other VR titles. Thanks to the demo disc, you don’t have to worry about wasting money on a game that may make you sick.

Sony even includes a copy of PlayStation VR Worlds with every PSVR bundle, which includes a street luge game, an undersea shark cage experience, and the famous London Heist.

Box Contents

PSVR Base PackagePSVR Complete Bundle
HardwarePSVR HMD with integrated mic, in-line control boxPSVR HMD with integrated mic, in-line control box
PSVR Processor BoxPSVR Processor Box
PlayStation Camera
Cables10-foot, 2-in-1 cable extension (HDMI 1.3/proprietary)10-foot, 2-in-1 cable extension (HDMI 1.3/proprietary)
Micro-USB cableMicro-USB cable
HDMI cableHDMI cable
AC power cordAC power cord
AC power adapterAC power adapter
ControlsPlayStation Move controller x2
Mini-USB cable x2
MiscellaneousCleaning clothCleaning cloth
Bundled SoftwarePlayStation VR demo discPlayStation VR demo disc
PlayStation VR Worlds
  • blackmagnum
    Sony going after the affordable market? You've got to be kidding me! What's Apple say on this?
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Thanks for the thorough review, Kevin. Is OSVR's HDK2 in your queue? I understand it has display tech similar to PSVR's, but with the same pixel resolution as Rift & Vive.

    If I buy PSVR, I'd wait for PS4 Pro to get updated so the breakout box is unnecessary. They should've just put the PSVR ports right on the front of it. Then, sell me the whole kit in one box.

    As for the lack of room scale, it's hardly surprising, if they're just using the stereo camera for tracking. It has to be able to see the controllers, which it can't do if your body is in the way. Even if they have built-in IMUs, those will drift without periodic registration with the camera.

    Finally, I'm impressed that it can send different images to the HMD and TV. Although this will only add to the burden on the PS4's GPU, it's a nice feature. Reminds me of the Wii U, a bit. I don't own one, but saw a couple games make good use of the private view afforded by the tablet.
    Reply
  • Dosflores
    19196429 said:
    Finally, I'm impressed that it can send different images to the HMD and TV. Although this will only add to the burden on the PS4's GPU, it's a nice feature.

    It doesn't necessarily add burden on the GPU. It's only needed for "social gaming", and that kind of games can live without great graphics. For "standard games", the breakout box simply undistorts the image being sent to the HMD, and outputs the result to the TV.

    You're right about the PS4 Pro. It should have included the PSVR ports, and not only to reduce clutter. The PS4 Pro supports HDR output (and the standard PS4 now does it too), but the breakout box doesn't. If you want HDR output to your TV, you have to disconnect the breakout box and connect the PS4 directly to the TV. If you want to play some VR game again, you have to disconnect the TV and connect the PS4 to the breakout box again. This design flaw is enough to convince me not to buy PSVR until the next update of either the PS4 Pro or the PSVR system.
    Reply
  • cknobman
    You did not touch on the actual gaming experience very much.

    I read and watched a few game experiences and reviews using PSVR and the biggest complaint that was due to how low the processing power was of the PS4 they had to really really compromise on the graphics.

    The graphics of the VR games on PS4 were absolutely terrible including missing/no textures lots of things just not rendered period and low res up-sampled.
    Reply
  • Agente Silva
    Born Dead...
    Reply
  • Agente Silva
    ... and I´ll explain why:

    1. In an era where game developers are heading into unified platforms it will be very hard to see proper games (instead of "experiences").

    2. Gamers don´t want to have a strapped screen to their face.

    3. Enthusiasts won´t spend 500$ on something that doesn´t display AAA games (not even mentioning mainstream).

    4. For the mainstream this is a showroom equipement.
    Reply
  • Jeff Fx
    >Premium-grade virtual reality demands more performance than you would expect a PS4 could provide

    Yes it does.

    >, but Sony pulls it off.

    No, this is PSVR, which is far from a premium VR experience.
    They can't deliver the tracking accuracy or video quality of a premium VR system.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    19196429 said:
    Thanks for the thorough review, Kevin. Is OSVR's HDK2 in your queue? I understand it has display tech similar to PSVR's, but with the same pixel resolution as Rift & Vive.

    If I buy PSVR, I'd wait for PS4 Pro to get updated so the breakout box is unnecessary. They should've just put the PSVR ports right on the front of it. Then, sell me the whole kit in one box.

    As for the lack of room scale, it's hardly surprising, if they're just using the stereo camera for tracking. It has to be able to see the controllers, which it can't do if your body is in the way. Even if they have built-in IMUs, those will drift without periodic registration with the camera.

    Finally, I'm impressed that it can send different images to the HMD and TV. Although this will only add to the burden on the PS4's GPU, it's a nice feature. Reminds me of the Wii U, a bit. I don't own one, but saw a couple games make good use of the private view afforded by the tablet.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the review. OSVR HDK2 is on my list. I hope to have a review sample in the near future.

    I was also suprised/impressed that it could do social screen gaming when I first hear about it. Check out my interview with Richard Marks (linked in the review) for more insight on that.

    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    19198130 said:
    You did not touch on the actual gaming experience very much.

    I read and watched a few game experiences and reviews using PSVR and the biggest complaint that was due to how low the processing power was of the PS4 they had to really really compromise on the graphics.

    The graphics of the VR games on PS4 were absolutely terrible including missing/no textures lots of things just not rendered period and low res up-sampled.

    I wrote the review before the PS4 Pro launched but it was delayed due to the Rift review, holiday break, and CES. At the time of writing the review, I hadn't had a chance to try many games. Sony didn't provide us a review sample, so I purchased all the games that I have.

    I've since updated to the PS4 Pro and picked up a number of games. Watch for follow-up content about some games soon.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    19198536 said:
    ... and I´ll explain why:

    1. In an era where game developers are heading into unified platforms it will be very hard to see proper games (instead of "experiences").


    Care to elaborate? I'm not following your logic here.
    Unity and Unreal make it easy for developers to support Oculus, SteamVR, and PSVR with minimal effort.

    19198536 said:
    2. Gamers don´t want to have a strapped screen to their face.


    That's an incredibly generalzed, and ill-informed statement. Sony stated it sold "many hundred of thousands" of PSVR headsets upon release and the hardware has been in high demand to the point where Sony has not been able to keep up with demand. Its sold out practically everywhere.

    In my experience, after showing over 3000 people VR hardware, people think they don't want to strap on a screen until they try it, and then they want one of thier own.

    19198536 said:
    3. Enthusiasts won´t spend 500$ on something that doesn´t display AAA games (not even mentioning mainstream).

    Resident Evil 7 drops tomorrow with full VR support start to finish.
    Robinson: The Journey is easily a AAA title.

    AAA titles are coming. It takes time to make AAA games, though. Many games take 2 to 3 years or more to develop. Sony hasn't had developer kits of PSVR out in the wild for that long.


    19198536 said:
    4. For the mainstream this is a showroom equipement.

    Yup. That's how new technology launches.
    When CDs hit the market in the 80s, DVD players were thousands of dollars.
    When PCs hit the market, they were well over $5000
    When Cell Phones came to market, they were thousands of dollars with no subsidies.

    I could go on and on and on all day long about new technologies launching at crazy prices.
    Early adopters always pay a higher price to be first in line. As units sell in higher and higher volume, manufacturing costs come down, which leads to lower consumer price tags.

    VR hardware won't always be $500.

    Reply