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Sony PlayStation VR (PSVR) Review

System Requirements & Setup Procedure

The PSVR HMD interfaces directly with the PlayStation 4 console, and the PlayStation operating system automatically detects when the HMD is present. Sony made sure that using a PSVR is as simple as any other PlayStation peripheral or game.

The most intimidating part of using a PSVR is its initial setup. The package includes several components, and at first glance you might think setup is going to be complicated, but Sony simplifies the process as much as possible. Each component is labeled with a clearly marked number that denotes the order in which everything gets plugged in.

First remove the HDMI cable between your PS4 and TV and plug it into the PSVR’s breakout box. Then connect the box to the TV with a second HDMI cable (included with the PSVR).

In step two, you plug a bundled USB cable into the back of the processor unit, and then into a free USB port on the PS4. Sony didn’t build a USB port into the back of its original PS4, so you'll have to make that connection up front. The PS4 Pro includes one USB 3.0 port on the rear to better accommodate a PSVR headset.

Step three is simple: plug the processor unit into a free power outlet.

Once you have the breakout box set up as a pass-through for the PS4’s video connection, you’ll want to plug the extension cable into the front of the breakout box. Slide the cover back to expose two front-facing ports. Plug the cable in and slide the top back into place, securing the cables.

Before you can start using the PSVR, you have to configure the PlayStation camera so that the PS4 can track the HMD (and Move controllers, if you have them). The setup routine lets you place the camera wherever you want, but we found that tracking works best when the camera is elevated. At first, we put it on the TV's stand, but we eventually set it on top of the TV for better performance.

You can now power up the PSVR HMD to start calibrating it.

Prepare Your Space For VR

The designated play area for PSVR is smaller than the space you need for room-scale VR with the Vive, but it’s larger than the minimum space necessary for seated and standing experiences with the Rift.

Sony recommends clearing a space larger than the tracking area, which is 6.2 feet wide and 9.8 feet deep. The camera can’t read the headset or controllers at a range closer than two feet, leaving you with 6.2x7.2 feet of usable space. The play area gets narrower as you approach the camera, though. Two feet away, the play space is 2.3 feet wide.

Most of the games for PSVR are seated experiences, so you don’t want to clear the tracking space completely. Move coffee tables and fragile objects within arm-swinging distance, but make sure you have a couch or chair to sit on. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have room to stand in front of your seat without getting too close to the camera.

Simplistic Software Setup Splendor

The PSVR's software setup procedure couldn't be any easier. Simply power on your PS4 with the HMD plugged in. Once the system boots up, turn on the PSVR headset. The PS4 automatically detects it and begins downloading whatever drivers it needs. 

The system will reboot during the install process. Just sit back and relax for a few minutes.

Calibration Demands A Steady Hand

Calibration isn't difficult per se, but it can be frustrating. You must hold the headset steady at several different angles. The software tells you which LEDs the camera needs to see, and you have to mimic that position for five seconds. The calibration includes poses for the front, both sides, and back of the headset.

Digital IPD Adjustment

The PSVR headset doesn’t include a mechanical IPD adjustment, but there is a way to calibrate the experience for your pupil distance through Sony's software, which features a digital IPD adjustment system.

The option to calibrate your eye distance is nestled deep in the PS4 settings menu. From there, open the Devices menu, and then open the PlayStation VR menu. There you’ll find “Measure Eye-to-Eye Distance.” Sony uses its stereoscopic PlayStation camera to measure the distance between your two eyes, and then applies that information to calibrate the PSVR's stereoscopic image.

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To calibrate your eyes, you must sit or stand approximately two feet in front of the PlayStation camera. Line your head up with two boxes on the screen (one from each lens) and snap a picture of your face with the camera. Next, you’ll be asked to pinpoint the center of your eyes on each image.

The software uses your input to establish an “eye-to-eye” measurement. Sony warns that this figure is only for the PSVR. A more precise IPD reading requires the expertise of an optometrist.

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.