Many experts have dubbed 2017 as the year of Virtual Reality and it will certainly be off to a rocking start with the wildly popular Sony’s PlayStation VR. Sony couldn’t keep enough in stock to meet the demand for Christmas but restocking should get them off in a grand manner for 2017.
The attraction of the PlayStation VR is that it gives the millions of PlayStation 4 owners a fairly inexpensive way to get into virtual reality as well as to play some great new games.
The PlayStation VR is composed of the control box, a shiny white goggle headset and a set of black earphones. Everything that touches your face and ears is nicely padded. The glossy white headset has a cut-out design that gives it a nice updated appearance. It is quite good-looking in comparison to other virtual reality headsets.
The built-in OLED 1080p screen has separate lenses, one for each eye. It also has built-in motion sensors that can read your head movements. Some simple games can be played with only head motions.
The PS VR’s refresh rate is listed as 90 to 120 Hertz, comparable with several other high end virtual reality devices. This is especially important in preventing motion sickness. Sensors include a six-axis sensing system which includes a three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis accelerometer. You can view the full specifications at the PlayStation VR website.
This is a virtual reality gadget made for gamers. You must have a PlayStation 4 console and a PlayStation camera to make it work. Wires connect everything and the setup is not exactly easy. Set up involves connecting seven different plugs. Then you must adjust the camera so it is pointed perfectly and adjust the headset so that your eyes are positioned properly. You may also have to update the software for both the game console and the headset. Like the several other VR devices on the market, you will find these devices are far from wireless and you must always be careful to not trip on or otherwise disconnect the cables.
The PlayStation VR’s main competitors, the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, both need expensive computers to make them work. If you already own the PlayStation 4, the entry price for this system is much less. However, it is still not cheap. The unit with headset will set you back $399.
Over 30 games were available at launch. Over the years Sony has made alliances with many different game manufacturers, so you can expect many more games will be available quite quickly. Be aware that some of these games will play the best with additional devices. For instance, the really cool Batman Arkham VR needs the Move Motion Controllers to make the most of the game.
What you experience with any VR device is an individual perception. I found that the display reacted instantly when I moved my head giving me an immersive 360 degree surround experience. The audio was excellent.
Even though the PlayStation VR has a high-definition screen, it often seemed to me to be slightly blurry. It had a 3-D-like juxtaposition. Of course adjusting the headset could make the picture better, but I could never get it to look as clear as a 1080P TV.
I was unable to play for any length of time without having my head start pounding or getting a bit nauseous. For the record, I must state that 3D TV also gives me a headache. Again, susceptibility to these effect is an individual thing.
Motion sickness can set in because you are sitting still while the room is moving around you. There is a certain disconnect because your brain thinks you are moving when you are really sitting still. This happens with most virtual reality experiences. It will be interesting to see if and how future devices will be able to create technology to overcome these drawbacks.
What the PlayStation VR does offer is true immersion in the games. The Samsung Gear and other virtual reality devices that rely on cell phones for their power fall far short in comparison. Whether you are viewing an explosion or shooting a gun, the experience is much more exciting than on previous gaming devices. Adding the processing power of the VR controller to the Play Station 4 device makes a huge difference in the virtual reality experience.
Playing a VR game on the PlayStation VR really makes you feel that you are a part of the game. You can also use your VR setup to play many older non-VR PlayStation games. The PlayStation VR adds a cinematic effect to older games. Since this is a gaming device, you will find that these are no non-gaming applications currently available. I would hope that this might change in the future. Although I realize that Sony’s focus with this device will always be gaming.
We are still in the early stages of virtual reality. Sony, however, has found a way to get their gamers excited. Users can easily get hooked on virtual reality at a reasonable price. This may be the first step in mass acceptance of virtual reality.