PlayStation VR review | A great virtual reality experience
Sony’s PlayStation VR headset has been a talking point ever since it was first revealed in 2014, boasting the ability to provide a great VR experience without the need for a high-end PC. In fact, the PlayStation VR headset is compatible with any of the 44 million PS4s around the world, according to the company, along with the newly redesigned PS4 and of course, the PS4 Pro. After over two years of waiting, the PlayStation VR headset is finally here. I’ve spent some time with Sony’s PlayStation VR, and here’s what I experienced. Also see: HTC Vive review
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PlayStation VR UK pricing and availability: How much does the PlayStation VR headset cost?
After years of secrecy, Sony announced earlier in 2016 that the PlayStation VR headset would be available to buy around the world from 13 October 2016. That date has come and gone, and the VR headset is now readily available to buy from several retailers – although demand is high.
During the PlayStation VR event at GDC 2016, Sony CEO Andrew House announced that the PlayStation VR headset will set gamers back £349, £200 less than the £549 Oculus Rift and over £400 cheaper than the £759 HTC Vive – in fact, HTC’s offering costs over double the amount of Sony’s headset. Users interested in investing in a PlayStation VR headset can pick one up on Amazon for £349.99. Amazon isn't the only option though - Zavvi also offers the PlayStation VR for £349.99, although it’s out of stock at the time of writing.
While the price point attracted applause from those present at the event, all was not as it seemed as the CEO left out one vital piece of information. Yes, the PlayStation VR headset will cost £349 in the UK, but it doesn’t come with a PlayStation Camera, a vital element that’s required for VR use. The official PlayStation 4 Camera costs £39 on Amazon at the time of writing, which brings the total cost of the PlayStation VR headset to £389 – still a competitive price for a VR headset, but not as cheap as first thought. If buying the headset and camera separately isn't for you, you'll be happy to know that Zavvi is offering a PlayStation VR & PlayStation Camera bundle for £399.98 but like with the standard listing, it’s out of stock at the moment.
It’s the same story with the PlayStation Move controllers too, although these aren’t required to use the VR headset as all VR content will be compatible with Sony’s DualShock 4 controller. Despite the fact that the PlayStation Move controllers used with the PlayStation VR are the same controllers used with the PS3, the Move batons are currently being sold on Amazon for £60.
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PlayStation VR review: Design and build
The PlayStation VR headset is mainly white with black accents, and is clad with blue lights used to track the headset in conjunction with a number of built-in sensors. It’s fairly bulky and before using the headset for the first time, I assumed that it’d be pretty heavy too – however, I was mistaken.
I was surprised at just how lightweight the PlayStation VR headset was, especially when considering the size. It’s not as sleek and sexy as, say, the Oculus Rift, but it’s lightweight and comfortable. I experienced no irritation around the edges of the headset where it came into contact with my skin (with the nose being an issue with some headsets), even when using the headset for hours at a time.
Why? I’m sure that it has something to do with the plastic headband used by the PlayStation VR headset, compared to the fabric headbands used by the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The solid headband provides enough support to allow the adjustment of the distance between the display and the headband. This means that the headset can be fastened into place without your eyes being covered, then you simply pull the display towards your eyes when you’re ready to get started.
It also means the headset isn’t tightly fastened to your face, helping to alleviate sweatiness and skin irritation over time – two common issues in VR. It may not seem like a huge point to make, but it shows that Sony has considered all elements of use when designing the headset, even the way you put it on and take it off. It also means that glasses-wearers can use the PlayStation VR with no problem – something I can personally attest to.
Light leakage isn’t much of an issue with the PlayStation VR headset either, as the headset features several soft rubber flaps around the edges of the HMD that mould to the shape of your face when wearing the headset. This ingenious design feature allows the headset to stop light leaking into the headset without it being so close to your face that it becomes uncomfortable to wear.
Like many other VR headsets on the market, the PlayStation VR headset is wired and must be plugged into a PlayStation 4 console to be used. The cable was long enough for us to sit comfortably far away from the TV, and as many PlayStation VR games are to be played sat down, it’s not as much of an issue as it is with the room-scale tracking HTC Vive. The cable features headset controls, much like the in-line media controls found on many smartphone headphones, offering a headphone jack for your headphones along with volume controls and a power button.
One complaint about the design of the headset? It’s a bit complicated to put on - at first, anyway. When I first tried to put the headset on, it took me around five minutes (including on-screen prompts showing me how to do it) to properly fasten the headset and align the display, while I had no such issue with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. It means that it’s a little awkward to show to friends and family at first, however, much like riding a bike, once you find the knack for it, you’ll be able to put it on with ease.
Read next: PS4 Pro review