Final specs show that PlayStation VR is the heaviest headset among the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but its smart design will have you wondering how much weight can actually tell you about comfort.

I’ve had my head in every iteration of PlayStation VR since it was announced all the way back in 2014 (back then called ‘Project Morpheus’). While the headset has changed and improved over time, one thing that’s stayed surprisingly consistent is its ergonomic design. Sony somehow managed to nail this right out of the gate. It makes sense, after all, given that the company has quite an extensive history in the field of head mounted displays, dating back at least as far as 1993.

A Different Way to Wear

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PlayStation VR uses a head mount system that’s quite different than the Rift or the Vive, and even with the final official specs putting PSVR at 610 grams, it’s a surprising delight to wear.

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At 470 grams, the Rift relies on a semi-rigid strut and strap system that grips the crown of your head, to which it transfers much of the display enclosure’s weight via a strap running over the top of your head. The display enclosure then rests somewhat on your brow, with just a bit of pressure on your cheeks.

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At 555 grams, the Vive takes a straightforward goggle-style approach (much like the Rift development kits) where flexible straps are pulled tightly to squeeze the unit against your face with force applied from the back of your head. Like ski goggles, the pressure from the headset is felt largely in the brow and cheek areas surrounding your eyes.

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Both the Rift and Vive end up putting a fair amount of pressure on your face. This isn’t ideal as the face is filled with muscles that like to move, especially in the cheeks and around the eyes. They don’t quite like bearing pressure either; poor placement of a headset on your face can hold the muscles in non-resting positions which is notably uncomfortable, sometimes leading to twitching. If you’ve ever squinted or opened your eyes widely while putting on one of these headsets, you’ll immediately notice the discomfort of having the muscles in your face unable to reach their natural resting position.

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Sony’s approach is very different. PlayStation VR uses a ‘hanging’ style display enclosure which doesn’t rely at all on pressure from your face to keep it in place. Instead, the display hangs down from the structure of the headset while transferring a great majority of the weight to the top of your forehead (which, if you poke around up there a bit, you’ll notice has very little muscle compared to your face). From your forehead, the circle of the headset’s body wraps low behind your head to act as an anchor for the forehead section.

Accessible Adjustments Mean Optimal Use

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With the headset on, you won’t be playing with unseen velcro straps to adjust it. There’s just one fit adjustment and it’s a ratcheting wheel on the back of the head mount which is effortless to find and turn while wearing the headset (compare that to three individual strap adjustments on the Rift and Vive). Crank this to the right to tighten the headset’s grip against your forehead. When you’re done, a button right near the crank knob quick-releases all the tightening you’ve done and allows you to remove the headset in a snap.

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playstation-vr-6Another extremely easy adjustment on PSVR is the eye-to-lens distance. This is helpful not only for people with glasses, but for easily dialing in the maximum field of view for each user. Upon donning the headset, there’s a button underneath the right side of the display enclosure; press it in and you are free to move the display enclosure forward or backward as you see fit, bringing the lenses closer to your eyes.

The ease of this adjustment, and its range, is hugely important because it’s so quick and simple that user’s are likely to do it every time they wear the headset, meaning a maximum field of view on a more consistent basis from one user to the next. While the HTC Vive has (to our knoweldge) technically the largest field of view of the big three headsets, my bet is a majority of those who don’t know the on-paper field of view specs would rank PSVR as the largest field of view, simply because it’s so easy for users to optimize their individual field of view with this adjustment.

The Vive also has a lens-to-eye adjustment, but it doesn’t seem to be able to move as close to your eyes to push the field of view to its maximum. The adjustment is also a little harder to do and is actually somewhat well hidden, to the point that few people I’ve met actually know or remember it exists.

Then there’s the Rift which, sadly, doesn’t have any eye-to-lens adjustment. It was supposed to ship with varying foam spacers to achieve the same effect, but then didn’t.

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Impressive But Not Perfect

PlayStation VR is impressively comfortable and is only made moreso thanks to easy and effective adjustments, but it’s still missing a few key bits we’d like to see.

sony morpheus gdc 2015 hands on (2)

The big number one is built-in headphones. Like the Vive, PSVR asks users to bring their own headphones when they want to step into VR. But reaching around on your desk for a separate pair of headphones after you’ve put on the headset is one extra annoyance that we’d prefer not be between us and getting lost in a virtual world. The Rift is clearly ahead here, with its small and effective built-in headphones that hang right off the side struts.

playstation-vr-2Number two—a missing IPD adjustment—may not be a big deal, but only time will tell. IPD is the distance between your eyes, and both the Vive and the Rift offer a corresponding adjustment to change the distance between the lenses. In an ideal world, you want the lenses to be directly centered with each eye for the sharpest and most comfortable viewing. Sony says that they’ve made the PSVR lenses in such a way that it renders the need for an IPD adjustment null, but that may only be true if you fall within a certain IPD range.


Don’t be deceived by its weight; PlayStation VR is a smartly designed VR headset which brings strong design lessons to the market for others to learn from. We’ve already seen the introduction of Intel’s Project Alloy, which uses a similar hanging-style mount, and we’d be happy to see that trend continue to spread.

  • I read somewhere that IPD on PlayStation VR will be controlled via software, as it only uses one screen it can be done that way. Then that information will be linked with a persons PSN account. I think it was mentioned at GDC, perhaps?

    • polysix

      Yeah, possible cos that was how DK2 worked wasn’t it? and that only had one screen too. I’m trying to think back. Yeah it stored your ipd in a profile, no mechanical messing around needed (just the front/back lens adjsutment). Rift CV1 was such a letdown, I can’t even…

      • Bryan Ischo

        I don’t think fresnel lenses were used just to save weight. In fact, the idea that the lens weight even matters is kind of laughable given how light they are compared to all of the other componentry. I suspect weight was put in as a bullet point to try to fill out the list of “advantages” of fresnel lenses.

        Fresnel lenses do have one significant advantage: their thinness and flatness allows them to be cranked quite a bit closer to the eye, allowing for a wider field of view.

        That being said, I’d still take traditional lenses over fresnels any day of the week; the Vive lenses are without a doubt the worst feature of the device in my opinion.

        • David Melton

          Sony has always had good lenses in their products thanks to Carl Zeiss but these are camera lenses. I wonder if that helped them with their HMD at all?

      • Fluke

        DK1 and 2 did have software IPD adjustment, but that’s only part of it. Software adjustment basically made sure the perceived world scale was correct (for example, the fix for the incorrect scale in Hawken on the DK1 was to set up a profile that was actually half of your IPD).

        For people with extreme IPDs, it was still a problem as their eyes didn’t match up with the physical sweet spot in the centre of those lenses. There was a point back in the DK days when people were 3d printing adapters so that they could move the physical position of the lenses to match their IPD.

      • Iown You

        PSVR does not use fresnel lenses.

  • polysix

    Yeah this is definitely the best designed HMD so far, by a long way. I sold my VIVE as it did my head in with how much weight it pressed on to the cheeks (along with the other downsides like bad blacks and esp lens flare – just like rift too).

    The thing is having now used a number of HMDs going back to DK1, I realise that no matter how good the screens get or the controllers or roomscale or w/e, it counts for nothing if its a pain to wear. VIVE was a pain to wear, really, not at first cos the novelty is too good (Roomscale can be stunning… if you have the space) but after a while the ergonomics sap your will to even bother. Rift isn’t much better either, a bit but still lacking and very annoying on the face + has even worse god rays.

    PSVR is shaping up to be the best/well balanced HMD on the market (and the cheapest AND the cheapest point of entry for the system). Well done Sony. I only hope they branch out into PC VR and make a similar looking one with same ergonomics but for PC with high spec/res/fov etc even if it’s gen 2 (Foveated rendering). They would kill it on PC and become the standard bearer I’m sure (Use open vr /steam). Oculus are ridiculously over-rated, they started this ball rolling, got arrogant and are left in the dirt by vive with roomscale/controls and by sony with ergonomics/screen/lenses.

    Unless oculus pull out a miracle for gen 2 (a stunning system at a very good price) then I can’t seem them lasting much longer, they have so much negativity against them now, as a former DK2 owner who was very pro oculus until FB bought them out, it’s a shame but what did they think would happen once Facebook got involved? /rollseyes

    • victor

      Me too I’m back using my DK2. Maybe when second generation consumer headset with wider fov and res, and better fitting ergonomics I’ll upgrade again! (wether it be oculus, Vive, PC PSVR, or whichever else).
      In the meantime I’m still having fun with my DK2.

    • Get Schwifty!

      I definitely agree the Sony has the best ergonomic design, but until people see them I am still dubious they will truly deliver visual quality like the Rift or Vive. That being said…

      Wow – some serious anti-Oculus tone here. Touch is not out nor is it officially priced yet so how you can make a statement like “too late and expensive” is amazing. Best guesses place the price between 749.99 for HMD plus Touch (including a second camera) to 799.89, identical (with proven room scale) to Vive. It’s very likely introduction of Touch/Guardian (Oculus Chaperone system with room scale (which it does reasonably well with one camera today) is going to create a very different dynamic and force a reassessment in the press.

      As for not being around long, the truth is Facebook is committed to Oculus and VR and recognizes it is going to be a decades long process of refinement and integration (their words not mine) so their expectations are in check – if anyone jumps in and out of VR in the short term it will be HTC/Vive or Sony; Facebook/Oculus is in for the long term and can afford to flub some.

      All this development is happening in a still young industry; it will likely turn out each system will contribute to a more common design over time. Sony likely will contribute by providing a better ergonomic HMD design, Oculus with the Touch design, and Vive possibly with the Lighthouse system. There’s nothing written these players can’t change their setups if they truly make sense to change. The God-rays are irritating, but Vive has its own optical issues, and Sony will too.

      All that being said, I desperately want to see Sony PSVR succeed to drive VR adoption, fund a developer network which feeds Vive/Rift content and to push the competition. Don’t forget the Xbox Scorpio is going to almost certainly be Rift, so there is yet another player beyond Sony to play as well and drive Oculus.

      • Konchu

        I was really impressed with the display on the demos I played, I didn’t see screen door really it I looked really hard I could pixels but no pixel borders. So anxious to see what the brings. Text was really super clean on the Headmaster, so Anxious to get mine.

        • Get Schwifty!

          FWIW, I do plan on picking one up when I can, glad to hear the text was clean particularly.

      • This isn’t based on some Pro or Anti sentiment of any kind, I have legitimate doubts about the coverage of the 2-camera system. When you walk around, I think you’re body is going to block the cameras more often then the lighthouse system, especially when it comes to hand tracking in room scale. It’s going to be worse when you’re 4 to 8 feet from the nearest camera.

        This might be improved with that crazy 4 camera system that’s been suggested, but at that point, why bother? Adding more Lighthouse units only requires a power outlet each. Adding more cameras requires more USB ports, more work for your PSU, and increased CPU overhead. It’s a losing race for Oculus in Room-Scale. Even if they offered the best seated experience, they are always going to remain one big feature behind the VIVE.

        • Will Cho

          Light house or constellation, the body will cause occlusion. Light house does track farther though. Constellation use single usb 3.0 but three cameras will be more than enough for 4m by 4m but depending on the motherboard, you may need to buy USB port or card. I have both Vive and Rift and I prefer Rift for all the pros over Vives’ pro. Same goes for touch over wands.

          • I think you miss my point entirely. Adding more USB cameras is a quickly losing solution. Adding Lighthouse units are easy, requiring just another power outlet. Every additional webcam requires more processing power, USB ports, cabling back to a central computer system, and power burden on the PSU. I can get Lighthouse units into places a camera setup would be difficult to rig, if not impossible. Occlusion can be made next to impossible with Lighthouse, and large areas covered with ease. The Constellation system, on the other hand, appears to quickly lose ground over distance. Maybe it’s “Good Enough” if the space isn’t too large, but at least on paper, it could never keep up with the spaces Lighthouse can track.

          • Will Cho

            Processing power and power consumption is negligible. Tracking with constellation have issue after more than 3m with one camera. Cabling USB is harder than plugging into a power outlet depending on setup. Light house can definitely track up to 10m or more but doesn’t matter cause cable for Vive headset creates issue(5m). I find the wand awkward and headset more uncomfortable and prefer more ergonomic product. For most, 3m by 3m play area is out of the question. So, for few, yes, for most…… On paper, yes light house is better but in real world, doesn’t help much.

    • Shamoy Rahman

      I use both the Vive and Playstation VR frequently and I use the Oculus occasionally, here’s my input. The Playstation VR is certainly a lot more ergonomic but it is slightly underwhelmed by the weaker graphics of the PS4, however, I was surprised to see it maintaing visual quality close to that of the Vive. The PS VR uses an RGB OLED display compared to the Vive and Oculus which use Pentile OLEDs. While they may have more resolution, having a pentile arrangement of subpixels really kills the point of having higher resolution because it hurts sharpness a lot. It basically brings the Vive and the Rift down to similar visual quality of the PS VR, except with a slightly wider field of view and more graphics horsepower. Eve Valkyrie was an excellent game to help me compare the Oculus, Vive, and PS VR. About the Oculus, don’t buy it, if you’re already going to spend $1300+ on a good gaming PC, you might as well get the Vive because its tracking is a lot better and the motion controllers are actually available to buy now unlike waiting for the Oculus Touch controllers to be released. That extra $200 for the Vive will make worlds of a difference. The problem I had with the Vive was whenever I breathe, my glasses get fogged up inside the headset and that makes a really uncomfortable experience to game on. The Playstation VR on the other hand does not suffer from that. The Vive however has the best motion controls ever and nothing can compare to that as of now but the Playstation Move controllers are no slouch either.

      My recommendation is, if you are on a tight budget, PS4 + PS VR is the way to go. If you are going into expensive PC VR, avoid Oclulus and go straight for VIve, you will eventually want to switch to the Vive if you stick with the Oculus for too long.

      • Get Schwifty!

        “avoid Oclulus and go straight for VIve, you will eventually want to switch to the Vive if you stick with the Oculus for too long.”

        Are you on crack? The tracking by analysis has shown to be minimally different at best between the Vive setup and Rift (and this with one camera even). It’s okay to have an opinion but dont say things that are simply gross exaggerations. Virtually every reviewer that is honest understands the introduction of Touch in the month or so along with the camera and coming Guardian system will pretty much Oculus do everything the Vive does You might lose a tiny fraction of tracking that you likely will never see, but get much better controllers, a more than fair trade-off for immersion. On top of that, you get a slightly better HMD both in terms of ergonomics and visual quality.

        • Shamoy Rahman

          I’m not a Vive fanboy though but this is from my personal experience.

          • Texazzpete

            It’s also a biased and illogical viewpoint given that the Oculus Touch is launching in weeks, invalidating all the points you made. You had to know that when you made those points.

          • Veraxus

            So it’s just anecdotal, then.

            I also have both – and while the Vive’s controllers are a shining testament to how badly Oculus blew it by shipping without real VR controllers… the two headsets offer literally identical experiences. Identical image quality, identical bloom thanks to the horrible fresnel lenses, and identical spatial tracking performance.

            The Vives only advantages are the controllers (which are soon to be a moot point) and ability to track a larger area. The latter comes at the cost of setting up the PITA lighthouse emitters, and the Oculus is generally much more comfortable to boot.

            There is no clear winner right now – but once the Touch controllers are out, Oculus will have the best overall VR solution IMO.

            Right now Vive gets all the love because VR without VR controllers is just a half-baked tease.

    • beestee

      Hmmm.

      2 billion dollars, or the adoration of internet friends?

      That decision doesn’t seem so difficult.

      And even if that hadn’t happened, people would find something else to complain about Oculus over.

      • David Melton

        Like Luckey’s politics? Lol

  • VRgameDevGirl

    I was shocked at how comfy this was compared to vive. I wish that all were made this way.

    • Get Schwifty!

      Personally I think they will be in time, or refined even further. The designs are not set in stone.

  • Robbie Cartwright

    I think I’ll wait until a Gen 2 when they hopefully have higher resolution screens inside, but it definitely seems like I’ll be buying a console again. But mostly for VR this time. Been a long time since I had my PS2…

  • The wheel on the rear reminds me the one of Hololens.
    Very interesting article about the comfort… till now the most comfortable headset I’ve ever tried is the Rift.. I’m curious to try this one to see if it is truly more comfortable…
    Anyway; I’ve read that graphical quality of PSVR is lower, so maybe they’re compensating with other features

    • Get Schwifty!

      I have yet to try the Sony HMD, but based on what the article says I cannot imagine it not being a better ergonomic experience. I expect over the inevitable product revisions to the product both Oculus and Vive will move in this direction. The Rift does not IMHO get enough credit for being a fairly comfortable design relative to the Vive, but no question both the Vive and Rift HMD’s are inferior to the Sony design.

  • beestee

    Sony has been working on the ergonomics of this type of device for the better part of three decades.

    I have a glasstron HMD that I bought many years ago, PLM-50 I think was the model, and the ergonomics were not perfect, but they were a good start, and the later glasstrons only appeared to get better in that department.

    It is interesting that in spite of the time that they have spent working on this type of device that they did not come to a different conclusion with the headphones.

  • TonyDeon

    The only thing I disagree with is it needing headphones simply because that would add more to the cost ( although I think a bundle would work but you already need so much stuff )and if you wanna do it right considering VR is an immersive environment I’d plan to get the Sony 3D audio headphones soon to be available or another brand.

  • Paranimal

    The one thing I disagree with in this article is that they say Oculus is ahead with having built in headphones. Everything I’ve read about the built in Oculus headphones is that they’re cheap and kind of crappy. I love that I can slap on any pair of headphones of my choosing, the PSVR creates 3D audio through tracking your location and any stereo headphones will work with the 3D audio. So to me its a huge plus I can wear my Bose Noise cancelling headphones over any cheap thing Sony would slap on there. Is it possible to use your own headphones with Oculus? If not that’s a huge minus to me.

    • TonyDeon

      I was thinking the same thing. While not taking anything away from the Oculus itself, you know they are cheap.

    • Veraxus

      The Oculus headphones aren’t as great as my Bose cans, no… but you know what, they’ve got pretty solid audio quality, nice range, and are perfect for gaming; plus there’s no extra cable.

      You’re not going to be listening to Dark Side of the Moon on those things. You game with them.

  • I’m a vive user and detest consoles because of the negative impact they’ve had on PC games but i can see the psvr is a nice design ergonomically. For the guy below who sold his vive because it was too heavy? It seems that some people have a physiology that means they have problems with something like the vive. I was surprised how un-heavy the vive was when i got it (given all the complaining people seem to do). I can definitely feel the weight is at the front with the vive compared to dk2 or cv1 but i have never had fatique using the vive and never will.

    • David Melton

      The first day I got my Vive I had two reactions:
      1) I was blown away by the experience
      2) I got a head ache and my neck was a tad sore
      After that first day nothing like that has happened since (Its been about 4 months). I have also noticed that I am able to play for much longer stretches and easily lose track of the time. So after several hours in VR I get none of the symptoms I noticed on my first day of owning the Vive. You’re body will most likely adjust quickly. Same with motion sickness for most people

      • I read more and more stories of vive users getting past their initial vr sickness. One guy got himself used to playing HL2 with mouse and keys and now says he can play anything. I guess I’m lucky because i didn’t need to get used to vr. It was never an issue. Perhaps because i spent years gaming with a fresnel lens in front of monitor.

  • I tried it a few days ago and the PSVR is really, really comfortable. And so soft, like having a pillow on your head. I didn’t even notice it I had it on my head. The rubbers to block out exterior light, are also really soft. I was able to pull the headset real close to my head without any discomfort. As said, on paper it may not have the biggest FOV, but I didn’t notice any of that. I didn’t see any black borders around the edges. Everything was also scharp and I only noticed the screen door effect twice, but even then you could hardly see it.
    Graphics, depending on what game, can range between PS2.5 graphics and PS3 graphics. Driveclub had a lower res environment, but the cars looked great. Ocean Descent en Until Dawn looked amazing. And since the Pro was created with the psvr in mind, you’ll probably will see a bump in graphics/resolution for the VR.
    And no, there was no lag at all. PSVR games run at (locked) 90 or 120 fps (with the aid of some interpolation techniques or something like that). It ran really smooth on a regular PS4.

    I went in with low expectations because of some comments on the internet, but I was happily surprised by the PSVR.

  • Juakin Bm

    What we need is a device 400€ all included (motion controllers + cameras too), and that is cross-platform (PC+PS4+XO), and reduce all wires to a single 3.1 USB or make it Wireless.
    Otherwise is not interesting enough.