PlayStation VR launches on October 13th, but today is review day and we’ve got a detailed PSVR review ready for you!

For those who don’t want to dig into the full review, here’s our handy summary. For the rest of you, we’ve got 2,000 words awaiting your eyes.

Oculus Rift Review: Prologue to a New Reality
HTC Vive Review: A Mesmerising VR Experience, if You Have the Space

PlayStation VR Review Summary


PlayStation VR is a strong start for virtual reality on consoles, showing that it not only can be done, but it can be done well; the system is home to some of the best VR content I’ve played yet.

Powered by the now three year old foundation of PS4, I’m blown away by the visuals that have been achieved through PSVR. I’m especially interested to see how things improve further with the launch of PS4 Pro.

Sony Announces Powerful PlayStation 4 Pro with Enhanced PSVR Support

PSVR’s 1920×1080 OLED panel resolution might be lower on paper than the headset’s two major competitors, but with its RGB pixel structure, it’s perfectly capable of creating powerfully immersive experiences and beautiful virtual worlds, despite a few display flaws.

The ergonomics of PlayStation VR feel class-leading in many ways when compared to the Rift and Vive, with a design that maximizes both field of view and comfort. However, I really would have liked to see built-in headphones to eliminate an extra cable, not to mention bulk, from a pair of headphones not designed to be worn with a VR headset.

PSVR’s visible-light camera-based tracking system is likely to be its biggest challenge going forward. It feels only just over the ‘good enough’ line and is notably less accurate and responsive compared to the more expensive Rift and Vive.

By no surprise and no mistake, PlayStation VR is in a big way all about the price. Consoles have always been about value. And despite being based on demonstrably less powerful hardware, PSVR delivers a VR experience that punches above its weight class and makes a strong argument for both existing and new console players to jump into VR right now.

Update (11/7/16): PlayStation VR on PS4 Pro


PlayStation VR works just as well on PS4 Pro as it does on PS4. For now, we’re seeing minute improvements in visuals at best, while tracking performance is unchanged. Loading times on PS4 Pro seem snappier and that also translates to less noticeable texture pop-in in some cases which is a bigger deal in VR than regular games because of how closely you can inspect the world around you. There’s also an extra USB port on the back of the PS4 Pro which is really handy for hooking up the PlayStation VR breakout box without stealing one of the front ports which are best saved for connecting and charging controllers.

Keep in mind that pretty much every PlayStation VR title launched to date was made with the PS4 in mind. We expect in the future to see more significant visual improvements for PSVR titles running on PS4 Pro as developers have more time to optimize their titles (and begin building new ones from scratch) for the extra horsepower. While the 1080p display and poor mura correction are the biggest bottlenecks to the headset’s visuals, increased supersampling can do wonders if applied appropriately to a well optimized VR game.

PlayStation VR on PS4 Pro vs. PS4 Comparison



Sony’s years of hardware design experience shines through on PlayStation VR. Right out of the gate back when the company announced (the formerly named) Project Morpheus, the headset’s ergonomic design was already matured very close to what you’ll get out of the retail box. It’s an elegant design that feels more sophisticated than the Vive and more ergonomic than the Rift. That elegance may however lead to some fragility however.



Unboxing the PlayStation VR ‘core’ headset (the package without the camera and Move controllers) was a fun experience. The outer box design mimics that of PlayStation’s overall playful branding, but slides away to reveal a strong inner cardboard box that’s thoughtfully designed around the elegant headset within. From the minimal grey exterior to the blue interior and and the diagonally-opening lid held in place with a white ribbon, Sony is conveying a sense of uniqueness to what’s inside, and for many people who are opening what’s ostensibly a $400 or $500 peripheral (depending upon which package was purchased), it certainly should feel special.

PlayStation VR Unboxing

After cracking the diagonal shell open, players are greeted with a series of smaller boxes which contain cables aplenty. All are removed easily with finger holes, and reveal the pearl within the box, the PSVR headset itself. There’s a surprising number of cables and bits in the box, but most of it is in service with connecting the PSVR’s breakout box to the PS4; fear not, only a single cable will run away from the breakout box to the headset, and setup is actually pretty painless (more on that later).

For what will be the first VR headset for many people, I think Sony did a good job with a memorable unboxing experience, and that inner box will serve as a good storage place for the headset and an occasional transport box (though for more substantial transit there’s more robust options).

Design & Ergonomics



Plastic is the predominant material found on the headset, and while it’s elegantly designed, it doesn’t have quite the premium feel of the Rifts svelte fabrics or the firm feel of the Vive. The overall impression the PSVR leaves is of greater fragility than it’s PC powered counterparts.

Part of that has to do with the materials, but a larger part is likely due to the design of the headset which has a fairly large display assembly connected by a relatively small mounting strut. With the leverage provided by the display assembly, there’s some flex to PSVR’s overall shape. This may have been a necessary sacrifice in order to have the comfort of a hanging-style design that’s also highly adjustable (which we’ll talk more about later).

Generally speaking, you’re unlikely to feel comfortable tossing PlayStation VR around like you might one of the PS4 controllers, but then again, neither of the other major headsets out there feel quite ready for that level of handling either.


The inner padding of the headset that rests on your forehead and squeezed behind your head is squishy and comfortable, providing a lot of wiggle room when it comes to tightening the headset your comfort.


Because the display assembly doesn’t rely on resting against your face like the Rift and Vive, the shielding around the lenses is made of a lightweight and highly flexible rubber that will quite easily defer to the frame of a pair of glasses, making PSVR potentially the most glasses-friendly high-end VR headset out there.

Fit & Comfort


As I wrote previously, I think PlayStation VR stands among the most comfortable headsets out there. The ‘hang-down’ design of the very different than what the Vive and Rift bring to the table, and the result is a headset that puts almost no pressure on the sensitive muscles in your face. I explored the differences in head-mount approach between the three systems:

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 (when properly adjusted).

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.

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.


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.



Sony opted to go with a ‘Bring Your Own Headphones’ approach, and they include a pair of inexpensive earbuds with PSVR. Headphones can be attached via a 3.5mm port on the side of the inline ‘remote’ that sits along the headset’s cord. The PlayStation VR breakout box spits out spatial 3D audio to whatever headphones you plug in there.

The included earbuds didn’t fit me very well initially, but there’s a pair of smaller and larger rubber tips that you should try on for size before giving up on the earbuds all together. I took the the smaller size and have mostly enjoyed using the earbuds rather than adding the additional weight and bulk of a pair of over-ear headphones.

No matter which approach I took, I was still left itching for an integrated headphone solution like those found on the Rift. Dealing with an extra headphone cable is already bothersome, but so too is fiddling with the headphones to find the right/left while the headset is already on. For those with expensive headphones of your own that you’d like to employ with PSVR, I’ll remind you that the Rift’s headphones are removable for that purpose as well, giving us a good model for how audio on a VR headset should be done.

Cable Placement


Placement of both the cable coming out of the headset and the inline remote seems off to me.

The cable mounting for PSVR’s tether points it out behind the headset, but I found it more comfortable to let the cable run in front of my shoulder and straight toward its home near the PS4 in front of me rather than behind my shoulder.


The inline remote—which houses a power button, volume buttons, and the headphone jack—seems placed at a very odd length down the cable; it seemed to like to rest around the height of my chest which made it awkward to grab and manipulate. Placing it longer down the cable (maybe around waist-height) seems like it would make it easier to use. It’s likely that Sony wanted it fairly close to the head to try to minimize the distance between the headphone jack and the player’s ears, but that’s just one more point in favor of going with the built-in headphone approach.

Continued on Page 2 – Specs & Performance

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • craylon

    Let me be the first to thank you for this very in depth article.
    I am currently very happy with my Vive but I will definitely considder PSVR and Pro in a year from now or so when the dust settled and the content situation matured further.

    • Charles

      There will probably be a much better Rift or Vive by then.


    Excellent & thorough review. It’s clear from your impressions that PSVR is a worthy member of the current VR triad. I especially appreciate you pointing out that the entire non-VR PS ecosystem is available to play inside the headset. This feature alone makes this a must-buy, for me.

  • LLyan

    Hi, thank you for this detailed article. I recently got to test the PS VR and I was very happy with the experience. A question though about the cinematic mode. Were you able to test the different screen sizes and if so, how was the quality? Any screendoor effect on the largest screen, or is it workable as a second screen?


    • Simon Wood

      An interesting point from Sony FAQ is that Cinematic view does not actively use the camera (just need one to set up, apparently?).
      So I wonder whether this will result in a gradual yaw if playing 2D games (or movies – before they have a proper cinema app).

  • Get Schwifty!

    Definitely plan on getting one, after the Touch comes out and I can get an order in. Disappointing to hear about the tracking, but honestly, at this stage people are wanting perfection for what are fairly low prices for new tech, so it’s not surprising its only “good enough”.

    • Paolo Leoncini

      I don’t find the PS VR tracking so bad, it’s surprisingly stable (no jitter at all), quite large area, and it rarely loose you, so, in my opinion, is more than good enough.
      Furthermore the camera also track your hand-held controller (the Dual-shock one I mean), so in the virtual scene you’ll find it graphically-represented in 6-DoF.

  • Matthew Roche

    I agree with the excellent and thorough review. I liked the part where you went over how IPD adjustments work with the PS VR and tips of finding the sweet spot.

  • wheeler

    Thanks for mentioning the OLED mura. So many people fail to mention this when evaluating a VR HMD. It can basically make or break dark experiences.

  • David Herrington

    I have personally tried PSVR after extensive use with a Vive and I was really impressed with the tracking and visuals that they could get out of a PS4. I hate to say it but it really does “punch above its weight class” and I think it will make the most money out of all the contenders so far. PSVR isn’t a bad thing guys, it is a great deal for high end VR.

    • kipsteele

      agreed. I have tested a game on one and it was fantastic. so the question really seems to be to oculus of what to do now.

      • Arian Taghdiri

        not really, PSVR tracking doesn’t hold a candle to the HTC Vive. Roomscale really is what makes VR, so PSVR really has a ways to go, in terms of sales though yes, I am sure it will be successful and kill the vive and oculus sales wise. But as a vr device is sits in the back, it does have better games for now though so I look forward to getting mine and hopefully this means HTC and Oculus will get some of these games.

        • Wiines 007

          It’s Sony, they will ALWAYS have the better games.

      • a corn

        you kids are hilarious.

        “Toyota released a cheap car. Ferrari is doomed”.


        • Jon

          bad analogy, ferrari would go under if it weren’t owned by fiat. point is, more people will likely try psvr than a vive so if enough people try it once and say it sucks then devs could abandon vr as a platform because it doesn’t sell. its like drinking mcdonalds coffee and being like “coffee is alright i guess” but no one told you that gevalia/starbucks/etc existed.

        • Wiines 007

          If everyone is buying the Toyota the Ferrari will just sit at the dealership looking good. Its public knowledge that the Rift and Vive did not sell well, compared to projections. PSVR is our last hope to keep VR around.

          • Get Schwifty!

            Not exactly true, sales estimates are about where they should be (forget analysts, they made up their own numbers) considering how things went with launch. Oculus wants approximately 400,000 sales for 2016, it’s a good bet they are approaching around say 100,000 by now and will get a surge for Xmas, still way off from 400K, but when you factor in the delayed launch by nearly four to five months its not too surprising. The other factor is Facebook realizes that its a movement that will take many years to realize its full potential, so they are not going “screw it, they didn’t make this years numbers” and bail out. HTC/Vive, now that might be another matter entirely, but I suspect they will hang in there too.

        • “Toyota released a cheap car. Ferrari is doomed”.

          That analogy only works if you’re prepared to pay ten times as much for the games as well, to make up for the lower playerbase.

      • Get Schwifty!

        And Vive if you are going to draw that point out… both Rift and Vive face competition from Sony, but I think it will only help. Many folks own a console and PC if they are serious gamers..

    • a corn

      I think the horrible tracking everyone is experiencing is a bad sign for more expensive vr. people will think this is as good as it gets and call it a gimmick. Because at this stage it is a gimmick. You cant touch the ground. You can’t raise your hands up all the way while standing.

      • Wiines 007

        The analog sticks were considered a gimmick until they cought on. Plus, going into a gaming world isn’t a gimmick. It’s the very reason why people play games, immersion. VR might be a fad, but not a gimmick. Poor choice of word.

  • A sentence in paragraph 7 reads “That elegance may *however* lead to some fragility *however*.”

    Just FYI

  • Sky Castle

    I want to like the PSVR, but it looks like there’s nothing but short experiences and tech demos. Steam has much of the same thing but at least their vr library is huge. I’m going to wait a couple years for the big AAA titles before getting a PSVR.

    • Wiines 007

      You clearly haven’t researched the launch window games. You couldn’t be more wrong.

      • Sky Castle

        You clearly have no clue what I like and don’t like. None of the PSVR game look interesting besides the AAA games which are one level of VR with the exception of RE7, and none of them are full exclusive, so I’ll be playing them on the Vive.

        • Robbie Zeigler


  • Great review. Worried about a few points like tracking. Will have to test one to see.

  • wowgivemeabreak

    On one hand, I like it if it expands the vr industry since every vr user should benefit. On the other, this apparent less than ideal tracking I have read from multiple reviewers could be a big negative for the industry if people assume that is how all vr headsets will be.

    I think Sony shouldn’t have skimped out on the tracking, even if it meant pricing the headset a bit higher. No good having something that will make people put off by it and not want to use it than simply making it correctly work and cost a bit more.

    As for the review, that was a good read and I appreciate the detail.

    • Wiines 007

      Sony has already pattened a VR glove and is in development. Research it if you’re interested.

    • zero

      No good having a product that’s so expensive that people won’t buy it either.

  • George Vieira IV

    The sweet spot was mentioned, but didn’t give a comparison to the Rift or Vive. I thought the biggest advantage of the Fresnel lenses was their increased sweet spot, at least that was the thing I noticed most going from a DK2 to the CV.

    If they were able to obtain a similar sweet spot to the Rift without the “god rays” that is a big deal. Being able to look around with my eyes and see things in focus is paramount, but I do hate those light artifacts :P

    • sfmike

      I agree, the “god rays” have really soured me on my Rift. Having tried the PSVR I was very pleased with the field of view and lack of those damn Fresnel lens. It’s like viewing the world with cataracts of fingerprints on your glasses. Really destroys presence when any bright object appears. PSVR glass lens are an improvement to me.

  • Russell Dornisch

    No one has mentioned in a single review in regards to non-gaming VR. Can you get access to other experiences such as video VR, Sports VR, Etc.? Or will there need to be an app in the future? I know the browser works but simply browsing to VR video won’t give full VR experiences.

    • benz145

      This is something I wanted to touch on but couldn’t make the review too much more bulky.

      The answer is yes, Sony is opening the door for some ‘apps’ that aren’t really games. ‘Within’ is a video portal which is already on the platform. That means it’s possible that apps like NextVR, Altspace, etc could come to PSVR.

      • Russell Dornisch

        Do you know if regular VR video that you can find on the web can be used, or only through the apps that will be coming later. I know Netflix was listed as having an app coming later for it.

        • benz145

          As of now I’m not aware of any VR browser functionality on PSVR beyond just using the regular system browser while the headset is on. I believe there might be a way to play 360 videos that you load locally onto the PS4, but need to double check on that.

  • RockstarRepublic

    Too bad they did not gear this towards PC as well. Would be a good way to get VR into both PC and console gamer’s hands. Hell could possibly get them to buy PS4’s if they didnt have one already.

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    I don’t owned any VR headset but I pay attention to all the reviews. From my observation, PSVR will most likely win the first generation.

    Vive requires a bigger space and those cables hanging on the back of the neck is distracting and the fact that you are standing, those cables can be a hazard. Playing games while standing is not comfortable, even if it is more immersive you will get tired after 30 mins. Vive is really meant for the arcade, something that you pay a few dollars to experience for 15 mins. Most gamers are couch potatoes and they want to play for hours.

    Rift is for the PC and sitting at the desk is not very comfortable either unless you bring the PC to your lounge room – but most people will not do that, they want a system that fits in with their lifestyle not the other way around.

    Mobile VR is only good for 360 videos and Youtube. Having to put your phone inside a VR headset each time you want to use it, is tedious and it drains the battery.

    PSVR seems to be the sweet spot for price and performance. Using it with a PS4 slim is so portable – you don’t even need a TV. The slim is like a laptop that you can carry in a bag with PSVR, or move around the house. This is the only VR system that fits in with people’s lifestyle and that people will want to use regularly.

    • Hotcakes

      AIUI the PSVR needs a TV for first time configuration, so that kills the portability theory.

      • Till Eulenspiegel

        Is that so? I didn’t know that. Regardless, it’s easier to carry the PS4 slim and the PSVR to a friend’s house than other VR system where you have to bring your desktop PC. You can of course get a Alienware laptop but it cost 10 times more than PS4.

      • Arwin van Arum

        That’s just first time configuration, and even then you can use remote play with, say, a PS VIta or any PC around.

    • Aragon

      You can calibrate HTC Vive as a standing experience, in this case you don’t need a big room. And you can use the Vive also as a seated experience if you want, every Oculus game is also playable on the Vive. Another big advantage of the Vive is the Huge tracking area. In my flat I have a roomscale behind the couch I could use but I it works also when I sit at the couch, both without moving the camera, this is not possible with Oculus or PSVR.

      And 360° games only work with Vive. It is still by far the best VR Headset currently available.

      But I admit that PSVR is more comfortable and has better lenses than the Vive, It’s a pity that Vives lenses are not exchangable.

  • Paolo Leoncini

    I’m a VR professional and bought PS VR for my son – we are both enthusiasts of it, and I’m very satisfied also by the tracking despite I didn’t calibrate it accurately.
    What I’d like to point out instead is the poor, possibly not at all, color distortion correction operated on the warped image. To be self-esplaining, the three basic colors, RGB, get distorted differently by the spherical lens depending on their wavelength. Thus, by considering “exact” the undistortion for the green (i.e. it doesn’t get undistorted further), there are two further polynomial undistortions to apply for the two R and B color components, usually occuring in the same shader as the geometric barrel undistortion. The desired effect is to make RGB to fall on the same “viewed position” all over the entire field of view.
    Well, in the PS VR such color undistortion is not effective, or, even worst, not done at all. The center hot spot is not touched by this problem because of the low distortion operated by the lens, but the peripheral of the field of view is. It is more evident as graphics is done by lines, or other thin primitives (text, …) with solid (i.e. non textured) color.
    It’s a pity, and hope Sony will improve (firmware upgrade?) the PS VR on this aspect.

  • HoriZon

    Just can’t get hold of one for love nor money well unless you wanna pay double price for one.

  • glassmilk

    The PSVR has the best display of all VR headsets. It has a lower resolution as the Vive and the Oculus but it has NO annoying screen door effect (this is totally impressive).
    (as i understand it they use a “real screen door” in front of the display to BEND the light, this way the eye can’t see the gaps between the pixels)

    Now the question: What prevents Vive or Oculus from using a similar technology?
    Patent rights? Any info?

    No VR side has a topic about this important topic.

    Is it so hard to add a milk glass to the display?
    I would instantly buy a VR headset if the annoying screen door effect gets removed.

    • Synyster Gates

      Sir, what the heck are you talking about? Bend the light? Rift and Vive use pentile display with 2 subpixels per pixel while PSVR uses RGB with 3 subpixels per pixels, making the count of subpixels in the PSVR higher than the concurents. That fixes the screendoor effect. Both Vive and PSVR excel at their own strong points (Vive at almost perfect tracking + room vr, PSVR at the screen/lens quality, comfort and huge userbase = more publishers interested in the platform), while the rift ended somewhat at a mediocre VR experience, not trying to get strong in a niche advantage.