After several reports about the imminent release of the Sony Playstation VR, the VR headset (product code CUH-ZVR1 series) is finally here. It will work with the Playstation 4 as well as upcoming variations of this gaming system.
The headset looks somewhat similar to the earlier Sony 3D Viewer headsets and is connected to the external processor unit via a cable. At 610g this is not really a lightweight, which is one of the weaker specs of the unit. Based on the weight, Sony uses a full headband and a forward dome that rests on the forehead to better balance the headset. Similar to the 3D Viewer, the unit is powered by an 5.7″ OLED display, which in this case runs at refresh rates of 90Hz and 120Hz and has a FHD color (RGB) display at 1920 x 1080 resolution. This panel is divided in two 960 x 1080 displays, one for each eye. Sony states that the unit has a field of view of approximately 100 degrees.
The really interesting part of the announcement is the price in the USA of $399. This compares to $599 for the Oculus rift and $799 for the HTC Vive. Taking into account the Sony Playstation 4 source unit that is much cheaper than a Rift- or Vive-ready PC, the entry price for VR gaming is now shrinking significantly.
With this entry price Sony is really testing the price sensitivity curve for VR gaming. At least for owners of the Playstation 4, this headset is reaching the realm of an impulse buy, while the Rift and the Vive are still in the realm of major investments for gamers, especially if we keep in mind the price for the PC hardware. The adoption rate for the Playstation VR headset among Playstation 4 users will be one of the most interesting metrics in the VR gaming industry for the coming year. If successful, it could put Sony in the drivers seat for VR hardware and software for the immediate future.
On the other hand the overall resolution in some of the footage that Sony shows on its website raises some question about the overall experience for the gamer. Looking at the rasterisation of the images it reminds one of a newspaper print 30 years ago and that’s an accurate description of many VR headsets I have seen in the last year. As long as this is not improved upon, I believe that VR will not exceed the curiosity stage in the near future. (NH)