Sony announced earlier this week at GDC 2016 in California that the Playstation VR will cost $399 and be released in October 2016. Now that the three major virtual reality headset makers have finalized consumer versions and release details, proper comparisons can be drawn between the three: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PS VR.
The Oculus kicked off the modern VR craze while the Vive teamed up with Steam’s Valve to offer suitable competition. Sony, on the other hand, represents the console side of VR. With varying price tags, content offerings and experiences, it’ll be important to know all the details before taking the plunge and scooping up a VR headset. Here are the important things to know.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. You will not look cool wearing any of these headsets. You may feel cool in virtual reality in your EVE: Valkyrie spaceship or fighting enemies in Bullet Train or even in your VR work cubicle. But without a doubt you’ll look ridiculous to those on the outside looking at you–regardless of which headset you choose. The lameness factor almost negates the design.
That said, all three headsets carry distinctive looks. The Oculus presents users with a smooth rectangle front, the PS VR goes with a black and white design with striking lights on the front and the HTC Vive goes with the dimpled look.
The headsets each have their individual perks: the HTC Vive, for example, adds an external camera on the front to see out the other side. PS VR provides an inline remote on the unit cable to increase and decrease volume and the lights on the front match the glowing controllers. Oculus Rift’s headset is relatively bland, but the Touch controllers coming later this year look among the coolest of any VR controller.
Sony listed out the Playstation VR’s tech specs on screen during its GDC 2016 press conference. Included in the glowing headset is a 5.7-inch screen, a resolution of 1920xRBGx1080, a field of view of 100 degrees. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both have resolution clocking in at 2160×1200, and both offer a field of view of 110 degrees.
Sony made no mention of tracking area, as the PS VR is a seated experience, but Oculus offers 5 x 11 feet of tracking while the Vive can get up to 15 x 15 feet.
All three require HDMI and USB connections–meaning a giant wire will flow out the back of your head, Matrix-style (which seems somewhat appropriate for this kind of product).
Of the three major gaming virtual reality headsets, Playstation VR does the best in regards to price. The PS VR will run users $399. The VR headwear is thoughtful enough to ship with earbuds and mic but not gracious enough to come with another requirement: the Playstation Camera—which is sold separately for $60. And you’ll need a PS4, of course, which itself costs $349. Or if you’re new to the PS4 family, you can buy a new PS4 bundle with the camera included for $549, then the $399 PS VR on top of it. But all said and done, it remains cheaper than other VR gaming options…
On the Oculus Rift front, users can expect to pay $599 for its unit and expect shipment in late March. Along with the headset, Oculus is pairing its helmet with an Xbox One controller and two games for those who buy now: EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale. Though this too comes with hidden costs: the Oculus will require a powerful PC to work with it. The company recommends rigs that start at $949.
The most expensive of the three is the HTC Vive. HTC and Valve’s VR preorder presents buyers with the most expensive option yet. Shipping in May of this year, the $799 headset comes with two wireless Vive controllers and games like Job Simulator, Fantastic Contraption and Google’s Tilt Brush. While not big budget titles, there are already some interesting Tilt Brush creations that have hit the interwebz.