How PlayStation VR Stacks Up Against The Competition

Sony announced the price and a narrowed release window for the PlayStation VR last night, and the general consensus seems to be that they got it right. Coming in at ¢399/€399/£349, it’s in line with their previous statements that it would be priced comparably to a new console.

That makes it a lot cheaper than the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, and while that’s a win in one column, there was the statement earlier this week from PlayStation executive vice president Masayasu Ito, saying “If you just talk about the high-end quality, yes, I would admit that Oculus may have better VR.”

So, turning to the specifications, how do the three competing platforms stack up?

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Right off the bat, the first difference is in pixel density, with both the Rift and Vive featuring a 1080×1200 resolution per eye that goes beyond what the PS VR can manage at 960×1080. It increases the number of pixels by a quarter and allows for a wider field of view, but this step up doesn’t eliminate the ability to resolve the individual pixels of the display, in my experience with the three devices.

In truth, none of the systems are using all of that resolution anyway, with the image passing through lenses that subtly distort the view into the game world. All of this comes into play when determining what hardware is needed to power and run the VR headsets. A PlayStation 4 is obviously good enough for the PS VR, and the home console is much less powerful in terms of raw specifications than the Core-i5 4590 and Nvidia GTX 970/AMD R9 290 combination for the Rift and Vive.

That’s because, while the PS VR states 120Hz as the top refresh rate, that’s primarily there to smooth out 60 frames per second gameplay. Ideally, games on all three systems will run at an unwavering 90 frames per second, and that’s what the top tier PCs can manage without skimping on graphical fidelity.

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Again, the best part of the Sony’s announcement comes from the price. It shaves off a third of the price from the Oculus Rift and is half the price of the HTC Vive, making it much more palatable to the masses – it helps that the PS4 is much cheaper than the PCs needed, as well. But there are hidden costs here. You need the PlayStation Camera, for one thing, which adds another $60/£40 to the mix, and you will have a better experience in some games with a PlayStation Move controller in each hand. Sony are releasing a bundle with all this, but it’s only been announced for the US so far.

The Oculus Rift is also waiting for its motion controllers, the Oculus Touch, to be released later this year, but it includes the player facing camera. The Vive, on the other hand, is everything you could possibly need to get the best out of it and its unique room scale VR proposition. There’s no camera, but there are two Lighthouse base stations which let you mark out a rectangular area to get up and move around in freely, and it also includes two motion controllers right out of the box.

The PS VR has its own unique tricks though. The little black box acts as a power supply and processes 3D audio, which is a vital part of immersing you in VR, but it also splits up the HDMI signal so that the VR view into the world can be played back on the TV at the same time, or to give other people in the room a separate view. Where VR is so often seen as an isolated experience, Sony want to break down the virtual barriers and feature a party atmosphere.

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Even with all of the caveats compared to its competitors, there’s a feeling that Sony have got things right with the PS VR’s position. It’s still an expensive addition to your console – with one or two hidden costs – but it’s price is more palatable for the wider market than the premium pricing elsewhere.

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15 Comments

  1. Still too expensive for me. Still to be convinced personally. See how it goes in the first 12 months.

  2. So its just the cheaper not as good as the other 2 product

    • In the same way a High end Gaming PC is about 3/4 times as expensive as a PS4 … yes…..

      • What? Think you replied to wrong person

      • He was saying that you get what you pay for. If you want a high end gaming PC with mega specs, it is obviously going to cost more.

        Same goes for these headsets, if you want the best you will have to pay for it. Sony have always been open about it not being as good as other headsets but being cheaper.

      • Oh right I see lol

  3. Serious question, does anyone know how long the PSVR headset cable is? I can imagine a lot of people wanting it tucked out of sight rather than trailing all over their living rooms. The standout stat above is the price, Sony will make a mint if they open the headset up for third party use. I bet they don’t :)

    • The beauty of VR is that you can sit behind your TV and still feel like you’re on a tropical island. It might actually be more immersive, because you’ll have a nice warm breeze coming out the back of the PS4. Even when sat on the other side of the room, you won’t be able to see the cable when the headset is on your face.

      But seriously… the little black box connects to the PS4 with HDMI and USB 3. You can use whatever cables you want of whatever length you want to put that box wherever you want. The connection from headset to the processor unit is 1 HDMI and 1 proprietary “AUX” cable it seems, but the image I’ve seen for what’s in the box also show a coiled up cable to add at least a couple of meters to the cable that comes out the back of the HMD.

      Given the standard interfaces, you can expect some clever cookie to reverse engineer the PS VR in about 72 hours after release.

      • PSVR will be great for engineering that pesky dinosaur DNA. God knows those velociraptors could do with being a wee bit more docile and old John Hammond could learn to spare a few expenses here and there.

    • It’s 5 metres.

  4. I don’t think the resolution difference really matters, based on the horrific looking games I’ve seen so far.

    PSVR is £150 cheaper than Rift, but Rift comes with an actual game (rather than a shitty demo ie. playroom) and doesn’t need a camera, so by the time you factor that in, it’s more like £60 cheaper, which isn’t much if the difference is significant.

    I underdtand you need an insane PC, but even at £350, VR was always gonna be a very niche, hardcore gamer market, which is why all these quirky casual games are gonna flop so badly.

  5. Nice roundup of the different specs, i’m surprised to learn that PSVR has the heaviest headset of the three but i understand the weight is well distributed thanks to the design.
    I also didn’t realise that you get everything included with the Vive (minus the PC), so the price for that makes more sense to me now.
    The PSVR price is great – not low enough to capture the casually interested crowd but a very attractive entrypoint for anyone who wants to get into VR. According to Sony, optimising for PS4 can deliver 60% more performance than doing the same with a similarly specced pc – whatever that translates to in reality but it might help PS4 stay comparative to the other experiences for the next few years – until the next VR evolution at least.

    • Yeah, I think that weight comes from the plastic halo sat around the crown of your head. The numbers for the Rift and Vive are off Wikipedia – I sadly couldn’t find an official source – but they both have more simplistic rubbery strapping to clamp the headset to your face, where the PS VR dangles it in front of you a little bit.

      All three should be light enough for decently lengthy gaming sessions without too much strain. You’ll be more uncomfortable from the warmth around your eyes well before you get neck pain.

      • Ah yes of course , an enclosed unit with a screen is bound to get warm after a bit, only so much you can ventilate without adding a fan. It’s probably just as well they’ve designed it with that gap in that case.

  6. I think PSVR price is really impressive. I was expecting £100 more than that..

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