Right now there are four big branded VR headsets fighting it out for the VR market. There’s the HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift and PSVR, with the last on this list debuting yesterday. To help guide you through this minefield, we’re going to conduct a brief VR comparison with the aim of picking an early winner.
It’s been 24 hours since the store doors opened and consumers were able to purchase the PSVR, and while we don’t have any sales figures to share with you, it’s not expected to fly off the shelves anytime soon. Yes, the device does have the potential to reach 40+ million PS4 owners, but at $499 and extras on top, it’s not expected to sell like hotcakes. Well, not yet anyway, but with the release of the PS4 Pro in November, a spike in sales could be on the cards.
As for setting up the PSVR, it does come with meters/feet/yards of cable, but it is considered to be the easiest cabled VR headset to setup, which is thanks to it using the PS4 as a crutch.
However, there is a downside, and that’s what’s in the box. There’s no PlayStation Camera, which is needed to track the lights on the headset. So if you don’t have one, you’d best get one. Additionally, there’s no controller. Instead, you can use the PS4 Dualshock controller, but it won’t provide a full in-game experience. So there’s even more expense due to the need for Move controllers, which just makes the PSVR feel like a money-hungry beast.
As much room is required when gaming, Sony recommends an area of 9.8 ft. deep by 6.2 ft. wide. Some early reports suggest that a smaller amount of space is possible, but there can be problems with cables. Despite being a connected device, the PSVR, according to early reports, does provide an immersive experience. It may not have the sophistication of the HTC Vive or Occulus Rift, but at $499 plus extras, it’s certainly a lot cheaper.
Setting up the HTC Vive is a little more complex than setting up the PSVR. To start with, there are more cables, but there are also tracking boxes and tripods, which, unless you’re dedicated to the experience or have a dedicated space, can be a little overwhelming.
As for price, you’re looking at paying somewhere in the region of $799, which is just for the headset alone. You may have to dip your hand into your pocket if a more powerful PC is required, and if that is the case, the cost just went through the roof.
One additional consideration for would-be Vive users is whether to use the headset at room scale or not. If you don’t have that kind of free space, which most don’t, you’ll have to opt for a smaller space. This will mean that you will be limited to the number of games you can play because room scale games are why the Vive was created; it’s not like a PSVR built for living room use.
Reports from users of the Vive suggest it can be temperamental, with tracking boxes randomly not syncing and controllers disappearing. However, the device does come with great support, and often just an update or restart solves most problems.
The second of the PSVR competitors is the Oculus Rift, and like the Vive, it needs a PC to work. Also where the others take time, the Oculus can take an age; seriously, the headset requires due care and attention.
You needs two USB 3.0 ports, as USB 2.0 just won’t work. You also need at least an NVIDIA GTX960 or AMD RX480 graphics card and a spare HDMI port on the card. And this is before you’ve plugged in the headset, downloaded the Oculus installer, or even gotten to the Oculus app, all of which makes the probably 20-minute setup of the PSVR seem like child’s play.
As for the price, you’re looking at $600, but if your PC isn’t up to scratch, you could add $1,000+ on top of that, which is a lot to pay for a gaming system that you haven’t used before. Take our advice: do some research before you buy, and try to find someone who will let you give it a try.
Concerning its stability, unlike the un-syncing problems experienced with the Vive, it’s pretty stable. In fact, users have reported that it works each and every time they have switched it on, which is great considering how potentially expensive it could be.
Unlike the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PSVR, the Gear VR is the first smartphone-compatible device, meaning that setup requires no cables, and all that is needed is a compatible Samsung smartphone. At the time of writing this article, the following were compatible: Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy Note 7, Galaxy S6/S6 Edge/S6 Edge Plus, and Galaxy S7/S7 Edge. So to set up the Gear VR, you just slide in your handset, load the Oculus launcher app, and strap the headset to your face.
Once you have the device on, it’s as simple as browsing the app. However, you can’t compare the experience to the 3D motion tracking done by the other devices. Instead, it uses the sensors of your smartphone, the camera, accelerometer, and gyroscope to help you move around a 3D environment. It certainly is the cheapest option though at $99, and once you have it, you’ll just need the Oculus app to enjoy a VR mobile gaming experience.
If you don’t have the PC requirements to meet the needs of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and you still want a believable VR experience, go with the PSVR, assuming you have a PS4, that is. Not only is it slightly cheaper at $499 than both the other cabled devices, but it will more than likely gather some AAA titles pretty quickly, which is what a gaming device needs.
However, if you’re not a PS4 owner and don’t intend to be, your only option from the above is the Gear VR. At $99, it’s cheap by comparison but again has its own requirements, with those being one from a list of Samsung smartphones.