Sony PlayStation VR v HTC Vive: Which VR headset is worth the money?

It's not all about Oculus, y'know
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Oculus Rift may be the poster child of virtual reality, but it's not the only option - Playstation VR and HTC Vive are equally impressive in their own ways.

Both HTC's and Sony's headsets offer different games and controls compared to the Rift, but the former is still tethered to a PC, and the latter to a console.

We've already put both head to head with Oculus' headset in our Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive and Oculus Rift vs PlayStation VR pieces, but for good measure let's see how Sony's futuristic looking PS4 accessory stacks up to HTC's and Valve's hardware.

Sony PlayStation VR v HTC Vive: Design and comfort

Sony PlayStation VR v HTC Vive: Which VR headset is worth the money?

Sony's PlayStation VR headset has a bit of futuristic flair and is much more likely to elicit gasps of envy from your friends when they come round to check out your new virtual reality wares. It's not all cosmetic though - Sony has stuck some of the tech above the googles to help distribute the weight relatively evenly around your head, something HTC's Vive doesn't do as well. It's not something that is an issue when you first slide a headset on but for 15 minute+ sessions, comfort becomes more important.

In-depth: PlayStation VR review

As for the Vive, it's less of a bulky black box than it looks. Both the PlayStation VR and Vive can be used if you wear glasses, both require separate earphones (PS VR comes bundled with a pair) and Sony's headset has a quick release button to make it easier to get it on and off.

In general, these two have got the upper hand over the Rift in terms of comfort. The notches for the glasses-wearers on Vive and the adjustable quick release on PS VR make for added comfort. You get a bit sweatier with Vive on though since you're moving around more, and for some, it may start to feel a tad heavy. PS VR is more snug, but it's primarily a seated experience.

HTC Vive v Sony PlayStation VR: Display

Sony PlayStation VR v HTC Vive: Which VR headset is worth the money?

The PlayStation VR has one 5.7-inch 1920 x 1080 OLED display inside the headset. It features RGB subpixels and is split to deliver a 960 x 1080 picture to each eye.

The Vive offers two OLED displays with a total resolution of 2160 x 1200 and a 90Hz refresh rate - which is 233 million pixels rendered per second, and the minimum spec to keep you from spewing everywhere.

In-depth: HTC Vive review

The Vive also has a slightly wider viewing angle of 110 degrees horizontally to the PlayStation VR's 100 degrees. As is often the case with these types of comparisons, it's swings and roundabouts, as Sony's 120Hz refresh rate bests HTC's. Even though early games won't run at 120 FPS, Sony's tweaks means everything should look smooth and in theory, help to reduce motion sickness.

The Vive also lets you see your real-world surroundings via a front-facing camera and its chaperone feature, while you'll need to slide up the PS VR headset to see where you put your phone.

Really, they both come out very similar in terms of visual quality, so you needn't worry about getting a better or worse deal depending on your choice.

HTC Vive v Sony PlayStation VR: Tracking and controls

Sony PlayStation VR v HTC Vive: Which VR headset is worth the money?

Sony's PlayStation Camera tracks the nine LED sensors around the headset 1,000 times a second, and can even track the back of your head, which allows you to look behind you in a VR environment.

PlayStation VR also has its own 3D spatial sound engine - no surprise given Sony's expertise in this area - although it only works with wired stereo headphones.

As for controls, some seated games use the DualShock 4 controller, which is spatially aware (thanks to that blue tracking light on the back) but really you want to be sure you get a pair PlayStation Move controllers, as games are best played with these. There's even an upcoming gun peripheral, the PS VR Aim, which is launching in time for the title Farpoint.

Read next: Hands on with Fove's eye-tracking VR headset

All that said, the PS VR is still mainly a seated experience, while HTC Vive allows you to move around. The Vive uses Valve's Lighthouse tech to track your head and hand movements around a 15 x 15 foot space via two basestations that are placed in corners of the room. The Vive headset and two wireless controllers have 70 sensors between them and there's more scope to play while standing up and moving around, if you have enough space in your house/flat.

HTC hasn't put as much of an emphasis on spatial sound as Oculus and Sony but the Vive headset supports 3D, directional sound so the option for devs is there to use it. Surprisingly, the sound is still very good despite the tiny earbuds you get in the box. You can of course swap them out for any other pair of cans - which we highly recommend for a more immersive experience.

Sony PlayStation VR v HTC Vive: Games

Sony PlayStation VR v HTC Vive: Which VR headset is worth the money?

With the PS VR only just out the gate, its library is understandably smaller than the Vive's, but it has a decent lineup nonetheless. You can see our full list of the best current and upcoming games for PS VR, but there's certainly not a dearth of content.

Among our favourites right now are Rocksteady's Arkham VR (which earned a Highly Commended in the 2016 Wareable Awards), Crytek's Robinson: The Journey, psychedelic rail-shooter Rez Infinite, and The London Heist. There's a good mix of adventure, shooting and driving available right now, although we've found ourselves getting a bit queasy with some of the vehicle-based games - namely Driveclub VR.

There's also plenty more to come in the coming months, with Resident Evil VII Biohazard and Gran Turismo Sport getting us particularly excited - although we'll be waiting until 2017 on those.

Read this: The best Sony PlayStation VR games

On the HTC Vive side, we've enjoyed seeing the roster of games steadily grow. In fact, there are so many now we can hardly keep up, with hundreds of titles on Steam offering Vive support.

Many make good use of the room scale tracking, such as Hover Junkers, Job Simulator and Elite: Dangerous. The vast library means there's a lot of variation, although we can't say that all of the content is worth your time. Titles like Google's Tilt Brush, which lets you paint masterpieces in virtual reality, mean the Vive has a few more Wii Sports-type titles - ie showcases for a broader demographic beyond the more serious gamers.

Many games play across the Oculus Rift and the Vive, but some are Oculus exclusives right now (or will be when they arrive), so it's worth knowing which ones those are if you're considering a Vive.

HTC Vive v Sony PlayStation VR: Price

Sony PlayStation VR v HTC Vive: Which VR headset is worth the money?

The HTC Vive headset costs a pretty penny at which is more expensive than an Oculus Rift but it does include two controllers, which the Rift currently lacks, along with the Lighthouse base stations, some ear buds plus copies of a few games. You also need to make sure you have a PC powerful enough to run it. That may run you into a higher cost, so you'll need to factor that into your sums.

The Sony PS VR has a more accessible price of , but remember you need a PS4 to use it. You can choose to get the headset alone or in a bundle with the PlayStation Camera and Move controllers. A game disc with demos will also be part of the package.

Must-read: The best VR games

Additionally, Sony's new PS4 upgrade - the PS4 Pro - will run some PS VR games better than the standard console. You'll get higher graphical detailing on some titles, but regular PS4 users will still get a good experience. Upgrading the console will cost you and you can pick one up now.

Sony PlayStation VR v HTC Vive: Verdict

Your PlayStation VR versus Vive decision will largely depend on whether you have a PS4, a PC and - in the case of both - which one you want to use to game in VR. Comparing the two isn't easy, as their target audiences don't completely overlap.

Vive is worth a look if you think you can put down the cash for a PC to run the games, since room-scale tracking gives VR a fantastic new dimension. There are more experiences added daily and while a lot are demos or shorter titles, you still have plenty of options to choose from.

But if you feel like you're better off VR gaming on the couch, as you would normally for console playing, the PS VR is obviously the more affordable option. There's a good lineup of games already available too, so you won't be short on things to play.

With PS VR, you also don't have to shuffle your house around to make room for the Sony headset - just your entertainment system area for the single camera. Vive makes you move around more including walking, ducking and swinging your arms around. With PlayStation VR, it'll probably just be the latter plus sitting, turning around to look at things and occasionally just standing - similar to Rift's experience.

When it comes down to it, it's really a matter of convenience and cost - what are you willing to sacrifice for VR?


How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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