PlayStation VR | A Detailed Look at What’s in the Box

PSVR_BoxSony has finally announced PlayStation VR will ship worldwide next October at a suggested retail price of $399 USD. But what exactly will you get for that money? Let’s take a look.

Click image for hi-res version

Click image for hi-res version

[1] Stereo headphones

A pair of in-ear stereo headphones for 3D binaural audio delivery right into your ears. Its 3,5 mm plug goes into the dedicated jack located on one side of the inline remote [3]. That’s why its cord is so short…

It’s worth mentioning that 3D binaural audio doesn’t need sophisticated headphones to be fully appreciated. Binaural soundwaves are “pre-spatialized”, so to speak, meaning the signal entering your ear canal has been altered (by the Processor Unit [6]) in such a way to trick your brain into believing it’s originating from a specific spot in the 3D space.

It’s a kind of magic, yeah.

All that said, you can use any headset you like as long as it’s connected to the jack on the inline remote (wireless is not supported apparently).

[2] PlayStation VR Headset

Your door to the virtual world. Labeled as product code CUH-ZVR1, the PlayStation VR headset weights 610g (excluding the cable) and measures 187×185×277 mm (width × height × length, excludes largest projection, headband at the shortest).

Thanks to its (quite clever) “halo” design, the PlayStation VR visor doesn’t press onto the user’s face, but rather “hangs” in front of it.

The eye relief (distance between eyes and optics) can be further adjusted by manually pulling/pushing the whole visor back and forth while holding a button located on the bottom (see picture below). Prescription glasses are fully “supported”.

Unlike PC headsets like Vive and Rift, PlayStation VR does not provide means to mechanically adjust the optics to match the user’s IPD (interpupillary distance). Apparently the lenses accommodate a wide range of IPDs as is.

Sony hasn’t provided any straight numbers but according to some assumptions on my part (don’t quote me on this – I might be wrong) it should support IPDs ranging from 55 to 71 mm (FYI, average adult IPD is about 63 mm). It goes without saying the virtual IPD (distance between the two cameras representing your eyes into the virtual world) will be adjustable via software (and possibly stored in the user profile).

At the heart of the PlayStation VR headset there is a 1920×1080 pixels (960×1080 per eye) 5,7″ Full-RGB OLED panel refreshing at either 90Hz or 120Hz. User’s head rotation is detected at 1000Hz by the embedded three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer, while its relative position is detected by the PlayStation Camera, which tracks the glowing LED markers located on the headset (there are 9 of them).

Even tho the PlayStation Camera is not included in the package, it is required for the headset to function.

Finally but not least important, a microphone for voice chat/recognition is embedded in the headset (pictured below).

Bottom view of the PSVR headset. Notice the eye relief adjustment button on the left and the microphone on the right. (Click image for hi-res version).

Bottom view of the PSVR headset. Notice the eye relief adjustment button on the left and the microphone on the right.
(Click image for hi-res version).

[3] Inline Remote

Located along the cable connecting the PSVR HMD to the Processor Unit, this remote allows to turn the device on/off, mute the mic and adjust the volume of the audio coming from the headphones.

A closer look at the PSVR remote. Headphones plug goes into a 3,5 mm jack located on the left side (not pictured but trust me it's there). Click picture for hi-res version.

A closer look at the PSVR inline remote. Headphones plug goes into a 3,5 mm jack located on the left side.
(Click image for hi-res version)

[4] USB cable

This USB cable connects the PS4 to the Processor Unit. One end is standard USB size and goes into one of the two USB ports located on the front of the PS4. The other one is micro-USB and goes into the PU (on the back). Even tho it’s “just” a USB cable, there is a lot of stuff going on through its wires.

First: it feeds the PS4 with sensor data coming from the headset (through the PU) at 1000Hz. We are talking rotation only data. Positional data is processed via image analysis of the video feed provided by the PS Camera connected to the AUX port on the back of the PS4.

Second: it sends discrete mono audio samples along with the respective information (position in 3D space) to the 3D audio processor included in the Processor Unit which then puts it all together to generate 3D audio to be sent to the headphones connected to the inline remote.

Third: when using the Social Screen in Separate Mode (think The Playroom VR), a 720p/30fps H.264-encoded video generated inside the PS4 (leveraging its Share functionality) runs through the cable and into the Processor Unit, which decodes the stream and sends it to the TV via its HDMI TV output.

Fourth: sends your voice picked up by the PSVR microphone back to the PS4.

That’s a lot of traffic isn’t it?

[5] HDMI cable

When setting up the PlayStation VR, you’ll need to unplug the PS4 HDMI cable from your TV and plug it into the “HDMI PS4” port (that’s basically an “HDMI IN” port) located on the back of the PSVR Processor Unit.

Right beside that port there is another one labeled “HDMI TV”. The extra HDMI cable included in the PSVR kit is meant to connect this port to the TV.

[6] Processor Unit

The Processor Unit is a fundamental companion of the PlayStation VR albeit not as “heavy lifting” as you might have heard.

This little box serves the purpose of generating 3D binaural audio, splitting and unwrapping the stereo image (fully) rendered by the PS4 for Social Screen display in Mirror Mode, decoding H.264 video for Social Screen display in Separate Mode or Cinematic Mode (which allows to play standard PS4 games on a virtual screen in a virtual environment).

Oh, and it acts as a fancy AC adaptor for the HMD, which is one of the reasons it requires active cooling.

Behind the Processor Unit. (From left to right) HDMI OUT (to the TV) and IN (from the PS4) ports, micro-USB port, power socket, fan. (Click image for hi-res version)

Behind the Processor Unit. (From left) HDMI OUT (to the TV) and IN (from the PS4) ports, micro-USB port, power socket, fan.
(Click image for hi-res version)

[7] VR headset connection cable

This “two headed” cable is kind of like an extension cord as it connects the cable coming from the HMD to the Processor Unit through a little, flat connector. The two “heads” are actually an HDMI port and an AUX port, the former feeding the HMD panel with juicy stereoscopic virtual reality awesomeness at up to 120Hz, the latter transmitting ready-to-be-enjoyed 3D audio in one direction and HMD sensor data plus voice chat coming from the HMD in the other.

The AUX cable does also power the HMD itself.

[8] AC Power Cord and [9] AC Adaptor

They both power the Processor Unit, which then again powers the HMD (via the AUX port).

I guess that’s it. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments section below.