Sony's virtual reality headset, the PlayStation VR, is out now, offering a sleek and powerful choice among VR headsets out in the market. It comes with a solid lineup of PlayStation 4 games out of the box, and doesn't need a sophisticated spec-exhaustive rig to get going.
Similar to its competitors like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, the PSVR offers a "cinematic mode" where a non-VR title is displayed in an immersive 2D screen inside the virtual reality space. Think of it as playing your games inside a theater all to yourself. It's a nifty added experience despite not being inherently as immersive and dynamic as dedicated virtual reality titles.
The PSVR supports cinematic mode for PS4 titles, but it can also support other consoles with a generic HDMI connection. A Japanese gaming blog has proven this to be true, reporting that a man attempted to connect his PSVR to his PC, and it ended up going into cinematic mode. Reddit user velocityseven first posted the news over at the PSVR subreddit. Upon discovery, Ars Technica quickly tested if it was true, adding more consoles into the mix.
Ars Technica confirmed that Xbox One and Wii U games showed up in cinematic mode when connected to the PSVR, even displaying a Windows desktop when they plugged it into a PC tower. They weren't able to connect PSVR to other HDMI sources such as cable boxes or even Ouya, for example, but Ars Technica assumes these devices would probably work alongside the consoles they were able to test out.
There was virtually no display latency or lag, as reported by Ars Technica. The cinematic mode worked very well and didn't cause any gameplay snags for the connected non-PS4 consoles. And as an added bonus, the audio source works just as well with the headset's headphone jack, too. The video signal can also be pushed to an external TV via the Processor unit that comes with the PSVR. For any of this to work, however, the box has to be plugged on an outlet.
Of course, as previously mentioned, these games won't show up as full-blown virtual reality experiences. They simply show up in a large 2D screen hovering in front of the user, which is a nice added functionality considering that the Rift and the Vive only support cinematic mode for PCs.
It's not clear whether developers of the PSVR consciously added this extra functionality. Hopefully, they won't disable the feature via software updates in the future, as the feature makes the already competitive PSVR a bang for the buck compared with other, more expensive alternatives.
The PSVR was released on Oct. 13 for $399.99, featuring a high-end 1080p OLED screen with a refresh rate of 120 Hz, a lot higher compared with the Vive and the Rift's 90 Hz. It requires a PS4 in order to run, and it comes with 18 playable games in a demo disc out of the box.