Sony’s PlayStation VR headset has finally hit store shelves, and right now people across the world are tucking into the first console virtual reality games.
But the headset is actually much more versatile than Sony has given credit for. Not only can you use it for 360-degree photos and videos on the PS4 natively, but you can also hook the headset up to literally any device that uses HDMI with some pretty interesting results.
So once you’ve played through all the games on your PlayStation VR demo disc, why not give one of these other use cases a go.
By now you’ve probably seen more than your fair share of 360-degree videos on Facebook and YouTube, but you can also view this sort of media through the PlayStation VR.
There’s just one (fairly significant) catch, and that’s the fact that you can’t actually view online photos and videos using the headset.
Instead you’ll need to use 360-degree videos stored locally on the console.
It’s functionality that’s promising for the future rather than immediately very helpful, and we’re hopeful that Google updates its PS4 YouTube app to make use of the headset.
But nevertheless, if you’ve got a bunch of 360 videos or photos sitting on your computer, you can finally give them the bold PS4 presentation they’ve been so desperately needing.
There’s no getting around the fact that compared to the total amount of games out there, the number of virtual reality titles is relatively small in comparison.
But your non-VR PS4 games can still be played using your new headset if you want to make maximum use of your new hardware.
It might feel like a lower resolution than your HD TV, but the effect works surprisingly well. The headset uses its motion tracking to fix the 2D screen in place, which effectively makes you feel as though you’re playing games on a virtual cinema screen.
On its own this wouldn’t be a very helpful feature (after all we’d bet that 100% of PS4 owners also use a TV), but if you share your TV with family or housemates then this could be a great way of playing PS4 games while the TV is in use.
So say goodbye to fights over the television, because in the future the gamer in the household can just escape into virtual reality.
The PlayStation VR is hooked up to your PS4 in a pretty unique way in that its processing box intersects the HDMI cable between your console and television.
In contrast, both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive make use of the second video output that’s common on most gaming PCs.
This passthrough box that’s used by the PlayStation VR box means that you can hook it up to anything that’s connected to a TV or monitor over HDMI.
So if you want to hook up your headset to your Xbox One, Wii U, or even an Ouya if you’re feeling wild, then it’s perfectly possible thanks to the magic of HDMI.
The catch (because there’s always a catch isn’t there?) is that you’ll still need the headset’s processing box to be connected up to a PS4 to get the headset to work.
This, combined with the comparatively low resolution of the PSVR’s screen, means that this is hardly the best way of playing your games, but it might work in a pinch if you have to share your TV.
Online gaming is great, but nothing beats playing games in the same room as friends.
Split-screen gaming is one way of scratching the itch, but ideally you all want to have your own screen to minimise incidents of cheating and to maximise screen real-estate.
But short of carrying a monitor or TV around to someone’s house, it’s very hard to actually get a screen to yourself, unless you’re literally besties with a Richie Rich-type who owns a harem of televisions.
That said, the PSVR headset could be an excellent alternative if you want to have your own screen all to yourself when playing PS4 in the same room as someone else.
So the next time you want to meet up with some friends for a Destiny LAN party, why not carry a PlayStation VR round instead of your bulky monitor?
But maybe you don’t want to watch a movie or play a game. Maybe instead you want to relax by responding to some emails, or perhaps settle down with a good spreadsheet.
Well now you can do all this (and more!) using your PlayStation VR headset through exactly the same method that allows you to use it with every HDMI games console under the sun.
Simply plug your headset in between your PC and monitor, load up your office productivity suite of choice, and go wild at a resolution that’s probably just slightly too low to get anything done.
We feel obliged to point out that the HTC Vive also has this functionality, but at just under half the price, the PlayStation VR is certainly worth considering if you’re looking to do sub-par office work on the cheap.
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