PlayStation VR is a great headset and has an expanding library of games with a few standouts that really make it worth the money. Just because it has PlayStation in the name, however, doesn't exactly mean you need a PlayStation 4 to use it.
To indulge your curiosity and to help some of you decide if you should buy a PSVR on its own, we explain how the PSVR works and how to use it without a PlayStation 4.
The current state of PlayStation VR
PlayStation VR, in our opinion, holds the title for most comfortable head-mounted display thanks to a halo headset mount that allows the front display to sort of hang down rather than be strapped to your face. The display inside also has the least screen-door effect so far thanks to more subpixels than the Vive and Rift.
Every PSVR headset must be plugged into an included processing unit that deals with 3D audio and the function of mirroring the image on the headset's display and on a separate TV at the same time — this social element is undoubtedly one of the best parts of PlayStation VR.
Without the processing unit, the PSVR is pretty much useless. Likewise, in most cases, you won't be able to use the PSVR for actual virtual reality (i.e. more than just a cinematic mode) without plugging its USB cable into a PlayStation 4 or by using third-party software. That's just the way it goes. Luckily, savvy PSVR owners have taken it upon themselves to get their headset's VR function working with PC and Mac.
Using PSVR with your PC
Without having a PS4 around to plug the USB cable into or without using third-party software, you won't have a very good time using your PSVR with a PC.
For example, there is a method where you plug the PSVR into itself before plugging it into your PC — this method does not require plugging the USB cable into a PS4.
Plug the PSVR's HDMI cable directly into your PC, bypassing the processing unit.
Plug the PSVR's power/connection cable into the processing unit.
Plug an HDMI cable into the HDMI PS4 port on the processing unit. You're essentially plugging the processing unit into itself with this HDMI cable.
Plug the same HDMI cable into the HDMI port on the front of the processing unit.
Plug the 12V power cable into the processing unit.
You can watch 3D side-by-side videos this way, but that's about it. There's no head tracking and there's no cinematic mode to play your 2D games on a huge screen. If you want to truly use your PSVR on PC, you need third-party software.
A user named gusmanb on GitHub created an open-source framework for using PSVR with PC. It gives you control over your PSVR by plugging the USB cable into your PC — no need for a PS4 — so that you can enjoy cinematic mode with pretty much any game or video.
We will be creating a guide on how to use PSVR Framework once we've tested it out, but for now, you can check out the GitHub page that contains a How To.
If you'd like to take things a step further and use your PSVR with actual VR games in your Steam library, you need a program like Trinus PSVR.
The fine folks over at Odd Sheep Gaming have created this software to allow your PC to practically act like a PS4, VR games and all. This software is a work in progress, but we got it working and enjoyed a VR game made for Oculus Rift.
To get Trinus PSVR working properly, check out our full guide to playing Steam games on PSVR.
Using PSVR with your Mac
Like your PC, you need a bit of third-party software to get your PSVR working with macOS. Another GitHub member, emoRaivis, created MacMorpheus, a 3D, 180/360-degree video player with head tracking for your PSVR.
I had it up and running in just a few minutes and got to enjoy a 3D, 360-degree video without a hitch. For info on getting your Mac working with your PSVR, head over to our full guide to setting up and using MacMorpheus.
Using PSVR with your Xbox One
Plugging your PSVR's processing unit straight into an Xbox One works great in cinematic mode — a large screen sits in front of you and you can move your head around without moving the screen. While it doesn't offer any sort of 3D or real VR functionality, it is sometimes fun to play games on a screen that makes you feel like you're at a movie theater.
For more information on using a PSVR with an Xbox One, Windows Central has a great post on "forming the unholy union".
Using PlayStation VR without an actual PlayStation 4 can be done; however, you're limiting what the headset can do. If you use it with a Mac, you'll only be able to watch 3D videos. If you use it with PC, the software required is still in its infancy and doesn't quite make spending the money on a PSVR worthwhile. If you use PSVR with an Xbox One, you're stuck with cinematic mode. Our recommendation? Don't get a PSVR unless you plan on mainly using it with a PlayStation 4.
Does your opinion differ? Let us know if you've been using your PSVR without a PlayStation 4!
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