Update January 26: We added more information about PPI vs PPD.
PlayStation VR2 should have the most pixel-dense display of any modern VR headset, according to a report by Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC). In his weekly industry supply chain report, DSCC CEO Ross Young says he won’t reveal the display supplier for Sony’s next-gen PS VR2, but that the screen itself boasts a display of over 800 PPI (pixels per inch) density per eye.
That last part is particularly important because it means Sony might be able to deliver the highest graphical fidelity of any VR headset on the market.
To put things into perspective, the original PSVR provided a PPI density of 386 for the full billboard. In fact, that means 193 PPI per eye if we do some basic math.
Young says Sony is likely achieving this through a combination of a thinner metal bezel and the use of RGB stripe direct-view OLED displays. As a basic explanation, thin metal masks are used to apply red, green, and blue subpixels to the display.
The original PSVR also used an RGB strip OLED panel, which ensured the display was considerably better than most OLED panels in other VR headsets back in 2016 when it launched. Those other headsets — the original Oculus Rift and HTC Vive — used PenTile OLED panels, which are made up of diamond-shaped sub-pixels.
The Oculus Quest 2’s RGB stripe panel compared to the original Oculus Quest’s OLED PenTileSource: Android Central
An RGB striped display uses a column of red. green and blue pixels that can be more easily aligned side-by-side on a screen for a dense display. Comparatively, a PenTile diamond shape leaves gaps in the pixel structure when placed side by side.
Sony previously introduced new micro OLED display panels in December 2021, which have been specially designed for virtual reality and offer an astonishing 4k resolution per inch. These panels aren’t the same ones used in the PS VR2 but could represent the next big leap in VR resolution.
While pixel density has been the talk of the town for smartphone displays for quite some time, the average smartphone seems to have around 500 pixels per inch. Having more pixels per physical inch is more important in VR simply because your eyes are physically closer to the screen, which means you can actually see the pixels themselves up close.
The PS VR2 sports a resolution of 2000 x 2040 per eye while its biggest competitor, the Oculus Quest 2, caters to gamers’ optical nerves with a slightly less dense resolution of 1832 x 1920 per eye. Add to that the fact that the PPI for the Quest 2 is a bit lower – around 200-300 PPI per eye – and you’ll quickly start to see the huge advantage Sony could have when directly comparing specs and image quality. .
However, many say that the PPI is not that important when considering the final image quality that the human eye perceives in a VR headset. For this assessment, you’ll want to calculate the PPD, or pixels per degree. PPD is the measurement of the number of pixels your eye can perceive in a 1 by 1 degree area.
From what we know – and the fact that the PS VR2 lenses offer a wider field of view of about 20 degrees – the Quest 2 and PS VR2 have roughly the same PPD measurement. Both headsets should have a PPD measurement of around 20, while the “retina” resolution – that’s the measurement of when the human eye can no longer perceive individual pixels – is closer to 60 PPD.
The PS VR2’s extremely high PPI will likely help reduce screen dooring and noticeable walling, but the resulting image might not be as sharp as “800 PPI per eye” initially seems.
This also explains one of the main reasons why Sony is banking on eye tracking with foveal rendering on the PS VR2. By ensuring that the center of a gamer’s vision is always rendered at the highest resolution – an effect achieved by tracking eye movements and moving that high resolution center to follow it – Sony will be able to deliver unparalleled visual quality with PS VR2.
This kind of incredibly high display density almost certainly means Sony is using very small screens which, combined with other rumors and what we know about the PS VR2, could indicate that Sony is releasing a headset that is physically much smaller than originally planned.
Since Sony still equips the PS VR2 with a single USB Type-C cable to connect to the PS5, a very small and lightweight headset size could be a big positive for the next-gen VR headset when designing the helmet will finally be unveiled.
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