The PS4's camera accessory, officially called the PlayStation Camera, is sold separately from the console. If you don't have it, you might wonder if the PS Camera is closer to an essential accessory or a silly toy.
Let's take a look at uses for the PS4 camera to see what you can do with this accessory.
PlayStation Camera Basics
The PlayStation Camera for PS4 is a small black unit that should fit nicely into most TV setups. You can place it either below or on your TV, depending on how your room is set up. The Camera includes a stand you can use to adjust its angle.
It's a decent device, with each of the two cameras having a resolution of 1280x800. It captures a maximum frame rate of 240FPS. You simply connect the camera to your PS4 using a proprietary cable that connects to a port on the back of your console.
In September 2016, Sony released a second revision of the camera. The newer model is cylindrical instead of rectangular, though it's almost the same otherwise.
The PS Camera has several functions. The simplest is acting as a traditional camera for filming you in your living room. In addition, it can record audio, thanks to the built-in microphones. This allows you to chat with teammates in online games, even if you don't have a headset or other mic.
It also functions as a Kinect-style device for motion-controlled games, used in conjunction with the light bar on the back of the PS4 controller or the PlayStation Move controllers.
Because it has a microphone, the Camera lets you command your PS4 using voice controls, with functions such as launching a game or returning to the home screen by saying "PlayStation." However, you can also do this with any other microphone, including the basic earbud included with the PS4.
Finally, it also offers a somewhat secure way of locally logging into your system using facial recognition. But what other perks do you get by owning a PlayStation Camera for PS4?
PlayStation VR Requires the PS Camera
While it obviously wasn't available at the system's launch, PlayStation VR is the biggest reason to buy a PS Camera if you don't already have one. It provides one of the least expensive ways to dip your toes into true virtual reality, as it doesn't require a beefy PC.
Aside from the headset itself, PS VR requires the PS Camera. For many games, you'll also need two PlayStation Move controllers.
PS VR is available in a variety of bundles, many of which include the headset, a few games, the PlayStation Camera, and sometimes the PS Move controllers. You thus likely won't have to buy the PS Camera on its own unless you buy second-hand components separately.
The Playroom is a free app that comes pre-installed on to all PS4 consoles, but requires the Camera to actually play. If you don't have the PS Camera, opening this game just plays a trailer.
The Playroom contains a collection of mini-games designed to show off the both capabilities of the PlayStation Camera and DualShock 4 controller, offering some simple fun.
There's a flying robot called Asobi, a collection of little critters called the AR Bots, a motion-controlled Pong clone, and some free DLC too. These offer occasional entertainment and are worth a look, but you probably won't spend much time here after the initial fun wears off.
PS4 Camera Games That Aren't VR
Even if you don't want to get PS VR, there are a handful of games that have special features for the PS Camera by itself. Wikipedia has a list of PS Camera compatible games; highlights include Alien: Isolation, all Just Dance games since 2014, LittleBigPlanet 3, Surgeon Simulator, and Tearaway Unfolded.
Of course, none of these games require the camera, and unless you love motion controls, you probably won't get much additional enjoyment from it. If you like party games, it might be worth the price of admission for an evening with friends messing around on Just Dance, though.
PS4 Streaming With the Camera
The PS4 makes it easy to stream video of yourself sitting in front of your TV using Twitch or YouTube. Players can also watch others broadcast their play using the Live from PlayStation app.
You don't need a PlayStation Camera to broadcast gameplay, but if you want to record yourself as you play, you'll need the Camera. If you're serious about upping your Twitch viewers, this is a must.
If you stream, check out how to build an audience for your channel.
Adjusting PS Camera Options
Finally, let's look at where to access some of the options mentioned above.
To set up facial recognition for your PS4 profile, head to Settings > Login Settings > Enable Facial Recognition. This will walk you through adding your face to protect your profile.
To start broadcasting your play via Twitch or YouTube, hit the Share button on your controller and choose Broadcast Gameplay. Then walk through the steps to sign into your preferred service and adjust options before going live.
Finally, if you don't want to use the microphone inside the PS Camera, go to Settings > Devices > PlayStation Camera and choose Mute Microphone for PlayStation Camera.
Is the PS4 Camera Worth It?
It's safe to say the PS Camera is far from an essential PS4 accessory, unless you have PlayStation VR. If you're picking up the VR headset, make sure you either get a bundle or a Camera separately, because you must have it for VR.
For everyone else, it's tough to recommend the PlayStation Camera. The Playroom is a minor distraction that you probably won't spend much time with, and the games with Camera integration are both slim and underwhelming. Having the system log you in automatically by facial recognition is neat, but if you're the only user on your PS4 it's a moot point.
And the voice commands for launching games and similar are available with any headset or microphone, so they're not a reason to pick up a Camera. You're better off putting the money towards a better gaming headset instead.
So unless you're buying it for VR, we only recommend the PlayStation Camera if you regularly stream your gameplay. The PS4 already makes streaming a simple affair, and adding a Camera so your viewers can watch your face is also easy.
Otherwise, the investment doesn't get you enough to justify the cost. This is especially the case as the PS4 is phased out and accessories aren't available at a reasonable price from official sellers any more.
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