Pass-through supports 4K but not HDR
Sony is launching two pieces of cutting-edge technology this fall: the PlayStation VR headset in 10 days, and the 4K-compatible PlayStation 4 Pro about a month afterward. PSVR games will run better on the Pro’s more powerful hardware, but people who buy a Pro for high dynamic range (HDR) color — arguably the most highly touted feature of the console — will hit a snag if they have a PSVR headset hooked up to their television.
The PSVR headset connects to a PS4 through an external box known as the Processor Unit. The device doesn’t provide any extra graphical power; instead, it acts as an HDMI splitter, allowing the PS4 to output images to a second screen such as a television, and also handles audio processing for 3D sound.
Here’s how the connections work: The headset hooks up to the PS4 via USB, and connects to the Processor Unit with a hybrid HDMI and auxiliary cable; the box connects to the PS4 and TV with separate HDMI cables.
In a lengthy FAQ for PSVR, Sony said today that the Processor Unit supports pass-through for non-VR content. That means that even if you’ve got a PSVR headset hooked up to your TV via the Processor Unit, you’ll be able to use your PS4 as usual — as long as the box is plugged in and the headset is off. That also applies for the PS4 Pro and 4K content, since the pass-through feature can handle 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) at up to 60 frames per second.
However, Sony noted that the Processor Unit’s pass-through functionality does not support HDR at any resolution. (Neither does PSVR itself.) So if you want to play HDR content from a PS4 or PS4 Pro, you’ll have to connect the console directly to your HDR-capable TV — without the PSVR Processor Unit as a middleman. That means unplugging the PS4’s HDMI cable from the unit and connecting it straight to your TV.