Playstation 4 won't support USB, Bluetooth headsets; is this Sony's first major PS4 launch blunder?

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As of today we're one month out from the launch of Sony's Playstation 4 in North America. I think we can agree that Sony has, for the most part, navigated the launch waters pretty well, but last week they finally hit a rock when Game Informer posted an article about headset compatibility.

I kind of sat on this story for a few days because I was so sure Sony would post a clarification, but if they haven't done so by now I guess they won't. So here's the bad news.

At launch, USB headsets that work with the PS3 won't work with the PS4. Sony says that eventually there will be a system update that addresses the problem but for now, even your Sony-branded USB headset won't work.

If you use a Bluetooth headset (as most PS3 owners do) the news is even worse. Bluetooth headsets will not be supported and no update is planned to address this. I'm shedding a tear for my $250 Turtle Beach PX5 headset. Considering Bluetooth was more or less the default way to chat on the PS3, this limitation is dumb-founding to me, and it was what I expected a clarification from Sony on.

Here's the passage from Game Informer:

Any other headset that relies on bluetooth for chat will not work at all. If you have something that relies on USB for chat (like the Astro mixamps and Astro A50 wireless system), you'll eventually be able to use those. An update will be coming in the future.

If your headset uses digital audio for sound (as is the case with my PX5s) , you'll still be able to use it to listen, just not to chat. (I'm assuming most wireless PS3 headsets work like mine; I run a cable from the digital optical port on the PS3 to a 'base station' for the headset. That broadcasts audio to the headset. Chat is handled via pairing the mike on the headset to the PS3.)

Of course the PS4 comes with a mono earbud headset, but trying to use that and your quality headset at the same time would be problematic at best. I guess technically I could fit an earbud under the earcup of my headset but talk about a kludge...

To be fair, Xbox owners have a similar problem and you'll need to purchase an adapter to use your old Xbox 360 headset with the Xbox One. But since Microsoft uses proprietary systems that's more understandable. I would have thought that one of the benefits of Sony using standard protocols like Bluetooth would be that we didn't run into this kind of issue.

I still think there's some kind of misunderstanding here and that eventually the PS4 will support both USB and Bluetooth headsets, but for now I'm just reporting what Sony is telling Game Informer.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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