Pimax Crystal hands-on: a headset with astonishing visible readability


At present I host one other improbable visitor submit written by VR ergonomics knowledgeable (and good friend of mine) Rob Cole. Rob is an enormous fan of PCVR (he even tried to design a brand new SteamVR controller, do you bear in mind?) and lately he had the chance to go hands-on with the high-resolution Pimax Crystal headset. He needed to put in writing on my weblog his opinion on this machine to tell the group and naturally I accepted, as a result of I’m more than pleased to host one other certainly one of his super-detailed articles.

Rob… the stage is yours 🙂


Introducing Pimax Crystal

Following my take a look at of the Pimax Sword controllers for Skarredghost final 12 months, a possibility arose to check Pimax’s new “Crystal” VR system, boasting very high-resolution shows, glass optics optimized for readability, and their first 6DoF inside-out monitoring system with joystick movement controllers.

After their very profitable Kickstarter marketing campaign for the 8K ultra-wide headset, Pimax made their title providing the widest discipline of view within the client VR house, to the delight of many simulation and VR lovers.

The following era included the introduction of their “Actuality 12K” headset, adopted by the announcement of Crystal, which had a way more particular focus, in Pimax’s personal phrases:

“The best pixel quantity of any client VR headset, full of tons of options to boost picture high quality.”

Often known as a really bold firm, Pimax appears to be going from power to power with the Crystal and 12K headsets, in addition to bringing their modular Portal gaming console and VR headset to market alongside Crystal. 

It’s refreshing to see Pimax persevering with to develop high-end digital actuality {hardware}, while different gamers have scaled again their plans, canceled tasks, or simply provided….radio silence.

Pimax 12K (Picture by Pimax)

Concerning the 12K headset, this was nonetheless a way off, with a 12K demo deliberate for Q3 of 2023, a roadshow in This autumn, and a presentation at CES in January 2024. There may be now a great probability we may see one thing in the direction of the tip of this 12 months, with a possible launch to shoppers in 2024. That is the newest information on 12K straight from Pimax:

“The Pimax 12K QLED is processing and we’re joyful to announce we’ve accomplished over 70% of the work certifying the event of the method. A lot of the 12K QLED parts are shared with the Crystal, so you will notice the numerous shared techniques when seeing evaluations and hands-on with the Crystal.

As with every growth effort, there have been challenges with the 12K QLED that we have now to beat and some that also require optimization. The great factor concerning the work on the Crystal updates on the software program and firmware sides is sort of all of it applies to the 12K.”

After some communication with Pimax, an NDA was signed, the place I promised to not spill the beans, till the suitable time. Delivery of a Crystal pre-production pattern unit was organized with the understanding that this was to be a “PCVR Preview” as a number of {hardware} options weren’t but enabled, although bodily current within the {hardware} construct.

These new options would come with eye-tracking, dynamic foveated rendering, IPD auto-adjustment, and stand-alone mode: these will likely be enabled by way of future software program updates.  A wi-fi module and Steam VR “lighthouse” faceplate have additionally been introduced as at the moment being in growth, for launch later this 12 months. 

My preliminary take a look at was to search out out what the tethered PCVR expertise was like, earlier than having the ability to check out the complete vary of options over the following couple of months. This could be my second take a look at of {hardware} from Pimax, following final 12 months’s Sword controllers. After receiving the monitoring data for my Pimax Crystal cargo, I appeared ahead to what could be my first time utilizing a Pimax VR headset. 

Pimax Crystal and Portal
Pimax Crystal and Portal (Picture by Pimax)

The primary article on this two-article sequence is an introduction exploring the specs, exhibiting some key options and my preliminary observations of setting it up and getting it operating.  The second article of this sequence will likely be launched later this 12 months, as soon as the software program updates have enabled the additional options of the system, and will probably be doable for me to offer a extra balanced view of the Crystal as a completed product.

Unboxing

A lot faster than anticipated, my supply arrived. Many because of the advertising and marketing crew at Pimax for the usage of this mortgage unit for this “preview”, and for some longer-term testing as further options are activated with software program updates. 

Two packing containers arrived by safe courier, a big field containing the entire Crystal system (together with a fiber optic tether) and a small field containing a copper tether cable.

Images from the machine cargo (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

The outer cardboard sleeve of the massive field had taken some affect injury on one nook, most likely from bouncing across the inside a courier van beneath a bunch of different packages.

Fortunately, the Pimax field inside appeared intact, although it had a bit crease in the identical place because the outer. The inside field was fabricated from thick cardboard with foam inlay and appeared to have completed its job of defending the headset from transit injury.

pimax crystal unboxing
Headset unboxing (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

The Crystal was snugly packed, with its movement controllers finish to finish inside a foam construction to stop them from damaging the inside of the headset. A pair of batteries, a battery charging cradle, a spare “consolation” face cushion, USB leads, and fiber optic tether cable have been all included, and DMAS audio system have been already fitted (an optionally available improve).

Crystal Headset

As soon as the Crystal headset and controllers have been let out from the packaging, I sat them on a cushion in my VR room and took some pictures. Since an image paints a thousand phrases, listed below are two pictures exhibiting a few of the totally different elements of the Crystal headset, with my labels indicating the totally different elements.

pimax crystal labels
The headset and its elements (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Every part is laid out logically, although the adjustment buttons are a bit too simple to by chance press while placing on or taking off the headset, or when making changes to the match while carrying.

The interpupillary distance could be shortly adjusted utilizing two bodily buttons on the highest left face of the headset casing (as seen within the picture above) or by utilizing Pimax’s new consumer software program on the PC.

Both methodology prompts a small motor offering an adjustment vary of 58mm-72mm which ought to cater to most customers; the common IPD for women and men in lots of populations is round 64mm and 62mm respectively. There are additionally further IPD “offset” changes accessible within the Pimax PC consumer, on a per-eye foundation, to permit additional fine-tuning.

After years of utilizing mechanical IPD adjusters, it felt very sci-fi to listen to the whirring noise of the motor while the headset adjusts the lens separation. As eye monitoring and computerized IPD weren’t but working, I’d set my IPD of 63.5mm as a place to begin, taking this data from my final eye take a look at.

pimax crystal
Particulars on different elements of the Pimax Crystal (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

The Crystal makes use of a well-proven model of headset harness: an adjustable prime strap and adjustable rear cradle, with padded face and head cushions. This has labored effectively for profitable PCVR headsets just like the Vive Professional, Valve Index, and Pimax 8K, providing a helpful vary of adjustment to accommodate as many alternative head sizes and shapes as is virtually doable.

Sound is offered by extra-aural (off-ear) audio system, at all times a welcome characteristic eradicating any bodily contact or warmth build-up typical of on-ear headphones. Boasting the same BMR driver to the Valve Index, I appeared ahead to trying out the DMAS sound system with my favourite video games. 

Lastly, two cooling followers beneath the detachable faceplate present energetic cooling for the pc, reminiscence, and shows, serving to to maintain temperatures wise contained in the headset, while I couldn’t detect any noise from the followers throughout my testing.

Here’s a nearer take a look at a few of the inside elements that come collectively to create the Pimax Crystal, beginning with the show panels and optical lenses. 

Shows

Crystal makes use of BOE 3.2” LCD panels boasting a decision of 2880 x 2880 pixels per eye, offering a better decision than another client VR headset at the moment accessible in the marketplace. To present a complete decision (each eyes mixed) comparability to different headsets:

  • Pimax Crystal   5760 x 2880 pixels
  • Varjo Aero        5760 x 2720 pixels
  • Reverb G2        4320 x 2160 pixels
  • PlayStation VR2 4000 x 2040 pixels 
  • Meta Quest Professional 3840 x 1800 pixels
  • Valve Index      2880 x 1440 pixels

After all, show panel decision alone doesn’t inform the complete story, as angular decision (typically referred to as “pixels-per-degree” i.e. PPD) can also be decided by the sphere of view and the lens design. Crystal was uncommon for Pimax in having a extra common FOV in comparison with their signature ultra-wide headsets and this was particularly chosen to maximise angular decision, while nonetheless sustaining a great working discipline of view. 

The Valve Index has 13 PPD, whereas Crystal presents 35 PPD, which goes to be a major leap in resolving energy.  For reference, human imaginative and prescient (retinal decision) is 60 PPD, which will also be expressed as “one arc-minute per pixel” (arc minute).

pimax display panels
Show Panels (Picture by Pimax)

The Crystal makes use of BOE’s second-generation CLPL (custom-made low persistence liquid ) RGB vertical stripe show panels mixed with the brand new applied sciences of “QLED” (quantum dot layer) and Mini-LED for backlighting.

Using Mini-LED presents a “native dimming” ratio of 20000:1, while the shows boast a 100% NTSC shade gamut for vivid colours with the enhancement of the Quantum Dots. Boasting a lot deeper blacks while providing as much as 200 nits of brightness, which is sort of double the brightness of earlier LCD headsets just like the Index and Quest 2.

Movement-to-Photon latency is touted at 15ms while the refresh price is both 90hz or 120hz. Lastly, HDR content material is supported utilizing a particular algorithm because the show panels are rated as 8-bit while true HDR requires 10-bit {hardware}.

Lenses

My Crystal got here with a single set of 35 PPD aspheric glass lenses, described by Pimax as:

“Custom-made replaceable aspheric lens, with 35 PPD peak constancy”

What’s an aspheric lens? “An aspherical lens is a lens that isn’t spherical to fight spherical aberrations. This will increase sharpness, particularly at wider apertures, and reduces chromatic aberrations. Aspherical lenses are extra difficult to fabricate, and with the elevated picture high quality comes a better worth.” reply from SLR Lounge

I used to be conscious some early models had shipped with polycarbonate (plastic) lenses which some customers reported as exhibiting distortion and chromatic aberration. Not sure which lenses my headset had shipped with, one consumer advised “placing the lens within the fridge because the glass goes chilly!” The very first thing I did was to take away the precise lens utilizing the equipped device, and weighed it on kitchen scales, to keep away from placing something within the fridge.

Pimax Crystal lenses
Pimax Crystal lenses (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

52 grams confirmed my suspicion it was a glass lens (the polycarbonate lens is simply a few grams every), this will also be decided contained in the Pimax software program which units the distortion profile in accordance with data offered by the lens itself. With the Tobii eye monitoring not but energetic, I’ve ignored that side of the lens design although it’s seen on shut inspection.

So what’s the benefit of a replaceable lens? Sure, it provides price, some additional weight, and extra complication for manufacturing, however critically permits for broken lenses to be shortly changed (accidents do occur). This could save a headset from going to {the electrical} graveyard, because it’s not troublesome to break a lens, however typically laborious to supply a substitute and difficult to efficiently match.

Consumer-replaceable lenses additionally permit for totally different lens designs for various purposes, relying on what the consumer is doing with the headset – productiveness, gaming, film experiences, and many others.  

On the time of scripting this preview, an e-mail has gone out to clients, informing them a few second set of lenses, which Pimax continues to be aiming to produce. These are described as “Optionally available Huge FOV lens that will increase FOV by 15%”.  Nevertheless, the ensuing FOV quantity has not but been decided, that is one thing I expect to find out throughout half two of this text later within the 12 months.

Headset and its lenses (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Using aspherical glass lenses is uncommon in a VR headset, including a great 100 grams of weight over polycarbonate lenses, however providing a lot larger optical readability with out glare or god rays, so effectively well worth the weight penalty and further expense of producing. 

It’s additionally a lot tougher to scratch or injury a glass lens while cleansing or throughout each day use, in comparison with plastic lenses, so ought to be rather more sturdy in the long run. And if broken, could be shortly swapped out. Good work, Pimax!

Compute

One other extra uncommon side of Pimax Crystal was the inclusion of a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor, at the side of Pimax’s personal “PC VR engine dual-processor” chipset with 8Gb of working reminiscence and 256Gb of storage reminiscence.

In addition to including appreciable price to the product, it additionally provides weight. Nevertheless, it’s essential to recollect this can be a “twin operate” machine, with a small change on the headset that enables the choice of the 2 modes:

  1. PCVR mode with 6DoF SLAM monitoring. It sends monitoring knowledge again to the host PC operating Steam VR, in addition to eye-tracking, foveated rendering, wi-fi connectivity, and different capabilities. Can run Steam VR and OpenXR purposes on the host PC.
  2. Stand-alone mode with 6DoF SLAM monitoring the place all the things is self-contained on the headset, operating Android-based VR purposes. The XR2 processor is already utilized in different merchandise like Meta Quest 2 and HTC Vive XR Elite, making porting of video games a lot easier.  

Batteries

A giant shock to many, the Crystal headset requires a battery even for PCVR mode, the XR2 processor utilizing the battery as its energy supply, regardless of the headset receiving USB energy from the host PC by way of the tether cable.

pimax crystal battery
Battery of the machine (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Pimax equipped two curved lithium-ion batteries (6000mAh – 22.8Wh, 120 grammes), and a slim charging cradle which I first mistook as a part of the rear head strap. There may be additionally a small (120mAh) onboard battery to permit “scorching swapping” throughout a play session, just like the small inside battery utilized by the Pimax Sword controllers.

The battery is locked into place on the rear of the pinnacle strap, with small sprung loaded tabs on both facet; these are very stiff when new and fairly troublesome to make use of, however repeated insertions make it a lot simpler because the plastic elements begin to put on in a bit.

Battery insertion pimax crystal
Battery insertion (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Charging every battery took about 2 hours utilizing a smartphone mains charger, and run time was usually 4 hours earlier than an on-screen “low battery” warning would seem. It was very simple to swap out the battery and switch the headset again on, confirming the small inside battery was working as meant.

Using batteries might seem to be an extra complication for PCVR customers: normally the run time is simply restricted by the battery capability of movement controllers as tethered headsets draw all their energy straight from the PC. However eight hours of playtime from two batteries ought to be a lot for most individuals doing room-scale VR and one battery can at all times be charged while the opposite is getting used and swapped out throughout refreshment or rest room breaks.

For PCVR simulator lovers utilizing HOTAS, or wheels and pedals, the session can proceed so long as they’ll keep awake! You’ll be able to take very lengthy flights in Microsoft Flight Simulator or some very lengthy driving periods when racing “24 Heures du Mans”.

Battery swap-outs could possibly be extra problematic for these lengthy periods, however as my seated “sim lite” periods in Undertaking Automobiles 2, Aircar, and Home of the Dying Solar have been at all times a lot shorter, it was by no means a problem. Later throughout my testing, I acquired a powered USB hub from Pimax, which aimed to help the battery by offering further energy by way of the USB lanes of the tether (extra on this later).

Tether

The headset field contained a skinny fiber optic tether cable, although as beforehand talked about I had additionally acquired a copper tether cable as a spare, which proved very helpful throughout testing as I had some connection points utilizing the fiber optic cable.

The large distinction between the 2 tethers was the impact on room scale motion; the fiber optic cable was mild, versatile, and nonintrusive, while the copper cable was heavier, noticeably stiffer, and felt extra restrictive when shifting about.

Headset tethers (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

The fiber optic cable has one USB plug and one DP plug on the PC facet, while the copper cable has two USB plugs to make sure energy supply, in addition to one DP plug.  The fiber optic cable can also be a bit longer at six meters, with the copper cable a extra typical size of 5 meters.

The headset facet of every tether plugs right into a small DP repeater field and extension cable on the left facet of the headset; the extension cable loops across the left harness hinge earlier than plugging straight into the headset connector above the face cushion base.

The entry to this connector is shrouded making it fairly difficult to get proper the primary time, however in case you gently work the connector by way of the opening within the casing you possibly can slide it into place earlier than snapping it shut.

Face Cushions

My Crystal was equipped with two face cushions, an ordinary cushion, and the “consolation” cushion which has a extra substantial head help.

These are secured with Velcro onto a molded plastic base, which gently clips contained in the headset casing. The plastic base appeared fairly extensive, which may permit for a lot thicker face cushions to be fitted if required.

Face cushions for the Crystal
Face cushions for the Crystal (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

The headset got here already fitted with the usual cushion, so I began utilizing the Crystal with it nonetheless fitted, however it allowed an excessive amount of motion inflicting the headset to freely transfer about.

While the consolation cushion was a greater match, it nonetheless allowed the headset to maneuver backward and forward as there was nonetheless a noticeable hole on both facet of my face. The consolation cushion additionally tended to make my head overheat, inflicting the lenses to get damp when making an attempt out energetic video games like Beat Saber. I deliberate to switch some after-market cushions later in my testing, to get the becoming dialled. 

Rear Cushion

The rear of the pinnacle strap has a detachable foam pad for help and luxury, additionally held in place with Velcro to permit simple elimination for cleansing or substitute. 

While placing the headset on for the primary time, I felt a pointy edge in opposition to my head, inflicting a pink mark and a bit discomfort. Because the harness is just not spring loaded (not like Rift CV1 and Valve Index) it requires the rear harness to be loosened, and the headset pulled over the pinnacle earlier than tightening.

After eradicating the headset, I observed a barely sharp plastic edge on the base of the battery bay, the place the cushion wasn’t fitted fairly sq., however had rotated a bit relative to the plastic molding behind it.

Rear Cushion and head strap
Rear Cushion and head strap (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

After eradicating the headset and repositioning the cushion, this downside wasn’t observed once more, although Pimax might wish to put a mild radius alongside that plastic edge to make it much less susceptible to inflicting consumer discomfort if the cushion has moved.

The form of the cushion may additionally profit from some additional growth, as I discovered the flat form of the cushion didn’t correctly help my occipital bone (again of head) however had a small vertical hole inflicting the headset to maneuver round on the rear a bit.

One thing simple to experiment with sooner or later because of the Velcro cushion becoming, making it very simple to suit an alternate cushion with a extra applicable form to go well with my occipital match.

Prime Strap

What seems like the highest strap of the headset harness is definitely a thick rubber “energy strap” connecting the rear battery module to the entrance compute unit, this makes adjusting the precise prime strap (hiding beneath) a bit troublesome. 

The precise prime strap is a stretchy, elasticated model material piece, with Velcro-faced tab changes at both finish to permit tightening or loosening as required.

The highest strap is a bit underwhelming, contemplating the majority of the headset, and the adjustment tabs are fairly quick, making the on-headset adjustment a bit fiddly because the precise prime strap itself is considerably obscured by the facility strap sat above it. 

Prime strap (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

As with becoming many top-strap headsets, you must prejudge the place the headset goes to finish up sitting in your head after it has sagged underweight, to keep up the right vertical alignment with the lenses. It’s best to do that while carrying a headset, in order that adjustment could be shortly optimized by adjusting and checking.

However with the thick energy strap considerably proscribing entry to the changes while the headset is being worn, it could be simpler to take away the headset, set the strap size, refit the headset, take a look at it, and make any additional changes as required. Except a number of individuals are sharing the headset it’s one thing you must arrange solely as soon as, so not an enormous trouble.  

Sound

My Crystal shipped with Pimax’s top-of-the-line DMAS audio system, these use a really related BMR (balanced mode radiator) 40mm driver to Valve Index, with each drivers being made by Tectonic who’s a specialist within the BMR discipline.

The DMAS audio system are easy to suit and come from the sooner 8K Actuality sequence, therefore the blue shade of the mounting puck. The speaker quantity could be managed utilizing the amount adjusters on the precise prime face of the headset, behind the facility button.

The one time I wanted to take away the speaker (proper) was to take away the DP repeater/extension cable field from the pinnacle strap, in any other case, they have been left in place and did a great job with all the advantages of off-ear audio which upon getting tried, might discover laborious to return to carrying over-ear cans.

pimax crystal audio speaker
Speaker peak and the way does it match over the ear (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

When it comes to adjustment, the audio system can rotate round a set pivot, and have a sliding mechanism to supply some peak adjustment; which means I may set the audio system at simply the precise peak for my ears. Regardless of BMR audio system being extra tolerant of misplacement than utilizing regular on-ear speaker drivers, there’s nonetheless a candy spot for BMR driver placement to get the very best sound high quality, making it essential to get your ears and audio system aligned.

When fitted appropriately, this audio system has a great sound high quality with loads of element and powerful bass copy. Licensed for DTS-Audio, the DMAS speaker system ought to present good copy of music, dialogue, and sound results for watching motion pictures, in addition to enjoying your favourite VR video games.

Controllers

The Crystal’s movement controllers appeared neat, although fairly generic. Nevertheless, these new controllers are actually essential for Pimax so they’ll present totally featured controllers with a joystick, additional enter buttons, and finger monitoring. This wasn’t doable for the Sword controllers which relied on the previous SteamVR driver for the HTC Vive controller, with its restricted enter choices and lack of help for analog joysticks.

The Crystal controllers are surprisingly small, each weighing solely 130 grams. They characteristic a small joystick, X and Y buttons, Menu and Pimax buttons, facet grip buttons, and frontal triggers. Rechargeable batteries contained in the controller with a USB-C charging socket on the base of the grips permit for the controllers to work.

The {hardware} for hand monitoring is already integrated, although wasn’t activated on the time I began testing the system, coming quickly as a part of ongoing software program updates.

pimax crystal controllers
The controllers of the machine (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

When it comes to operate, they felt enough, however when it comes to match a bit too small for my medium-sized palms discovering the facet of my thumbs catching the within of the monitoring ring when shifting the joystick left (left controller) or proper (proper controller).

This isn’t painful, however maybe uncomfortable throughout an extended session, one thing I may discover sooner or later with extra gaming time.

Weight Issues

Let’s get the elephant within the room out of the nook, into the limelight, and discuss weight. I’m not hiding from this, it’s a bodily massive, and comparatively heavy headset.  It has been reported as being practically 1.2kg, however I needed to straight learn how this may affect the general expertise.

Headset entrance. You’ll be able to see how a lot the machine is massive (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Crystal is bodily massive as a result of it shares the identical exterior casing because the forthcoming 12K, regardless of having a extra common discipline of view.  The explanation for sharing many parts (together with the exterior casing) is to make the 2 merchandise more cost effective to fabricate and develop, in any other case, it will require two product strains of distinctive elements and two software program growth tasks.

From watching a current interview with Pimax’s CEO Nordic Ren, I understood that Crystal is the primary stage of their “12K QLED platform”, adopted by 12K, after which additional techniques sooner or later.

As a dual-mode, inside-out tracked headset, Crystal additionally incorporates 4 cameras, onboard compute and reminiscence, the exterior battery (120g) with its mounting {hardware} and energy strap, a small inside hot-swap battery, tether mounting {hardware}, 100g of replaceable glass lenses with eye monitoring {hardware}, and off-ear speaker pods. You’ll be able to see the way it shortly provides up when it comes to weight.

pimax crystal size
The huge dimension of the machine (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Earlier Pimax headsets just like the 8K line, and the forthcoming 12K, are identified for his or her large lenses which give the ultra-wide discipline of view that Pimax is legendary for. Crystal lenses are a lot smaller (common dimension) than the 8K and 12K lenses, therefore the massive hole seen on both facet, as proven within the picture above.

I put the Crystal headset on my digital kitchen scales and it registered 1160g, this included the battery and tether connected (however laid flat on the counter). As compared, my Index weighed in at 791g together with a 3D printed extensive face gasket, VR Cowl for the rear head strap, and tether connected (additionally laid flat on the counter).

Crystal and Index on scales (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

The 369g weight distinction is simple to account for contemplating the Crystal’s glass lenses (+100g), exterior battery pack (+120g) and further compute. It signifies that while the Crystal has an enormous casing, that massive casing is just not significantly heavy in itself, possibly.

Placing the Crystal on my head was revealing although, with a great front-to-rear weight distribution serving to to heart the headset on my head. The rear battery (120 g)  and related mounting {hardware} have been doing a great job in balancing the headset, just like utilizing inert mass (cash, weights) strapped to the again of different headsets to take the burden off the face.

One thing to concentrate on although, with elevated mass comes a rise in inertia, making an unwelcome presence felt when shortly turning. This may cause the headset to maneuver about on the pinnacle with implications for sustaining eyeball alignment in addition to movement monitoring.

Shifting my head whereas carrying the machine (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

I tightened the headset strap so far as comfortably doable and moved my head about, confirming my suspicion about inertia: there was a bent to maneuver about independently of my head, with a slight lag because the headset accelerated. That is one thing I’d additionally skilled in my Index throughout actually quick video games, although to a far lesser diploma, a mix of the higher match and lighter weight.

Cranking the rear strap down helped, however on the expense of additional strain on the face, and nonetheless not addressing the underlying difficulty I most likely wanted a barely narrower face cushion to assist safe the headset in place and reduce any motion which was being exaggerated by the heavier weight.

Some Pimax Crystal customers on-line have reported utilizing after-market face cushions from totally different headsets to unravel becoming points, or utilizing weatherstrip foam underneath the edges of the cushion, so that is one thing to discover afterward.

Because of the weight of Crystal, the headset might also profit from a thicker, wider head strap to supply extra help and cease it from sagging a lot. I’ve already seen posts on Reddit with customers modifying the Crystal with after-market straps and strap consolation mods to enhance match and stability.

Set up

Pimax has a brand new software program consumer: it was simple to obtain, set up, and begin operating on my Home windows 10 PC. As soon as put in, the headset is related, or so I assumed. To not cover something, however initially, there have been some points making an attempt to attach my Crystal to the PC utilizing the fiber optic cable equipped with the system.

Pimax software program (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

After reaching out to Pimax help, they advised making an attempt the copper cable that I had acquired as a spare with the headset. This appeared to enhance issues, although the connection was nonetheless hit or miss, generally taking quite a few restarts to get the headset acknowledged simply as soon as. 

I then tried reinstalling the Pimax consumer, updating all drivers, reinstalling my Steam set up, and even reinstalling my Home windows 10 working system to get issues working by making certain all PC software program was on the newest model. Regardless of all this, a dependable connection continued to be elusive; I attempted utilizing my Valve Index on the identical PC and had no points making the connection, throughout lengthy PCVR periods or hooking up a number of Vive trackers for FBT.

After additional contact with help, the suggestion was to bypass the DP repeater/extension cable loop on the facet of the headset by plugging the tether straight into the headset. This concerned unclipping the face cushion and plastic base, eradicating the left DMAS speaker, and thoroughly extracting a number of tiny metallic screws.

Extension cable and Tether crease (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

With the DP repeater field eliminated, and the copper cable plugged straight into the headset, it related the primary time, and we have been off!

Nevertheless, one concern, as it’s one thing that plagued the Index from launch, is the repeated bending of the tether the place it exits the headset connector. I’m assuming that is why Pimax had the extension loop cable initially fitted, which just like the Vive Professional, prevents bending injury to the tether.

With this extension now eliminated, it was apparent that repeated opening and shutting of the headset while placing on and taking off, was beginning to crease the tether. For now, I’d control this space, because it required the substitute of my Index headset solely two weeks after launch when repeated bending and creasing began inflicting glowing video within the headset. 

After connecting the headset, I began Steam VR and entered a wierd model of Steam Residence; I appeared to be underneath the ground, because the headset was having hassle discovering the ground stage.

I restarted the headset and now I appeared on the roof above the Steam dwelling, wanting down by way of a window on the recreation choice menu far beneath. I ran the room setup device in Pimax Shopper once more, however then discovered myself excessive above the Steam Residence home, wanting far off into the mountains which demonstrated the excessive PPD very clearly.

Ground peak bugs: generally I used to be underneath the ground, different instances I used to be flying within the sky… (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Utilizing FPSVR, I shortly made a handbook adjustment to flooring peak, which compelled the headset to make use of my decided floor stage as a reference. With the headset now connecting and floor stage established, I needed to examine the sphere of view that was seen in my headset.

FOV examine

Headsets have a most rendered discipline of view, however typically significantly present much less, accounting for variations in human physiology. How effectively does your face match into the equipped cushion? Does the harness help your head form appropriately? Does your imaginative and prescient work effectively with the lens design? Is there any eye reduction adjustment? Can the headset angle be tilted? What impact do totally different IPD settings have on the sphere of view?

The utmost rendered discipline of view could be obtained utilizing instruments that ask the headset driver for the knowledge, however after having obtained that data, I used to be taken with what I may see for myself.

I used developer Boll’s wonderful “Wimfov” device (https://boll.itch.io/wimfov) which permits the consumer to find out what could be seen in every eye by adjusting 16 mild ray sliders, offering an correct outcome distinctive to every consumer and their headset becoming. It will present accuracy to inside a level giving a helpful and related outcome. 

Utilizing the consolation face cushion and tightening the Crystal as agency as doable to cease any undesirable motion, I ran the device (carrying the headset while utilizing a keyboard) and acquired the outcomes as seen beneath within the picture exhibiting the output into an online browser on the finish of the take a look at session.

Crystal and Index FOVs (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Stereo overlap was a helpful 74%, while the “form” of the FOV was an enormous sq. with rounded corners, making it really feel extra beneficiant than the numbers. The optical readability of the glass lenses additionally appeared to make the FOV appear extra “open” than many Fresnel lens-based headsets. 

The comparability was then made with my Valve Index (fitted with 3D Printed extensive face cushion), utilizing the identical device offered the outcomes seen within the picture above, a contact extra stereo overlap. Index’s FOV appeared totally different to Crystal with a rounded form, and fewer readability throughout its dual-compound plastic lens, although I at all times thought of Index’s geometric stability class main.

Stereo overlap was related between the 2 headsets; each present a convincing stereo picture so essential for VR. Going again to Index was fascinating, with noticeable glare in brighter scenes making the lens readability appear barely obscured or greasy, just like the lenses needing cleansing. I additionally began to note a slight display screen door impact on Index which I hadn’t actually seen it a lot earlier than, though this quickly disappeared when busy in a great recreation (thrilling stuff)!

First Expertise

Glad with my FOV examine, I began certainly one of my favourite purposes, “Aircar”, which is constructed on Unreal Engine and at all times seems nice at larger resolutions. As I’d had some points getting Crystal’s movement controllers to attach, and keep related (these have been the early days) I made a decision to make use of my Xbox wi-fi controller, which handily is my favourite controller for this recreation.

Aircar has centering controls built-in, so it was very simple to get myself in simply the precise place to go well with the in-game cockpit. Beginning within the storage as at all times, I flew ahead and got here to a pause while hovering exterior the storage, to enter a menu to regulate the visuals in-game.

I set all the things to most while sustaining an in-game render decision of 1.0, with SteamVR reporting a headset decision of 100% as 4312 x 5100 per eye. Skarredghost later informed me this was form of 4K per eye, take that Apple 😉

At this level, my PCVR rig with its 3080Ti spun its cooling followers as much as a most, beginning to wrestle with the ridiculous rendering workload. My PC sits on a wheeled trolley within the hall exterior my VR room with the tether cleanly passing underneath the door, regardless of the door being firmly shut it seemed like a jet engine was operating on the opposite facet. 

Aircar session (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

I used to be getting 45-50 fps however the visuals have been stunning, completely gorgeous with large ranges of element and a brilliant clear image right down to the road stage. Regardless of having good VR legs,  I diminished the headset decision to 70%, which offered a extra comfy 90 fps, while nonetheless wanting very sharp and extremely detailed. Rapid thought, simply wow!  

Throughout a few seated periods in Aircar and Undertaking Automobiles 2, I began to note headset instability, which didn’t appear to be brought on by the optical monitoring, maybe a defective IMU, inflicting my Aircar to generally pitch ahead, begin rolling even when recreation paused, it was fairly random.

This continued to be a problem in a number of video games in addition to in Steam Residence. After some dialogue with Pimax they agreed to exchange my headset. Making an allowance for this was a pre-production pattern, and not using a technician inspecting the headset it was troublesome to inform what had occurred, although the massive field had taken a reasonably laborious blow throughout transport, maybe damaging one thing inside…

I provided to ship the primary headset again, however they suggested me {that a} substitute was on the best way, and to retain the primary headset till issues have been resolved. Prime marks to Pimax for its wonderful customer support!

Second headset

The second headset arrived after only a week and got here in a otherwise formed field, issues have been additionally laid out otherwise with a thick foam rubber spacer wrapped across the entrance of the headset strap, to stop transport injury to the plastic clip that the highest strap mounts onto.

The second headset and USB hub (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

As soon as once more, the headset field contained a skinny fiber optic tether cable, however this time the consolation face cushion was already fitted, the thinner cushion spare within the field. Essentially the most fascinating factor I discovered bundled with the brand new headset was a USB hub designed to supply help to the battery by way of the USB lanes of the tether.

Second Expertise

Now that I had the second headset with its USB hub, it was time to restart my testing. For a short time, I used to be the proud proprietor of two Crystal headsets, so in fact I needed to take {a photograph} for posterity. 

Two Pimax Crystal headsets (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Out of the field, I had related connection issues to the primary headset, while utilizing the equipped fiber optic cable. Pimax had suggested me to retain the copper tether cable (which had come spare with the primary headset), so this was the primary merchandise to be swapped out.

After making an attempt to get a secure connection (it took a number of restarts to lastly join) I then eliminated the DP repeater and cable extension loop from the left facet. This was a lot simpler having completed this earlier than, and it shortly got here free, letting me plug the tether straight into the headset connection.

With the DP repeater and extension cable now eliminated, I lastly loved a hassle-free connection every time.  In a while, I attempted becoming the USB hub, however began experiencing intermittent connection issues: the hub appeared to be inflicting an unstable connection on the USB facet.

The hub was swiftly eliminated, and the connection was as soon as once more secure. Nevertheless, this was at a price of no battery help by way of USB, and the slight discount in mobility and attain from utilizing the thicker and shorter copper tether cable fairly than the fiber optic model. Different Pimax Crystal customers on Reddit talked about their success utilizing after-market powered USB hubs, which is one thing I may buy at a later date.

Throughout this time, there had been a number of firmware updates for each the headset and controllers. Lastly, the controllers began to attach each time and there have been normal enhancements in controller monitoring, although nonetheless a bit glitchy and fewer exact than is important for quick gaming.

Updates… (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

With the headset now connecting every session, I may lastly spend my time adjusting the match to get the optical alignment excellent. It quickly turned apparent that the lenses have a candy spot (optimum alignment relative to eyeballs) that is simple to set within the improper place as a result of excessive readability of the lens. With older Fresnel lens-based headsets it’s fairly simple to inform when the lenses are misaligned as you might be rewarded with an eyeful of glare or god rays.

General the headset setup took some observe as it is rather eye place dependant; that is distinctive to every particular person’s craniofacial match making it troublesome for headset producers to accommodate everybody inside their design. Missing the spring-loaded headset harness of the Index, Crystal needed to be loosened on elimination, and tightened for every becoming, introducing the potential of slight misalignment which is extra noticeable in high-resolution headsets.

Getting the very best match doable utilizing the comfy face cushion, and searching round contained in the lens, I skilled distortion across the outer perimeter of the lens; throughout some totally different video games, I began feeling the pupil swim.

I additionally noticed chromatic aberration in some totally different conditions: the Steam VR menus confirmed slight shade fringing across the edges, while Wevr’s “The Blue” had an intense blue ring across the exterior of the lenses. The quantity of distortion appears to differ barely relying on the sport engine, Undertaking Automobiles 2 (Insanity), Valve’s The Lab (Supply 2 and Unity), and Aircar (Unreal) all current issues otherwise.

I attempted adjusting the IPD to see if this could assist, however the distortion appeared equally spaced across the perimeter of every lens, maybe indicating my eyeballs had the right X, and Y alignment relative to every lens centre.

Fringing (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Eradicating the face cushion fully and pushing the headset in opposition to my face was revealing as there was a noticeable discount in distortion, my first thought was that my eyes wanted to be nearer to the lenses to get the very best match. With out mechanical eye reduction adjustment (Z axis) the one answer was to change the face cushion, though skinny face cushions are usually not comfy to make use of with heavier or firmly clamped VR headsets throughout longer periods.

A right away and really sensible answer was to keep away from wanting throughout the lens, by wanting predominantly ahead or going old style utilizing my head to go searching a scene. After a number of periods this shortly turned second nature, minimizing any seen distortion, which stored my eyes rather more comfy as swimming is finest stored for water.  

By the tip of this preview, I used to be already experimenting with after-market face cushions, which confirmed a profit in reducing-edge distortion and chromatic aberrations; one thing to additional discover within the second a part of this text.

PCVR Preview conclusion

Throughout my testing, by the point the second headset had arrived, a number of software program updates had been rolled out which made real enhancements to connection and monitoring. Updates to the controllers let me begin enjoying room-scale video games, although the headset itself nonetheless struggled to set flooring stage, additionally reported by different customers.

Pimax advised utilizing OVR Superior Settings (free on Steam) as an interim measure to set flooring peak, which definitely labored for every session, I additionally discovered the middle marker to be very helpful for room orientation.

The Readability

One thing that turned undeniably apparent throughout early testing, and all through my testing, was that their claims about readability and determination weren’t unfounded – this was a significantly spectacular visible expertise! I received’t point out the display screen door impact as I by no means noticed any…

The wealth of element whether or not up shut, or wanting far into the gap, was breathtaking.

Aircar demonstrated Crystal’s sheer readability and resolving energy, I’d by no means seen the town in such wealthy element, particularly from peak. Having the ability to look from peak and see particular person autos shifting at avenue stage, colours popped with vibrancy, blacks have been close to black and never the greyish soup typical of LCD; metallic objects had extremely reflective sheens, and distinction and brightness have been very spectacular. 

pimax crystal through the lens
By means of the lens photographs (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Driving in Undertaking Automobiles 2, I used to be surprised by the standard and vibrancy of the world exterior the cockpit, it was an unimaginable spectacle, exhibiting wealthy particulars I had by no means seen earlier than, regardless of hours of racing open seater automobiles in my Valve Index.

My smartphone digital camera had hassle focusing, so I used video mode and extracted single frames, and a few are seen within the picture seen above.

Valve’s The Lab appeared tremendous sensible, it was already a deal with in Index with supersampling and excessive body charges, however the significantly larger decision of Crystal mixed with the colourful colours and deep blacks make it really feel like a recent expertise another time. Valve’s software program optimization chops present by way of with a clean comfy 90Hz even on the larger decision.

pimax crystal through the lenses
Different through-the-lens photos (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

I nonetheless skilled some controller monitoring points, although typing utilizing the SteamVR keyboard was doable, and deciding on the amount management or different menu capabilities was a lot improved in comparison with the controllers used with my first headset.

The audio was of excellent high quality from the off-ear audio system, offering a thumping soundtrack to many video games, the microphone had a great high quality of speech with no clipping. As with the Valve Index, some adjustment of depth (speaker-to-ear distance) for the off-ear audio system could be helpful for folks with noticeable asymmetry.

Headset monitoring appeared competent as soon as arrange, just like Home windows WMR or Rift S headsets which is a praise to these within the know. As with different inside-out monitoring techniques, it advantages from having some furnishings, objects, or paintings on the partitions of your room, to offer the SLAM monitoring one thing to lock onto.

Controller actions like utilizing the bow in “In Dying”, two-handed weapons in “Pavlov” or taking the controller out of digital camera vary expose the Achilles heel of inside-out monitoring. It’s nothing particular to Pimax’s iteration because it’s one thing I’ve skilled utilizing different inside-out tracked techniques together with WMR, Meta Rift S, and Quest. 

I nonetheless use the lighthouse monitoring after seven years of PCVR, with three 2.0 base stations offering room-scale protection with extremely correct controller monitoring and no compromise of gaming model.

Video games like In Dying massively profit from having the ability to freely use the bow in all instructions; while having the ability to lie inclined on the ground in Pavlov while working a heavy machine gun is at all times very pleasant.

Lighthouse Faceplate + Pimax and Sword controllers
Lighthouse Faceplate + Pimax and Sword controllers (Picture by Pimax)

Pimax has provided to ship me a Lighthouse faceplate as quickly because it’s accessible, which might marry the very best of each worlds, a Crystal clear 35 PPD headset with precision lighthouse monitoring; I stay up for seeing this product.

With new software program updates bringing additional enhancements, Crystal will solely get higher with time: one essential replace would be the Pimax stand-alone mode which I stay up for exploring later this 12 months. Very fascinating to see how that every one works, and which titles will likely be accessible on the Pimax retailer.

One other massive change will likely be the introduction of eye monitoring; utilizing the Tobii eye monitoring system which operates at 120hz, a threshold for correct eye monitoring on PCVR. As soon as applied it ought to be doable to arrange the IPD mechanically and run dynamic foveated rendering which has substantial efficiency positive factors for demanding simulation titles (or customers with out top-end GPUs) in addition to eradicating distortions and chromatic aberration to enhance optical consolation.

Keep in mind the pupil can transfer as much as 3mm throughout full vary of imaginative and prescient, which has apparent implications for VR headset optical setup, high-resolution headsets just like the Pimax Crystal will present fast and noticeable advantages from eye monitoring know-how. Welcome to the long run!

Crystal on cushion
Crystal and controllers mendacity on cushion (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Many because of Daisy and the crew at Pimax for making this preview doable! Thanks to the Skarredghost for internet hosting my article, because of Sara Ramos for taking photos, and because of you the reader for taking the time to learn by way of this introduction to Pimax Crystal.

Rob Cole

(Header picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)


Disclaimer: this weblog incorporates commercial and affiliate hyperlinks to maintain itself. In case you click on on an affiliate hyperlink, I will be very joyful as a result of I am going to earn a small fee in your buy. You could find my boring full disclosure right here.



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