Home Virtual Reality Games Tremendous-Detailed Evaluate Of Pimax Sword Controllers!

Tremendous-Detailed Evaluate Of Pimax Sword Controllers!


Rob Cole is again. The writer of the much-appreciated XR Caliper controllers and of many tips to enhance the ergonomics of the Valve Index has simply examined for me the Pimax Sword controllers, writing probably the most detailed evaluate about them you’ll ever discover on the net. Greater than an article, with its 10,000+ phrases, it is a brief guide on the Pimax Sword, that includes every thing chances are you’ll must find out about them (what’s Pimax, what are the Sword controllers, how do they work… even an interview with the COO of the corporate!). Take a sit, and skim this super-interesting article written by Rob (who I thank so much for this present he’s making to all of us).

Pimax Sword Controllers – evaluate by Rob Cole for Skarredghost

pimax sword review
(Picture supplied by Rob Cole)


On the 11th of Could, I obtained an electronic mail from Pimax about their new “Sword” digital actuality movement controllers, which had lastly turn out to be accessible to buy, following a reveal means again in January 2019 at CES.

The World had since gone by the preliminary shock of the Covid Pandemic while coping with the aftershocks; many producers have been nonetheless struggling element shortages and rising prices, delivery delays, manufacturing facility shutdowns brought on by covid lockdowns, and energy shortages.

Getting electronics constructed at quantity on time and at acceptable price was proving tough, and numerous growth initiatives had sunk with out hint or have been seemingly caught in perpetual Kickstarter mode. The Sword controllers have been one thing I’d actually heard of however had considerably forgotten about, till now. Kevin from Pimax explains the place the identify got here from:

In the course of the growth of the brand new controllers we joked the most well-liked prototype resembled a swashbuckling sword and the identify caught.

pimax sword controllers
(Picture by Pimax, supplied by Rob Cole)

The e-mail from Pimax about their Sword controllers was welcome, particularly as a result of I’d not too long ago been questioning if we’d ever see a brand new SteamVR movement controller.

A lot as I’d loved many experiences and video games with the Vive and Index controllers, each had their very own points. Maybe a brand new SteamVR controller would lastly be “good”. 

Vividly offered photos confirmed their putting new design with enormous monitoring rings and material hand straps, completed with a particular blue coating marketed as being proof against environmental contaminants.

Instantly noticeable was that it had giant trackpads, however no joysticks. (?!) With many video games now catering for the favored free locomotion motion fashion, the dearth of joysticks appeared an odd selection for a brand new controller in 2022.

There additionally gave the impression to be a button lacking, in comparison with the ‘Contact-like’ 3 button face enter (A/B/Menu) utilized by many controllers to make sure parity with Meta’s now dominant management format.

    “Variations on a theme…with enter parity: 3 face buttons, joystick, facet grip, set off.

Equally to Contact although, Sword featured facet mounted grip buttons and enormous triggers up entrance.

vr controllers
Contact-like controllers (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Regardless of some misgivings concerning the lack of joysticks and going towards the present 3-button format, the discharge of Sword is genuinely excellent news for the SteamVR ecosystem and this shouldn’t be understated! 

Customers lastly have a 3rd selection of SteamVR movement controllers, because it’s been 6 years because the launch of Vive “Wand” controllers and over 3 years because the launch of the Index “Knuckles” controllers.

As somebody who has spent plenty of time utilizing completely different PCVR controllers like Wands, Index, Home windows MR, and completely different variations of Oculus Contact, I questioned: how would these Sword controllers examine?


May this new controller from Pimax present a extra reasonably priced various to the strong however considerably restricted Vive controller?

(Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

That is the present SteamVR controller pricing in GBP (delivery to UK) on the time the article was written:

  •  HTC Vive controller (2018) single £193 consists of free delivery and tax
  • HTC Vive controller (2018) pair £386.00 consists of free delivery and tax
  • Pimax Sword controller pair £313 consists of paid delivery and tax
  • Valve Index controller pair £259 consists of free delivery and tax
  • Valve Index controller single £139 consists of free delivery and tax

May these present a extra strong various to the reasonably priced, however comparatively fragile Index controllers?

Index controllers prepared for RMA (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

I went by an unlucky variety of Index controllers throughout 2 years of guarantee protection as an EU buyer, and while the RMAs have been all the time dealt with as shortly as potential, this usually meant weeks of downtime. Purchased some spare controllers, however these then required RMA, too…

Extra questions…

Why did Pimax ship their controller with Touchpads?

The place was the Joystick model I’d beforehand seen?

pimax sword and sword sense controllers
Pimax Sword and Sword Sense controllers (Picture by Pimax, supplied by Rob Cole)

Would these massive monitoring rings hit my arms?

Would the hand straps be snug?

What would the monitoring be like?

How would they work with present VR software program?

Straight after receiving the e-mail I reached out to Pimax expressing my curiosity in testing their new Sword controllers, and supplied references to a few of my earlier articles for Skarredghost. 

Pimax shortly replied, and after establishing that I had a SteamVR headset (Valve Index) and lighthouse base stations (2.0) they supplied the mortgage of a pair of their Sword controllers for me to evaluate. As these have been delivery instantly from Shanghai, I made positive to double-check my UK supply particulars,  after which Pimax supplied an electronic mail with all of the monitoring data.

Due to ongoing Covid lockdowns in China, Pimax have been uncertain if the controllers would ship with batteries (held at one other warehouse location), so suggested me to buy them on Amazon and supplied a hyperlink. A pair of “Sony kind NP-BX1” suitable Li-Ion batteries and a USB charging cradle price lower than £20. 

The controllers did find yourself arriving with batteries included, however I simply left these within the packaging and used the batteries I’d already purchased and charged in anticipation of the controllers arriving. 

Batteries and charger(Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Due to David at Pimax for shortly arranging the check controllers, answering my questions and being tremendous useful.  Additionally, because of the Skarredghost for providing to host my article on his influential weblog [You’re welcome, Rob, always happy to host your amazing articles!].

Very quickly, a mysterious package deal arrived at my work premises, however earlier than opening the field, I needed to know slightly extra concerning the sender.

(Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Who’s Pimax?

Pimax Know-how (Shanghai) Co., Ltd was based by Robin Weng and associates in Shanghai, China in 2015. From the China.cn on-line commerce portal (the data seems slightly dated):

Enterprise Data

  • Firm Identify: Pimax Know-how (Shanghai) Co., Ltd
  • Enterprise Sort: Distributor/Wholesaler
  • We Present: VR Know-how, VR digital actuality, VR Headset, VR glasses
  • Yr Established: 2015

Commerce & Market

  • Essential Markets Home Market , North America

Manufacturing facility Data*

  • Manufacturing facility Location: No. 3000 Longdong Avenue, Pudongxin District, Metropolis space, Shanghai, China Shanghai
  • Variety of Employees: 51 – 100 Individuals

*This appears to have modified because the manufacturing deal with on the controller field was the “New Technology Data Know-how Park in Rizhao, Shandong”.

From studying among the commerce data for Shandong, there are a number of parks of high-technology corporations endeavor analysis and growth, and high-tech manufacturing. These know-how parks have been partly funded as a part of a Authorities-backed initative to extend growth and manufacturing of XR gear in key areas throughout China. 

Pimax has talked about up to now utilizing industry-leading distributors with the flexibility to scale, but it surely’s unclear whether or not Pimax operates its personal facility or makes use of a companion vendor. However the Sword controllers appear to be coming from one in all these high-tech factories in Rizhao.

Pimax 4K headset (Picture by WhatVR supplied by Rob Cole)

Pimax shortly established a reputation for its VR headsets which pushed the boundaries of show know-how with excessive resolutions and excessive body charges mixed with the widest subject of view accessible in available shopper headsets.

Following the profitable growth of 2K and 4K prototypes, the product launches of 4K and 5K headsets, by November of 2016 Pimax had constructed its formidable 8K prototype. This fast iteration is one thing that Pimax is understood for, not unusual in on-shore tech enterprise tradition with entry to specialist manufacturing services, skilled engineers, and samples of the very newest parts. Issues transfer in a short time, competitors is all the time pressuring, there is no such thing as a time to hold about…

September 2017 noticed the launch of its 8K Kickstarter marketing campaign with quite a few bonus tiers together with three headset fashions, lighthouse base stations, knuckle fashion controllers with trackpads or joysticks, completely different head straps with audio choices, cooling followers, wi-fi transmitter, eye-tracking module, and hand monitoring module to call among the bewildering choices.

pimax kickstarter
Pimax 8K Kickstarter marketing campaign (Picture by Pimax on Kickstarter, supplied by Rob Cole)

Following an especially profitable marketing campaign, the undertaking reached $4,236,618 from 5,946 backers (the preliminary funding objective was $200,000) however as with many Kickstarter initiatives, there have been some delays and different points.

Some backers complained about lengthy delays, issues getting monitoring numbers, headsets delivery with out base stations (throughout manufacturing drought), lengthy waits for controllers, and reviews of headset casings cracking, amongst the standard QA issues with early manufacturing. There have been additionally reviews of sluggish guarantee help, some miscommunication issues, software program glitches, compatibility points with sure graphics card, and many others.

Customer support and QA points aren’t unusual when a smaller firm out of the blue finds itself going through an enormous problem, backed by the cash of many various clients from all around the World.

Its unclear in the end how lots of the backer targets have been ever absolutely delivered, however from studying on-line suggestions following the Kickstarter, typically the purchasers appeared pleased with their headsets and different equipment. 

Cracked casing of a Pimax headset (Picture by OpenMR, supplied by Rob Cole)

It takes plenty of onerous work to construct an excellent fame, and Pimax appears to be making strides ahead however there’ll stay an excellent quantity of people that stay unconvinced both from direct expertise or having learn an excessive amount of unfavorable press across the Kickstarter.

For varied causes, Pimax had by no means had a lot beneficial protection from the mainstream VR press. Some testers had tried earlier fashions, experiencing distortion or illness, placing them off making an attempt once more regardless of massive enhancements being made in later fashions.

Pimax 8K PRE (Picture by Street To VR, supplied by Rob Cole)

To be truthful to Pimax, rising pains are typical when scaling up any firm. Add to it the Kickstarter marketing campaign; combine with a gaggle of enthusiastic testers and a really vocal group eager to go ultra-wide as quickly as potential… it’s not shocking that Pimax boards have been usually noisy and the mods busy.

Additionally, there actually isn’t anybody else pushing the ultra-wide PCVR know-how so onerous, while making it accessible for shopper buy, in contrast to earlier ultra-wide enterprise-only gear that few ever bought to strive.

And let’s give them some credit score, Pimax 8K was an formidable undertaking that they did find yourself just about pulling off; delivering 8K headsets to many backers, fibre optic cables, audio head straps, face cushions, and many others. adopted by Valve equipped base stations, some Valve Index controllers and now their very own Sword controllers.

Pimax has persevered with enhancing their manufacturing, with their newest equipment really trying fairly good by way of options, supplies and ending.

New “Imaginative and prescient Sequence” blue headset casings are proving strong, normal high quality management enhancements have been made, along with ongoing software program updates, new face cushions, head straps, and audio options. Pimax has been tremendous busy while different PCVR distributors have considerably stagnated: Valve by no means launched a wi-fi adapter for the Index, and HTC shoe-horned the Focus 3’s lenses and shows into the outdated Vive Professional physique with combined outcomes.

Pimax Imaginative and prescient 8K X (Picture by Pimax, supplied by Rob Cole)

Newer Imaginative and prescient 8K headset fashions have already arrived with their newest extra-aural audio resolution, while the following era of “Crystal” and “12K” at the moment are being closely promoted, with thrilling promotional supplies displaying some nice future potential. As soon as once more, the group is getting excited, and other people might be trying to trade-in their present headsets with a particular voucher supply that Pimax has made accessible.

Nevertheless, this fixed cycle of growth generally is a double edge sword (pun supposed) making it extra complicated for customers to know key product variations, while earlier points are maybe by no means absolutely resolved, as progress retains pushing ahead at a relentless tempo.

It’s additionally a distinct kind of enterprise tradition that may alienate some Western clients, however with Pimax concentrating on the tremendous high-end VR fanatics, this tempo of change and gross sales strategy was much less of a priority, and extra one thing the group appears to truly welcome.

However for a lot of VR customers, even the very long time PCVR avid gamers, it’s nonetheless a model on the extra excessive finish, and one which many appear reluctant to even strive; is it a concern of the unknown maybe mixed with the earlier on-line drama that performed out across the Kickstarter? Google searches are very revealing..

Nevertheless, their latest partnership with Amazon ought to take away any considerations associated to efficiency, becoming, or high quality with a free return coverage permitting you to purchase and take a look at with out the danger of getting caught with {hardware} that doesn’t be just right for you. As with every wearable gear, you gained’t know till you strive, and your likelihood of getting an excellent match will range.

Pimax headset listed on Amazon (Picture by Amazon, supplied by Rob Cole)

Amazon supplied a problem free return for my Vive Professional 2 headset again after I simply couldn’t get it to suit correctly with out making what would have been warranty-busting modifications. Having used this mechanism to purchase with confidence, I’d be more than pleased to make use of Amazon to purchase any Pimax gear.

So regardless of what I’d learn and heard over the previous couple of years, my interplay with Pimax has been very constructive, discovering them way more responsive than the larger VR gamers.  From studying a few of their backstory it appears that evidently they’ve introduced new employees on board, closely invested in customer support opened warehouses on every continent, and have a brand new manufacturing facility.

They even have buyer help telephone numbers, which may be very uncommon in as of late of chatbots and emails, an important transfer to spice up buyer confidence. The hyperlink up with Amazon can also be nice for confidence when making what’s an costly product buy with no likelihood to demo at a retailer. Amazon additionally appears to be dealing with Pimax returns as I discovered later within the check.  

Pimax are trying set to turn out to be a severe VR participant, their fame can solely additional enhance with new administration and new merchandise. In the course of the writing of this text, Pimax has even relaunched its web site www.pimax.com which is an enormous enchancment with regard to the earlier model, and encompasses a a lot cleaner design with much less “vibrant” pop-up particular provides and offers.

If the web site is any indication of their new course, good issues are taking place at Pimax.  I used to be lucky sufficient to ask some questions of their COO Kevin Henderson, with our interview featured on the finish of this text. 

Welcome to Sword

pimax sword controllers box
Pimax Sword controllers within the field (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

What’s within the field? A pair of Sword controllers, a pair of Li-ion batteries in plastic circumstances, and a pair of USB leads in order that the batteries may be charged while inserted within the controllers, or the controllers given firmware updates by plugging into the PC.

The field itself was very sturdy with a thick foam core containing cut-outs that did their greatest to stop the controllers from being eliminated. This field also needs to survive any transit impacts, ensuring your Sword controllers arrive in the perfect situation. 

(Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

The brand new design was actually completely different, a primary look a mutant offspring of the brand new PSVR2 controller and an Oculus Contact. Nevertheless, as I used to be quickly to find, this was an unfair assumption as Pimax had labored by a substantial variety of iterations to succeed in their manufacturing design. Proven under are prototype controllers from the 8K kickstarter compaign, which appear like a joystick modified Vive wand.

pimax sword
First design of Pimax Sword controllers (Picture by Pimax, supplied by Rob Cole)

Sword is actually an up to date Vive “Wand” controller with some key enhancements together with the hand strap and facet grip buttons, though the variety of inputs and enter varieties is restricted by the Vive Wand driver that it’s utilizing in SteamVR.

The Vive controller was by no means designed to offer analog joystick help or extra management face buttons, an issue that Pimax bumped into throughout growth, and is talked about within the interview on the finish of this text.

The picture under reveals the important thing options that Pimax have listed. I weighed every controller to double-check the accuracy of their 230g declare and located that the Left controller was 237g while the suitable was 234g, which is a standard variation seen in manufacturing.

This weight is with batteries fitted, coming in slightly heavier than my Index controllers which weigh 222g for left, and 223g for proper, together with 3D printed “palm boosters” (normal Index controller is round 195g).

Specs of Pimax Sword (Picture by Pimax, supplied by Rob Cole)


battery pimax sword
Battery encasing on Pimax Sword (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Pimax selected detachable and replaceable batteries for the Sword. These are a typical “Sony kind” referred to as BXP-01 utilized in many digital cameras. 

Lithium ion Sort X rechargeable battery

  • Approx. capability: 3.6V / 4.5Wh (1240mAh)
  • Approx. dimensions (mm): W29.9 x H9.2 x D42.7
  • Approx weight: 25g

The batteries may be charged while mounted within the controllers, or charged externally utilizing a mains charger. It took round 1 hour to cost each batteries I had purchased from Amazon within the included charging cradle, which was plugged right into a mains-powered smartphone charger I had spare at residence.

Its very straightforward to insert the batteries incorrectly (examine the contact pins): my batteries had the textual content going through outwards, for those who do insert the unsuitable means round (or again to entrance) you simply gained’t get any energy (clearly) however I’ve seen a couple of Youtubers make this error and initally assume the controllers wouldn’t work due to a fault.

Battery life was round 3 hours, with the sunshine on the Sword controllers finally turning crimson after which turning off. Battery life appeared depending on the appliance’s use of haptics, with video games like Beat Saber draining the batteries extra shortly than a soothing meditation app.  The batteries are retained contained in the physique with a small sprung clip, and the physique sealed with magnetic grip covers – these labored rather well and by no means got here unfastened in contrast to Oculus second era of Contact controlllers.

The battery elimination requires a slight re-design, as a result of there’s nothing to help the consumer in eradicating the batteries. Usually, producers embrace a small material strap that sits beneath the battery and by greedy the top can be utilized to drag the battery up for elimination.

With Sword, there’s a small sprung tab, however this wants working while the battery is being lifted. I ended up utilizing the deal with of a small kitchen spoon to softly prise the battery out while making an attempt to launch the sprung tab on the identical time. I can see this tab changing into broken over time, Pimax would profit from having a cloth strip below the battery on future fashions of Sword. 

pimax battery cover
Pimax Sword controller and its battery cowl (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Battery life was undoubtedly shorter than for Vive and Index controllers which each have non-removable batteries: that is the trade-off of utilizing a detachable widespread kind battery because the BXP battery itself is a hard and fast measurement / form, and requires a retention crade contained in the controller physique.

This cradle reduces inner quantity, while the oblong battery is extra awkward to package deal inside a controller; a customized “pouch” battery may be designed to suit a smaller or odd form inner house, giving a helpful improve in capability for longer play classes.

Pimax point out a battery “sizzling swap” function with a small fastened battery (or capacitor?) inside every controller permitting the primary battery to be eliminated with out the controller shedding energy and disconnecting from the session. Contemplating I simply used the controllers till the batteries ran flat, after which eliminated the batteries to fast cost, this wasn’t a function I examined or used.

The usage of detachable batteries is an total massive bonus as a result of it prevents the controller changing into ineffective after repeated use. It’s not unusual to see Redditors speaking about learn how to change depleted Index controller batteries, while Meta caught with removeable batteries from the primary Contact controller onwards. So while the play time per cost is shorter, total the detachable battery is an effective factor, particularly for the surroundings as prevents in any other case workable controllers from being scrapped (the E-Waste difficulty).

Lastly while in SteamVR I seen that the render mannequin of the Sword didn’t present any battery life (Index controllers present this clearly) however the knowledge is on the market as the appliance FPS VR reveals battery life for every controller. It might be price Pimax implementing this function because it’s helpful for shortly gauging energy with out having to enter FPS VR every time.

Pairing to SteamVR

Pairing the controller (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Pairing the controller may be very straightforward. Simply pair in steamVR, no want for PiTools (although that is wanted for updates). SteamVR acknowledged each the Index and Pimax controllers and was blissful to work with both just by turning off the controllers and turning on the choice set. I didn’t must pair them every time, which was very helpful when evaluating the completely different controllers towards one another in video games.

Nevertheless, SteamVR was its glitchy self infrequently: throughout my final play session, I used to be utilizing Index controllers, which appeared to have the Sword render fashions nonetheless related. After turning off the controllers and turning again on, these up to date to Index render fashions, although I may see the render mannequin for the suitable Pimax controller sitting about 10 toes to the suitable facet of my playspace. Utilizing the “unpair all” command in Lighthouse console ought to remedy this, although the controllers would wish pairing once more afterwards.

Render Mannequin

As quickly as I began SteamVR and went into the steamVR residence surroundings, the Pimax render fashions have been seen. These regarded fairly easy with out detailed textures or animations.

Pimax Sword controllers in Pavlov (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

The render fashions don’t function battery indicators (as beforehand talked about) however additionally include no animation for management inputs. After 3 years of Index controllers, this looks as if a step again, once you push a button you see a corresponding animation motion which is neat and provides to emotions of hand presence.

With the Sword controllers there is no such thing as a response, however in the end this doesn’t actually matter, and because the render mannequin is usually solely seen in steamVR residence (or when pausing an utility), it’s debatable Pimax properly spent their growth sources elsewhere.  A extra polished render mannequin with textures and animations is good, however maybe not mandatory (consider it as a “polish”). Let’s say that it does the job, however may very well be extra polished.

So what’s going on right here then? Fast overview of ergonomics

pimax sword controller
Pimax Sword controller (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

The Sword controller has a formed physique to carry comfortably within the arms, mixed with a gentle wrist strap to permit the controllers to be strapped to the arms. This appears to mix the texture of a Contact controller with the strapped-in sensation of the Index Controllers. At first, the straps felt slightly stiff, however quickly softened and have become extra snug.

To place the controllers on, you slide your arms into them and discover the hand straps. As soon as you might be gripping the controllers you possibly can simply modify the strap stress utilizing an adjuster constructed into the bottom of the controller physique and monitoring ring.

(Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

On the prime of the strap is a pivot mounted on a sprung, sliding piece that strikes backwards and forwards inside the sting of the controller physique. This pivot enable the angle of the strap to be set, it’s fairly agency so will maintain the angle you set regardless of hand motion. 

The decrease strap makes use of a pull-through clamp within the base of the monitoring ring. It’s a bit stiff to make use of however works and maintains a agency grip as soon as set, so it by no means got here unintentionally unfastened. Subsequent to the adjuster may be seen the USB port for doing firmware updates or charging the batteries while contained in the controllers.

(Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

The form of the Sword controller and the distinctive form of its hand strap with its personal adjustment vary signifies that it feels very completely different to the Index controller.

Index was the primary VR controller to ship with a dorsal retaining strap that many at the moment are turned onto, together with corporations making grips with straps for Meta controllers, and people making new controllers just like the Pimax Sword.

Because the ergonomics are very completely different, the controller acts in another way to Index when strapped onto the arms. For my medium-sized arms, it’s much less secure when ungripped: for instance, if throwing one thing like a grenade in a recreation, it is going to wobble barely while Index would keep caught to my hand.

index controller vs pimax sword
Index Controller vs Pimax Sword (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

The picture above reveals the distinction between the 2 controllers, if specializing in the distinction within the palmer (palm) and dorsal (again of hand) help of the arms. In each circumstances the palm rests towards the plastic physique (Index fitted with Palm booster right here), and the again of hand towards the material strap.

However the our bodies and straps have a really completely different form and orientation, Sword has a a lot smaller and shorter physique and this appears to be permitting my hand to maneuver barely because the decrease portion of my palm isn’t supported on the identical depth as throughout the center of the physique. Index’s help runs straight, beneath the top of the material strap, while the decrease third of Sword shortly curves away

I discovered this a part of my palm and medial border (facet of little finger) repeatedly got here into contact with the decrease tube a part of the Sword physique, letting my hand press towards the within of the monitoring ring which was really fairly snug. The dorsal strap isn’t unhealthy in any respect, it typically works in most video games and its significantly better than having no straps by way of consolation and immersion. 

I’ve discovered that with some software program functions it felt extra snug and immersive to run the straps unfastened with my hand holding the controller within the common means the place it feels much like Contact. This isn’t unusual, many gamers have their very own choice and usually maintain controllers in a barely completely different solution to what was supposed by the designer. Many Index gamers don’t like taking part in Beat Saber strapped in, however run the straps looser and have their very own hand pose.

Holding the Sword like a Contact controller (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

One thing that was noticeable was not likely having wherever to relaxation your thumb as you don’t all the time wish to be contacting the trackpad, and making an attempt to help your thumb diagonally hits the Menu button. This was shortly skilled in Beat Saber with its excessive acceleration and stress loading as gamers spin their arms round: if I left my thumb on the trackpad, it continuously clicked resulting from controller motion as I swung my arms.

A pure resolution gave the impression to be wrapping my fingers across the facet of the controller head and under the set off for fast-moving video games like Beat Saber the place there is no such thing as a in-game interplay aside from bodily transferring the controller themselves. Later throughout my weeks of testing, I discovered a difficulty that developed maybe associated to fixed hand and monitoring ring interplay… you’ll learn extra on this later within the article.

As soon as strapped into Sword, rapid discover is given to the Trackpad, as your thumb falls naturally into place throughout the center of its floor, giving a pure resting place so long as trackpad interplay isn’t required.

The trackpad

Probably the most rapid function I examined after the monitoring rings was the trackpads. These have a mildly concave face that’s roughly 37mm in diameter, and a agency click on when depressed wherever throughout the face. 

With out pulling the controllers aside I couldn’t simply inform the place this had been sourced from, although it felt much like the trackpad used within the Vive controller and Steam controller. The Sword trackpad had a nice coating (unsure if it’s the identical coating used on the physique and ring) which supplied slight friction but in addition allowed easy motion, and labored effectively with sweaty arms.

As with many trackpads, there’s a click on when depressed, which is used for added enter: while taking part in “In Dying”, urgent down on the left trackpad brings up arrow choice while the trackpad itself can be utilized for sluggish free locomotion.

General I discovered the trackpad snug, straightforward to make use of, very intuitive, and an important match for my medium-sized arms. Nevertheless, its efficiency and helpful perform have been very software program dependent.

The Trackpad difficulty

This brings up a a lot larger difficulty, going again to the argument round free locomotion versus teleport, with joystick and trackpad sitting in opposing conerns.  I’m not right here to take sides on this debate, however to notice it as a real concern for a lot of gamers.

Free motion with the trackpad in many more moderen video games wasn’t conceptl, it felt unreliable by way of pace and course, and positively bought me killed extra continuously in Compound and Pavlov in comparison with utilizing a joystick based mostly controller. Used as teleport it was no downside, however this adjustments gameplay, immersion, and many others.

Joystick vs trackpad  vr
Joystick vs trackpad (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

For older SteamVR functions (many from the sooner days of Vive PCVR), the touchpad is often the only option, as numerous these apps simply don’t work as effectively with joysticks in the case of teleportation. The brief vary of thumb motion on trackpad to activate teleport motion, in comparison with pushing the taller index stick ahead, was extra environment friendly and correct.

This was the most important take away concerning the touchpad, for teleportation it’s a lot simpler to make use of and extra correct. The small joystick on Index isn’t accurately aligned with the pure ahead attain of the hand, which may trigger teleportation (and free locomotion) to really feel misaligned with the supposed course of journey.

The Index stick can also be a bit small and mushy giving much less correct suggestions in comparison with a agency motion on the trackpad. Ought to Pimax have constructed a trackpad controller in 2022? A query I hope to reply a bit later.

Face Buttons

(Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

As talked about earlier, Pimax has shipped the Sword with a “lacking button” from the controller face, they’ve adopted the Vive controller template, so we have now simply two buttons: the “Menu” button and “Residence” button. The buttons themselves really feel good, the menu button is distinguished while the house button is recessed to stop unintentional engagement.

The buttons don’t have capacitive sensors, in contrast to the Meta and Index controllers, however this has restricted use in recreation so it’s not an enormous loss.  I discovered this fascinating data on Pimax’s weblog from September 2021:

In our efforts to optimize Capsense (particular person finger monitoring) functionality for our Sword of VR controllers we have now decided we won’t be able to realize the extent of compatibility we got down to accomplish and won’t embrace a Capsense functionality in our Sword Controllers. Different distinguished requests are so as to add a “B” button and a model with a joystick. Now we have determined to not create alternate variations of the Sword controller and can solely launch the trackpad model. We perceive a few of chances are you’ll be disenchanted with this resolution and we sincerely apologize to these of you interested by a joystick model.

The Menu button feels extra secure than the buttons on the Index which have been all the time a bit ‘wobbly’ with feeling of an excessive amount of lateral float. It’s additionally very straightforward to slip your thumb off the trackpad and onto the Menu button, decreasing effort within the recreation.

The shortage of the third button is one thing that’s seen in newer VR functions, and regardless of SteamVR’s absolutely customizable controller enter system, a lacking button remains to be a lacking button and due to this fact a missed alternative for additional inputs. Nevertheless, this was a limitation of utilizing the Vive driver in SteamVR and one thing outdoors of Pimax’s rapid management.

Set off

The triggers are giant moulded items with a curved form designed to assist the consumer find and retain the set off towards the set off finger. The motion of the triggers is probably slightly too deep earlier than activation, because it’s a easy swap in contrast to the dual-stage motion of the Index triggers. While the set off typically works as supposed, there have been 3 points I discovered that hindered gameplay:

Index set off (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)
  • Free float. there appears to be extra journey earlier than activation. While this permits the consumer to drift the set off with out activation, it additionally makes for a slower pull motion, and might make the “set off level” much less dependable by way of hitting the identical depth every time. I’d wish to see this float diminished, or the inclusion of a journey adjuster to permit the consumer to setup the set off to go well with their arms and most well-liked fashion of play.
  • Sensitivity. This may very well be associated to extra journey, however I discovered the set off overly delicate in some functions, taking pictures off a number of rounds with a single pull. This brought about issues in shooters the place ammo and accuracy is king. For functions the place the set off is used to activate a function or set off exercise, this wasn’t a difficulty. A later set of controllers exhibited much less of this behaviour, suggesting the software program is being improved.
  • Form. Relying on the sport, frequency of set off use, size of your set off finger and pose the controller is held in, I seen a barely sharp edge throughout the vertical face of the set off, particularly towards both sides and the decrease edge. While this wasn’t uncomfortable by way of inflicting ache, it was noticeable in video games like House Pirate Coach and the Gunman Chronicles mod for Half Life Alyx the place I used to be doing a number of taking pictures. The continued sensation was of my finger resting towards a slight edge, fairly than the graceful face of a typical set off blade.

Grip Button

sword controller grip
Grip button (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

One of many massive issues with the outdated Vive controller was the facet grip buttons, which have been actually tough to undoubtedly use, however all too straightforward to unintentionally use. I had some leg buckling, and stomach-wrenching drops taking part in “Blue Shift” in 2016 on the Vive the place an unintentional press of the grip would trigger your pilot’s wings to retract, usually resulting in a crash into the ground.

Pimax has moved away from this, and adopted an identical fashion of facet grip button to Meta’s standard Contact controllers, amongst others. This grip button is a straightforward on/off mechanism: for instance, in Compound the controllers will keep caught to my arms till I click on the grip button. It’s additionally not capacitive, in contrast to the Meta Contact controllers.

Utilizing Index controllers, the squeeze to grip wasn’t as dependable in Compound, and if weapons weren’t firmly gripped when transitioning ranges I’d lose them and begin the following stage weaponless! The Sword feels higher on this respect, much less immersive however extra correct inflicting much less cognitive load when the fight will get intense.

General the Sword grip buttons really feel good to make use of with their easy on/off motion and slight float earlier than activation (not as deep because the triggers). Grip buttons really feel very completely different from Index’s grip sensors, will work higher for some functions and never as effectively for others. 

Relating to grip, the controllers have finger monitoring {hardware} already in-built. This has not been activated as a result of Pimax had points getting the SteamVR driver for Vive to work correctly. Extra on this later…


From my expertise utilizing different controllers, it seems the Sword are utilizing a high-quality ERM (eccentric rotating mass) motors. It feels suitably punchy for functions Beat Saber and shooters, although not probably the most delicate by way of vary or quick response.

Having an excellent robust haptic motor is vital, some functions enable tuning of haptic power to let the participant set their consolation or suggestions stage.

Haptics drain battery energy, as is clear when taking part in Beat Saber the place the controllers are continuously firing their motors rewarding the participant with an excellent, strong expertise. That is in stark distinction to the weak haptics that have been discovered on the WMR controllers, so anemic that made Beat Saber really feel like a shadow of its regular self.

Coloured mild in entrance

The “respiratory mild” is an extended strip on the entrance fringe of the controller, and provides the three pairing states of crimson, blue, and inexperienced.

This mild will drain the battery barely faster than a single LED, and does trigger some native “mild air pollution”. For those who play in a totally darkened room, and your headset has a niche across the nostril or gasket edge, it may be slightly distracting.

However in any other case, the coloured mild seems fairly cool (it units the Pimax aside) and is beneficial when pairing at arm’s size (or with the headset on) fairly than searching for the small LED on the Index controllers. 

Respiratory mild of Pimax controllers (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Capacitive sensing

As talked about within the buttons part, there is no such thing as a “cap” sense or capacitive sensing on Sword. Which means that holding a finger near the button or set off doesn’t register as on Index and Meta controllers. It often is a pleasant contact for hand presence however doesn’t actually have an effect on gameplay or present extra capabilities. The touchpad will register a really mild contact resulting from its sensitivity, but it surely’s not cap-equipped like the opposite buttons, both.


After attending to grips with the match and the management setup, I needed a better take a look at the monitoring setup hidden in these massive rings. 

Pimax has talked about utilizing an unprecedented 52 optical sensors for every Sword.  SteamVR beforehand had a tough restrict of 32 sensors per processor, to make use of extra you must run an extra processor which simply provides one other layer of complication, price, and elevated energy funds. Pimax additionally mentions utilizing a better specification IMU with a sooner knowledge seize fee.

Monitoring ring of the controllers (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

What this all meant was very performant monitoring in any respect angles, which was very spectacular. Lowering the potential for occlusion is the large profit that the vertical peak and width of the monitoring rings present. I attempted holding a pistol in Pavlov with my proper hand and citing the left controller to regular the piston with my left hand, and I nonetheless had no points with monitoring occlusion.

There was additionally no bodily contact between the monitoring rings of each arms at any level, which was shocking contemplating the scale of the rings. Pimax stated they tried many iterations of the monitoring ring, and it reveals as a result of it really works effectively, it feels very balanced with the load of the controller physique and the monitoring ring felt across the wrist space and never onto the arms.

Throughout my weeks of testing, I had no points with monitoring, it was tremendous dependable and correct (Pimax declare 0.3mm)… the everyday SteamVR lighthouse efficiency. Was the monitoring higher than Index? Sure by way of occlusion, however in any other case no distinction in efficiency when ‘on beam’.


Taking a better look below the hood, I downloaded “the JSON” from one of many Sword controllers and inspected it nearer. For those who perceive SteamVR gadgets, this may make rapid sense, in any other case consider it as the motive force containing what kind of system it’s, a calibrated digital illustration of the bodily geometry of the system and its optical sensors, the IMU orientation, calibration, and firmware references. That is what I discovered within the file:

   "device_class" : "controller",
   "device_pid" : 8960,
   "device_serial_number" : "LHR-3AAFE550",
   "device_vid" : 10462,
   "firmware_config" : {
      "mode" : "controller",
      "radio" : true,
      "spi_flash" : true,
      "trackpad" : true,
      "set off" : true,
      "vrc" : true
   "head" : {
      "plus_x" : [ 1, 0, 0 ],
      "plus_z" : [ 0, 0, 1 ],
      "place" : [ 0, 0.014999999664723873, -0.039999999105930328 ]
   "imu" : {
      "acc_bias" : [ -0.00695100008, 0.0625400022, 0.1074 ],
      "acc_scale" : [ 0.989000022, 1.01199996, 0.995199978 ],
      "gyro_bias" : [ -0.0315000005, -0.00493799988, 0.0119500002 ],
      "plus_x" : [ 0.21935559694180662, -0.10911204939182584, 0.9695244382583178 ],
      "plus_z" : [ -0.97563917749450069, -0.02111220658916535, 0.21836305462256833 ],
      "place" : [ 0.0017470000311732292, -0.00031425998895429075, 0.049129698425531387 ]
   "lighthouse_config" : {
      "channelMap" : [ 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 ],
      "modelNormals" : [
         [ -0.0380270146, -0.700318217, -0.712817252 ],
         [ 0.0247669965, -0.783519864, 0.620872915 ],
         [ -0.470197946, -0.682181954, 0.559947968 ],
         [ -0.823689103, -0.40073207, 0.401186049 ],
         [ 0.258702964, -0.635018945, -0.727889955 ],
         [ -0.9494645, 0.259356886, 0.176779911 ],
         [ 0.183486015, -0.198414028, -0.962790132 ],
         [ -0.774320185, 0.613231122, 0.156128034 ],
         [ -0.0412880108, 0.336935103, 0.940622211 ],
         [ -0.205230892, 0.746753633, 0.632644713 ],
         [ 0.497776866, -0.663111806, 0.559017897 ],
         [ 0.811035693, 0.584931791, -0.0087095676 ],
         [ -0.155315056, -0.113550037, -0.981317341 ],
         [ 0.410959989, 0.910741985, 0.0407560989 ],
         [ -0.446696937, 0.891022861, 0.0808706954 ],
         [ 0.315415144, 0.0470154211, -0.947788477 ],
         [ 0.886287987, -0.28452, 0.365433991 ],
         [ -0.364768982, -0.40288493, -0.839420855 ],
         [ 0.960236669, 0.249453917, 0.125372961 ],
         [ -0.183747053, 0.393173158, 0.900917292 ],
         [ -0.0172920022, 0.721602082, 0.692092061 ],
         [ -0.80495429, 0.470315188, -0.361735106 ],
         [ -0.82476598, -0.53570801, -0.181047007 ],
         [ 0.350825042, 0.221277028, -0.909922123 ],
         [ 0.819256008, 0.453711003, -0.350665003 ],
         [ 0.693582177, -0.608478129, 0.385614097 ]
      "modelPoints" : [
         [ -0.00322245085, -0.0423639342, 0.110276416 ],
         [ -0.0212385692, -0.0436412469, 0.121922232 ],
         [ -0.0512818396, -0.0405346937, 0.114965484 ],
         [ -0.0770718157, -0.0266842265, 0.0934347287 ],
         [ -0.0750427023, -0.0283354167, 0.0858111829 ],
         [ -0.0918799266, 0.0155795487, 0.0543927103 ],
         [ -0.0837710872, 0.0318264626, 0.0459391288 ],
         [ -0.0727503449, 0.0511742942, 0.0497174636 ],
         [ -0.0838254765, 0.0228967052, 0.0657553971 ],
         [ -0.0589980558, -0.0263176728, 0.113080822 ],
         [ 0.0107006812, -0.0333019644, 0.121234082 ],
         [ 0.0305221658, 0.0621658713, 0.0640221015 ],
         [ 0.0237923265, 0.0585589409, 0.0588182583 ],
         [ 0.00169629336, 0.0878300071, 0.0609984286 ],
         [ -0.0308794323, 0.0856003016, 0.0576769523 ],
         [ -0.0480047278, 0.0697084963, 0.0494043864 ],
         [ 0.0450265184, -0.0139670018, 0.0896124169 ],
         [ 0.0480728894, 0.00653656898, 0.0723890886 ],
         [ 0.0495340265, 0.0231161006, 0.0745737925 ],
         [ 0.0440835729, 0.0192563497, 0.0851787925 ],
         [ 0.0298181251, -0.0146432128, 0.107967824 ],
         [ -0.0288773328, -0.00125610933, -0.0075312932 ],
         [ -0.0265464336, -0.0105262389, -0.0109835137 ],
         [ 0.0107968682, -0.00717549631, -0.0275005642 ],
         [ 0.029771477, 0.000665576779, -0.00721752411 ],
         [ 0.0224537514, -0.0124576362, 0.00857212581 ]
   "producer" : "HTC",
   "model_number" : "Pimax Left",
   "render_model" : "{aapvr}sword_handler_1_0_left",
   "resource_root" : "aapvr",
   "revision" : 2,
   "tracked_controller_role" : "left_hand"

Testing with standard software program

To place Sword by their paces I did a number of testing in standard software program I’ve been beforehand utilizing with Index controllers. I used to be to strive the trackpads in older software program and present software program which is concentrating on joystick-based customers.

SteamVR Residence in fact felt nice nonetheless being a teleportation-based surroundings, and I had way more enjoyable transferring about fluidly and precisely with the Sword’s trackpads. The Index sticks don’t all the time align along with your supposed course of teleport placement, whereas the trackpads simply labored nice as all the time.

(Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Immediately these controllers felt like an important match for Beat Saber, so I performed much more Beat Saber than I’ve in months, regardless of the two heatwaves that hit the UK through the testing interval. I by no means discovered the Index controllers nice for Beat Saber, all the time preferring the older Vive controllers with their “easy held software” form.

beat saber pimax sword
Taking part in Beat Saber with Pimax Sword controllers (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Regardless of my greatest efforts to frantically wave my arms round, Sword by no means misplaced monitoring in Beat Saber, simply felt very exact and dependable like most SteamVR gear.

Testing included hanging out and transferring round in SteamVR residence environments, utilizing VR Chat, intense gunfights in “Pavlov”, combating ever upwards by the company world of “Compound”…

House Pirate Coach (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

… a number of firing quick arrows “In Dying”, wandering by completely different ranges of “Half Life Alyx” and the superb chapter 1 of the “Gunman Chronicles” mod. Basic House Pirate Coach repeatedly featured, the room-scale nature and frantic gameplay working effectively with Sword. In “Pistol Whip”, although, that slight edge to the set off made longer classes much less snug on my set off finger.

Taking part in Gunman (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Shockingly, I most well-liked HLA with the touchpad and teleportation. I wasn’t an enormous fan of the free locomotion mode which was clearly built-in at a later stage of growth and didn’t work so nice with the Index’s underbaked joystick and sluggish locomotion tempo. The usage of teleport to clear gaps or drops pressured free locomotion customers to teleport, which left the entire thing really feel a bit combined up and fewer immersive for me.  

With Sword, I may shortly transfer by an space with correct teleportation after which deal with shut element and fight utilizing roomscale. The teleport felt way more correct with the trackpad, while Valve’s help of various controllers meant no downside assigning inputs as required.

My favourite single-player recreation “In Dying” is all the time a brutal check of monitoring accuracy, controller sturdiness, and enter choices, and the Sword dealt with themselves effectively. The arrow pushed teleport mechanism means no trackpad or stick motion is required for distance journey, although the trackpad’s free locomotion motion wasn’t as correct because the Index’s joystick on this specific recreation, making creeping about much less enjoyable because it was a bit cease and begin. Vertical arrow pictures within the second stage have been dealt with with no loss in monitoring accuracy.  Haptics felt robust and punchy, making for excellent feeling “defend bash” melée motion.

In Death VR
In Dying (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

And naturally, I performed tons and many “Beat Saber” the place I began getting larger scores while progressing by numerous Skilled+ ranges I’d not have the ability to clear with Index controllers.

The Pimax controllers felt actually good in Beat Saber, and I discovered myself actually having fun with the expertise much more than utilizing my Index controllers. The Sword controllers have a very impartial steadiness level, punchy haptics, and an excellent strong really feel within the arms, even when run with looser straps.

pavlov pimax sword
Taking part in Pavlov (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

After some intensive testing, I began to note a slight motion someplace within the decrease a part of the controller. Ignoring this because it was very slight, I had one other Beat Saber session earlier than noticing the motion was changing into extra pronounced. Stopping, I checked out the controllers and seen that the mechanical becoming / interface between the monitoring ring and the controller physique had developed some free play, or slop. Fastidiously holding the controllers, I may transfer the lengthy base of the physique backwards and forwards towards the monitoring ring.

Wobbly controller (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

I instantly contacted Pimax, and was despatched a alternative set of Sword controllers as a complicated alternative, and supplied with free return delivery which is fulfilled by Amazon within the UK. The alternative controllers arrived earlier than I’d even had an opportunity to discover a native UPS workplace for the return, for an total very spectacular customer support!

Since getting the alternative controllers I’ve continued testing as shortly as potential to see if I may replicate the difficulty. After two weeks of testing, the issue hasn’t reoccurred, however I’d been taking part in so much much less Beat Saber which gave the impression to be the perpetrator with its excessive velocities and stresses.

For instance, Valve needed to rework their monitoring software program after they discovered gamers have been utilizing movement controllers at a lot larger speeds than was ever anticipated, which demonstrates what an excellent check the sport is for {hardware}.

Pimax is conscious of the difficulty I discovered, and has obtained my broken controllers for inspection. I’m not a mechanical engineer but it surely appears to make sense to bolster this space to stop loosening sooner or later. The strain from my decrease hand towards the monitoring ring wasn’t serving to.

Pimax Sword are completely different in that the controller ring and physique are 2 items fastened with a mechanical connection, whereas most controllers use a 1 piece design. My suggestion concerned reinforcing this space to preempt any future issues as stronger or extra aggressive gamers could encounter this difficulty sooner. 

I used to be impressed with Pimax’s response, and their willingness to enhance their gear bodes effectively for his or her future! Because the king of Index controllers’ RMAs, I’m eager to see how my new Sword controllers maintain up, and whether or not the issue will re-occur.

Interview with Kevin Henderson

After spending some weeks with Sword, and earlier than making my conclusions, I needed to know extra about them, so I managed to seize a brief interview with Kevin Henderson, Pimax’s COO.

kevin henderson pimax
Kevin Henderson (Picture by Bionic Buzz supplied by Rob Cole)

From LinkedIn: “Senior government with over 29 years of expertise in worldwide enterprise, product growth, and growth of outstanding gross sales channels. A wonderful observe file and sometimes called a jack of all trades for conceptualizing new superior merchandise, growing the manufacturing, packaging, distribution channels, and authorized work. My present place is COO and firm spokesperson for Pimax VR.”

When did Pimax first begin engaged on a movement controller?

We started engaged on them about 6 months previous to the Kickstarter. The unique plan was to launch controllers suitable with extra than simply Pimax headsets and the Swords are certainly additionally suitable with the HTC Vive household and the Valve Index.

Throughout Kickstarter, there have been plans for various controllers. I recall a model with Touchpad, and a model with Joystick. I’ve heard of “Pimax Sword” and “Pimax Sword Sense”. What occurred to the joystick mannequin?

We delayed the bottom station tracked joystick model till there’s higher help for third-party joystick controllers. FYI joystick controllers might be included within the package deal for our next-gen Actuality sequence headsets that use inside-out monitoring.

What number of revisions did your Group undergo, earlier than arriving on the Sword Controller we have now as we speak?

We went by dozens of variations earlier than the discharge of the trackpad model. The bottom station tracked joystick model additionally had quite a few revisions and prototypes. As soon as the perform prototypes are constructed, they need to go varied phases of testing.

It seems that the ‘Vive Wand’ was used as a template for SteamVR integration. Are you able to clarify extra about this?

The developer instruments that revolve across the wand had some very particular help built-in, so the buttons and controls have been partially dictated by that. The Swords have various distinctive options as effectively that don’t seem in some other controllers.

I’ve heard there have been points making an attempt to incorporate an additional (“B”) button within the design resulting from points with SteamVR enter system, are you able to verify this?

The button help instantly revolves across the capabilities of the drivers and the event instruments.

The monitoring ring may be very fascinating and performs effectively with good clearance for consumer’s arms. How did you arrive at this form?

It’s the results of 1000’s of hours of testing and enormous numbers of samples.

You have got twice as many optical sensors as different SteamVR controllers, how was this achieved? (Usually SteamVR accepts a restrict of 32 channels per processor).

It’s a proprietary design that we spent plenty of time perfecting. The combo of the ring design, the additional sensors, and a a lot larger refresh fee does yield some good outcomes.

I’ve learn you might be utilizing an upgraded IMU, are you able to present extra data on this and its benefits?

Can’t get too deep into particular design points or the BOM however can say the design is significantly upgraded in quite a few technical methods over earlier controllers and plenty of this is because of extra superior elements within the BOM.

I’ve additionally learn that the Sword controllers include finger monitoring sensors, however these require software program help which isn’t at the moment accessible.
Are you able to inform me extra concerning the finger monitoring, and once you count on it to be useful?

The {hardware} is in there but in addition ready for extra strong help within the developer instruments. As soon as the help is there we are able to activate it through drivers and firmware.

The coating of the controller is implausible: it resists sweat and dust very effectively. What is that this coating, and the place did you uncover it?

The coatings return to the unique launch of a few of our BE (enterprise version) model headsets. We experimented so much with coatings and adhesives. We rolled it out with headsets and have continued to refine and enhance it. The Imaginative and prescient sequence headsets (8KX, and many others.) have the coatings and the controllers have an extra advanced model of that.

Detachable batteries are getting used, why was this chosen?

When the undertaking began, we brainstormed so much associated to what options may very well be distinctive to our controllers. We didn’t wish to launch a clone of one thing that already existed. The detachable battery was one of many early options we felt was lacking from different controllers.

What sort of battery life is anticipated throughout a VR session?

Round 3hrs use typically.

Is it higher to cost the batteries while put in within the controller, or by eradicating them and charging them in their very own charger?

It’s really easy to swap them, so I simply use the charger with my spare batteries that got here from Amazon. The battery is kind of widespread and low price.

The haptics are robust which is nice for Beat saber, what sort of haptic motor are you utilizing within the Sword?

I don’t know the haptic motor we ended up utilizing within the BOM, however I do know within the early days we reported it wasn’t robust sufficient and it was upgraded a number of occasions earlier than launch. The discharge model does produce fairly strong haptics.

The respiratory mild seems very cool, does this trigger a small battery drain? Is it potential to show this mild off if a consumer prefers a darkish playspace?

I’ll advocate that to the motive force group. My understanding is that the drain is negligible (it’s like .03% of the general drain), however I agree for darkish play areas: turning it off could be an excellent function.

The set off appears fairly delicate (typically I fireplace a number of pictures by mistake), is it potential to regulate this setting?

We’re engaged on additional software program changes to the set off sensitivity. The varied firmware updates have already many enhancements and we’ll proceed to launch extra.

Are there any future plans for capacitive sensing on the Sword?

We’re all the time exploring many function potentialities for the longer term however nothing on that to announce in the mean time. Our whole engineering group is made of giant VR fanatics, they usually produce samples with function variants on a regular basis for testing. On this case, a few of it relies upon closely on the software program help and instruments which are additionally evolving.

Pimax is a vital SteamVR companion, are you able to inform me something about your relationship with Valve?

We’re massive followers of Valve and all their vital efforts to allow and encourage VR gaming fanatics in all places. For our half, we hope to proceed to profit the Valve platform by releasing high-end mass-produced headsets with bleeding-edge options. Hopefully, our efforts contribute to pleasure within the {industry}.

What are your future plans for controllers growth?

Most of our present controller-oriented {hardware} engineering efforts are going in direction of our new Actuality sequence controllers for the Crystal and the 12K QLED headsets. We not too long ago launched some photos of the samples, and the response was extremely constructive. 

I wish to thank so much Kevin for the time he has devoted to answering my questions and giving me extra particulars concerning the Sword controllers.

Closing ideas and thanks

This has been one of the vital fascinating opinions for me, as a result of I’d heard a lot about Pimax however not had the boldness to strive their {hardware} partly resulting from all of the earlier noise across the Kickstarter, and partly a reluctance to purchase {hardware} instantly from producers.

The retail partnership with Amazon would alleviate my latter concern, as a daily Amazon buyer, this fills me with confidence. I’ve already used this mechanism to purchase and return an costly Vive Professional 2 headset final 12 months.

It’s very straightforward to observe the favored opinion and dismiss Pimax as lower than credible, however that’s not been my expertise right here both from preliminary contact, responsiveness to questions, tremendous slick RMA course of, and willingness to tackle my findings and enhance the product (others may study from this!)

The Sword controllers are literally an excellent effort, they really feel good within the arms, regardless of missing joysticks and the additional button. For suitable software program (older teleportation titles, primarily) they’re an important selection, usually higher than Index. For newer titles, many have completely different motion choices so it’s potential to tweak issues to your liking.

Gunman 2 (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

The buttons labored and continued to work throughout my testing. The set off developed no squeaking or graunching (I’m my Index controllers right here!), the trackpad simply labored, and saved working, though my check wasn’t lengthy sufficient to find out if it may develop the identical difficulty that plagued my Vive controllers.

The monitoring is superb, occlusion is minimized in any respect angles and hand poses I may maneuver myself into. Battery life is workmanlike at 3 hours, and since these batteries are detachable they are often swapped in seconds for a contemporary pair. If the batteries turn out to be depleted by repeated use it’s no difficulty, simply swap in some new batteries and begin once more.

I’m seeing rising numbers of Index house owners with depleted batteries, and a few inventive options from the group to unravel this downside, together with one consumer who strapped a battery to the surface of the physique with wires working inside.

Opening up an Index controller to interchange a battery may be very tough, it wasn’t designed to be rebuildable. Pimax scores on this respect with its detachable battery design. The one draw back is a shorter run time, however 3 hours remains to be lots, and as I’ve stated, a fast swap out and also you’ve bought one other 3 hours of playtime.

Going again to my early questions

May this new controller from Pimax present a extra reasonably priced various to the easy but strong Vive controllers?

Sure, they supply the identical performance by way of software program parity, however with higher grip buttons, snug hand straps, an important trackpad, and wonderful monitoring. I didn’t get to check them for lengthy sufficient to search out out if the trackpad would possibly degrade like used to occur on the Vive controller requiring customers to open them up and shim them.

The Sword controllers are additionally extra reasonably priced than the Vive controllers, although solely accessible as a pair (Pimax may take a look at supplying particular person left/proper controllers like HTC and Valve).

May these present a extra strong various to the reasonably priced, however comparatively fragile Index controllers?

Initially, I’d have stated sure, however now I droop my judgment due to the difficulty with the mechanical connection between the monitoring ring and controller physique. Nevertheless, this ought to be fairly straightforward to resolve, and with Pimax’s engineers already trying into this, I’m positive it will likely be resolved earlier than many extra gamers get their arms on Sword controllers.

By way of enter sturdiness, the Sword controllers didn’t begin to degrade like a lot of my Index controllers had, though a typical downside for Index was joystick drift, and clearly not having joysticks means Sword avoids this specific difficulty, on the expense of free locomotion help.

Additionally, not having a joystick means nothing to snag on pockets of pants and snap off, and that is good for Beat Saber once more…

It was pleasantly quiet with out squeaking triggers (Index) and neither the set off blades on Sword nor the buttons began to wobble (Index) ,in order that’s an enormous bonus.

So ought to I purchase them?

This actually comes all the way down to the video games you play, and the way you wish to play them. With SteamVR having a extremely configurable enter setup, there are a lot of methods to configure your controllers.

Individuals even have their very own preferences, I’m one of many lesser few that also just like the Vive wand and suppose it’s nice selection for location-based venues the place onboarding is minimal or typically non-existent.

The Vive controller has a “right here maintain this, press right here” simplicity which Sword in some methods loses in just by having the massive monitoring rings and hand straps which generally is a little complicated for first-timers.  However as soon as fitted, they’re straightforward to make use of with a significantly better grip button which after the difficulty of trackpad sturdiness, was the most important grievance concerning the unique Vive “wand”.

pimax sword controllers box
Sword controllers and their field (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

With Sword missing the additional face button, you might be lacking one other enter component, however that extremely configurable setup in SteamVR means there are workarounds to get it arrange in a good means.

The difficulty of joysticks, finger monitoring help, and even that “lacking button” is a direct results of utilizing the Vive driver in SteamVR, and there isn’t a means round that till the system architect (Valve) offers extra help. For those who research “the JSON” of an Index controller, you see that Index may be very completely different from Vive, with Index controllers utilizing a wealth of customized firmware developed by Valve themselves.

SteamVR builders would possibly inform you that it’s a little bit of a “black field”, so growing new controllers isn’t wherever as easy as gamers would possibly suppose, the Vive and Index templates can be found plus some open supply drivers which may be tailored you probably have the ability. 

Personally, I like these controllers and loved taking part in video games like Beat Saber, Pistol Whip, House Pirate Coach, and Half-Life Alyx with them. The largest power of SteamVR is the ecosystem, letting you combine and match controllers. There’s nothing to cease you from utilizing Vive, Sword, and Index controllers in your system. You may even select a distinct controller for every hand for those who like.

Enter choices for SteamVR (Picture supplied by Rob Cole)

My feeling with Sword is that Pimax will proceed to enhance them, the set off form (barely sharp) is a straightforward repair, if I had purchased them myself I’d have simply taken some effective moist and dry sandpaper to them to easy out the set off blade form. Pimax is conscious of sensitivity points with the set off, and the surplus set off journey: these are enhancements that aren’t tough to implement when you have got onshore manufacturing services.

My takeaway? A great first effort, that may solely get higher with additional growth. And sure, I plan to get a pair to enrich my Index controllers, that’s about the perfect endorsement I could make right here. There is perhaps a difficulty with the mechanical connection between the physique and ring, but it surely hasn’t occurred once more, but. Nevertheless, Pimax’s guarantee backup was very fast and hassle-free, offering new controllers earlier than I’d even shipped my originals again, prime marks for customer support.

Nevertheless, I gained’t be taking part in some video games with them (primarily those based mostly on free locomotion), however there’s loads of good software program that works higher with trackpads, and for that, Sword is effectively price . It’s lso the only option for individuals who simply favor teleport/blink motion.

For Beat Saber fanatics it is a nice selection, higher than Vive controller by way of monitoring and weight steadiness, however let’s see how Pimax reinforce that mechanical connection as Beat Saber is understood to push controllers (and gamers) to their limits.

I’m very to see what Pimax does subsequent, each by way of refining Sword, and manufacturing their new Crystal and 12K headsets. They’ve already supplied me a Crystal headset to check, as soon as the self-assembly equipment is launched… so sit up for a future check right here on Skarredghost.com.

Thanks for studying! Rob Cole

(Header picture supplied by Rob Cole)

Disclaimer: this weblog accommodates commercial and affiliate hyperlinks to maintain itself. For those who click on on an affiliate hyperlink, I will be very blissful as a result of I will earn a small fee in your buy. You could find my boring full disclosure right here.


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