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Meet the First 4K VR Headset

While the initial development of VR HMD’s (Head Mounted Devices i.e. headsets) is coming out of United States, Taiwan and Singapore, it is widely expected that the next generation of VR devices, and most progress will come out of China. There are over a hundred headset manufacturers, and while some have doubtful track record – there are many manufacturers that see VR as  the ticked for their “place in the Sun”.

One such vendor is PIMAX. Thanks to David from Gearbest VR equipment etail store, we learned of an exciting headset coming out of Shenzhen, China. PIMAX 4K UHD Virtual Reality Headset could the the world’s most advanced VR headset. While HTC Vive and Oculus Rift both feature paltry 2.5 million pixels (only 1.25 million pixels per eye), PIMAX claims a full 4K resolution, 8.29 million pixels.

The 3840×2160 splits into two, giving users a resolution of 1920×2160 pixels per eye (2K), four times as much . We asked the manufacturer about the refresh rate of the headset, and it was stated that the panel uses very low 60 Hz refresh rate, with an “overdrive” function. We are withholding our recommendation until we see the production unit. The potential “overdrive” function seems interesting, as 4K panel ticking 90 times a second could represent the “silver bullet” that we are all waiting for. If you’re a pixel-per-inch lover, seeing a figure of 806 PPI should make you quite happy.

The dual 53mm lenses enable 110 degrees field-of-view (FOV) with adjustment between 58-71 mm from the eyes. This should enable good amount of space for users wearing prescription glasses. Six degrees of Freedom (6DOF) comes through built-in dual 1000Hz gyroscopes, accelerometer, magnetometer and light sensor. Features however, don’t end here. Unlike the vast majority of products coming out of Far East, the PIMAX team focused on reducing the potential health impact of VR headsets. There’s Blue laser eye protection, as well as auto light adjustment and auto-demisting systems.

PIMAX comes with bundled software, including the PiPlay driver which enables baseline Oculus and full Steam VR compatibility. We saved the best for last. Gearbest is selling the PIMAX 4K VR headset for just $349. That’s $50 more than $299.99 for OSVR’s Hacker Development Kit 1.4, upon this unit is remotely based, but also massive $249.01 cheaper than Oculus Rift. The difference in price is enough for you to go from a Radeon RX 480 or GeForce GTX 1060 to a GeForce GTX 1070 (and $20 more gets you the cheapest GTX 1080), and that’s a significant difference in performance for your VR experience.

We’ve acquired the unit and can’t wait to publish our review. If the headset is as good as it sounds, Oculus and HTC might be in trouble.

  • DNA Cowboy

    By the power of Greyskull, just what DCS needs, a 4K HMD, I will definitely be buying one at that price.

  • Dan

    If you are going to publish articles, can you proof read them first please? This has so many spelling and grammatical errors which made it incredibly difficult to read.

    • Nic Tanghe

      If you understood the article WTF does it even matter?

      If it matters so much to you why don’t you correct the article and post it here ?

      • Mike Strandberg

        no excuse for laziness, mate. Have you seen the movie Idiocracy???

  • Dubster

    Controllers? Sensors for the room?

  • Sounds like it doesn’t have proper positional tracking, and it’s relying on an accelerometer for much of its 6DOF. Which makes it useless, since those have a tendency to drift over time.

  • johnmcc

    The first 4k headsets will not usually fit the bill, but its a start. Without 4k, VR is just a silly gimmick. The reason so many people get nauseated in VR is due to the visible motion of the screen door effect. Until they can smooth out the pixels and all but make them disappear, VR will never be truly mainstream.

    • The screen door effect is basically invisible in both the Rift and Vive – the low resolution makes everything look slightly blurry and obscures some detail and that’s about all.

      Resolutions higher than what we have now are important for increased presence and are *essential* for text readability and viewing small or distant objects. But 2160×1200 definitely doesn’t cause motion sickness any more than a short-sighted person leaving their glasses at home would.

      At this point the dominant barriers to adoption are word of mouth (VR is very difficult to explain via words, images or video), price ($3000+ for a PC + headset) and general clunkiness (big heavy headsets, thick tether, etc)

      • silvaring

        If you don’t think screen door is a problem with CV1 play the beginning of Edge of Nowhere. Obviously going to be more noticeable on white backgrounds / horizon points but yeah it sucks because not only does the issue of screen door feel discomforting but it also functionally handicaps the experience (E.G in Dirt Rally when you’re trying to gauge where exactly a path in the distance is changing or sitting in a cinema trying to get that theater like experience).

    • Nowry85

      So True, I think 8K for both eyes will be quite enough for 160 degree FOV and a convincing resolution.

    • Redlinebuzz

      Nope, wrong, I got the RV1 a month ago and have used it exclusively in DCS, coming from a triple monitor setup and also 4k gaming the feeling of actually being in the cockpit negates the screen door effect 100 percent, I don’t even notice it even If I could remember to look for it ! Time to come out of the dark ages, speaking from experience, VR is here, no need to wait.

      • johnmcc

        Sorry, but you’re on the minority side who likes silly gimmicks. The majority won’t use that expensive crap that has awful resolution and pathetic response time.

        • Redlinebuzz

          Haha haha, you keep on believing that, I’ll keep on having an amazing Sim experience every day, trust me, it ain’t no gimmick…….

      • Tyrus Gail

        You are wrong. 90’s VR failed because of poor graphic (insufficient hardware). And if today VR do not improve very fast it will die, like it did before. CV1 for ex. is not VR – it is horribly pixelated demo of VR viewing through a pipe (and I KNOW what I’m talking about). That’s why I will not spend 600 bucks for it.

        • Redlinebuzz

          Your CV1 must be faulty, I’d send it back for a refund, I assume you own one since you know what you’re talking about ….

          • Tyrus Gail

            I just have good eyesight. Such as all my friends and family.. So – not our eyesight but 2016 VR sucks…

        • Judotoss

          The worst way to convince someone that you know what you’re talking about is to state that fact.

          • Tyrus Gail

            Really? I think that the worst thing what happened to VR is this ‘mutual admiration society’ where criticism is forbidden. 2016 HMD are not even close to something called ‘reality’. And i repeat – i know (In contrast to many vr cheerleaders) what I’m talking about. I was starting with Oculus DK, gear vr etc. All 2016 VR exists only in dreams of gamers, not in reality. No one I know will buy this after spending couple of minutes with the newest VR HMD’s. Reactions are simple – ‘wow pixels, ‘boredom’, ‘so… what else’. Idea? Great (exists from the 50’s?). Performance? Very poor. And yes, I know that.

        • Tonald Drump

          With the new curved OLED screens in 8K resolution, we’ll have lifelike, wide FOV VR in no time. It’s all about the price point and market acceptance. Currently VR is a growing trend, and it’s only going to get better every single year.

    • Judotoss

      Really, the nausea comes from the discrepancy between motion detection in the inner ear versus the eyes.

    • Tonald Drump

      True, I just tried the Oculus + Touch at Best Buy in a demo, which was awesome, but I was IMMEDIATELY disappointed by the low resolution (1080 looks a lot worse when it’s magnified), even 4K isn’t going to be sufficient to look like 4K does on my 65″ TV at 6 to 7′ away. My TV can reproduce near life-like images, even or especially in 3D, and something being magnified like that is going to need to step it up, perhaps into 8K before it looks lifelike. I’ve watched some stuff on my TV that while looking at it, and then around the room, I noticed that the detail was so extreme, I couldn’t tell it was coming from a screen. This was using 2D to 3D conversion, and I had to tune my picture settings, but it’s incredible. VR will get there soon, it’s just the pricing that will hold it back for a while.

  • jack smith

    smells like fakery.

  • Daniel Ryan Mueller

    I cannot wait to hear the review.

  • Bluecider

    HTC Must have something in the works, I’m sure. I like the options that the current HTC Vive has, but would just like to see it in a 4K iteration.
    I don’t really care much about wireless, as I’ll be using it for sims and games where I use HOTAS controllers and such.
    Besides, wireless won’t have the necessary bandwidth to really push out the quality needed.

    The real question is, will 60Hz and only 110 FOV be enough? I’ve been hearing you need at least 70-80Hz refresh for the optimal experience with VR, especially with gaming.

    I guess Display Port 1.4 version can go over 60Hz, but I think HDMI is not there yet.

    And, I’m not talking 4K per eye (thought that would be nice and is essentially 8K).

    SO would Display Port1.4 on a GTX1080 have enough power to drive a 4K VR headset?

    Titan Pascal or upcoming GTX1080ti ?

    • ScorieDivine

      4Kper eye is not “essentially 8K”, it’s 2X4K. Or 8K/2, if you prefer.

      4XFull HD (2K) = 4K
      4XUHD (4K) = 8K

      • sukramko

        They should standardize to xK per eye or total resolution if one screen is used for both eyes.

    • SaltyDiet

      It’s been said that 72fps is what the eye can see, and after that, the difference is minimal and it all comes down to frame timings for a smooth non stutter experience. To be on the safe side, 75Hz should be the actual VR standard for frame rates. It will help bigtime in regards to performance and scaling.

      • MasterElwood

        Ahhh… no. The difference between 75 and 90 is CLEARLY visible. Just try a DK2 and then a rift.

        The sweet spot is somewhere between 120fps and 144fps – most VR researchers agree on that

        • Judotoss

          That is, there’s a noticeable difference for VR, which halves the refresh rate (one half for each eye) of 120 ( which equals 60 for each eye) so you are disagreeing but saying the same thing. The eye sees about 60-70, but a 3d display shows two separate images so the frame rate is divided.

          • MasterElwood

            You are confusing VR with active 3D TV. VR shows the full frame rate for each eye.

    • Tonald Drump

      Wireless in either 2.4ghz or 5ghz can both support well more bandwidth than is required to stream 4K. I know, because I do it all the time, son. I live 4K on a daily basis.

      • MasterElwood

        But not with the latency needed for VR. Not even close. THATS the major problem for “wireless VR” – not bandwidth.

      • Angelo

        In order to squeeze 4K video through wifi, it needs to be compressed by either H.265 or VP9. You may be able to encode and decode it in real time, but you will always produce significant latency, which you then have to counter somehow. I won’t say it’s impossible, but it will always be easier to just use a cord.

      • Bluecider

        Thanks pa… (Thinking of the STNG Episode ‘A Fist Full of Datas’)

  • morio

    Got mine through Gearbest/DHL today. Total garbage. The awful head tracking induces headaches almost immediately. Lenses fog up almost instantly. Can’t set the brightness. There is severe color banding. The IPD setting seems to do nothing as I can get it never small enough to avoid cross eyedness. The software sometimes does not work, i.e. the headset does not turn on. Tested on a 1070 running at 4K/60Hz. Do not buy.

    I have an Oculus and HTC btw, this does not even come close to being usable. Yes the resolution is nice and running Virtual Desktop you can actually read text. But that’s about it.

    • Jay Moore

      I am looking to use this headset precisely for Virtual Desktop. Is the sweet spot clear at the corners? Is the 60hz blurry when you turn your head? Is the screen LCD, or AMOLED? Is there a way to overclock the display? Would you say it’s worth buying if the main use is Virtual Desktop? Can you take comparison shots of the 4k screen versus either the Rift, or Vive? Do you know if they allow you to return the product?

  • Rob Cram

    We’ve acquired the unit and can’t wait to publish our review. If the headset is as good as it sounds, Oculus and HTC might be in trouble. When is the review forthcoming?

    • Invertex

      HTC won’t be in trouble, this is only a VR viewer, it lacks controls and precise head tracking, and never mind the room scale movement that the Vive allows for.

      • sukramko

        OK, then only oculus is in trouble.

  • wenhen

    Currently the reviews show positive feedback regarding this 4K VR.
    https://m.aliexpress.com/getSiteProductEvaluationPwa.htm?productId=32670522002

    Firtst Imprerssion
    http://forum.pimaxvr.com/t/firtst-imprerssion/29

    the compatible mode support SteamVR and Oculus VR games.

    Patented low persistence customized 4K panel, it’s not full persistence standard panel, so there is no smear issue in Pimax 4K VR Refresh rate: up to 90Hz in Asynchronous mode, 60Hz in Synchronous mode
    I just find the display information show they’re using low persistence pannel, http://www.gearbest.com/pc-headset/pp_423476.html?wid=21

  • SaltyDiet

    Will wait for revision 2 with better headtracking and Steam/Oculus support, and possibly HDR support and hope it brings with it less color banding. 4k seems very tempting though, but 75Hz need to be the absolute minimal standard for stutter free gaming.