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

At this time I host one other improbable visitor put up written by VR ergonomics professional (and good friend of mine) Rob Cole. Rob is a giant fan of PCVR (he even tried to design a brand new SteamVR controller, do you bear in mind?) and not too long ago he had the chance to go hands-on with the high-resolution Pimax Crystal headset. He needed to jot down on my weblog his opinion on this system to tell the group and naturally I accepted, as a result of I’m very happy to host one other certainly one of his super-detailed articles.

Rob… the stage is yours 🙂

Introducing Pimax Crystal

Following my check 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 identify providing the widest subject of view within the shopper VR house, to the delight of many simulation and VR lovers.

The subsequent technology 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 very best pixel quantity of any shopper VR headset, filled with tons of options to boost picture high quality.”

Generally 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 supplied….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 superb likelihood we may see one thing in direction of the tip of this 12 months, with a possible launch to customers in 2024. That is the newest information on 12K instantly from Pimax:

“The Pimax 12K QLED is processing and we’re blissful to announce we’ve accomplished over 70% of the work certifying the event of the method. Many of the 12K QLED elements are shared with the Crystal, so you will notice the numerous shared methods when seeing opinions and hands-on with the Crystal.

As with every improvement effort, there have been challenges with the 12K QLED that we’ve to beat and some that also require optimization. The good factor in regards to 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 might be enabled by means of future software program updates.  A wi-fi module and Steam VR “lighthouse” faceplate have additionally been introduced as at the moment being in improvement, for launch later this 12 months. 

My preliminary check was to seek out out what the tethered PCVR expertise was like, earlier than having the ability to check out the total vary of options over the following couple of months. This might be my second check of {hardware} from Pimax, following final 12 months’s Sword controllers. After receiving the monitoring info for my Pimax Crystal cargo, I regarded ahead to what can 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 collection 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 collection might be launched later this 12 months, as soon as the software program updates have enabled the additional options of the system, and it will likely be potential for me to present a extra balanced view of the Crystal as a completed product.


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

Two 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.

Photographs from the system cargo (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

The outer cardboard sleeve of the big field had taken some impression injury on one nook, in all probability from bouncing across the inside a courier van beneath a bunch of different packages.

Fortunately, the Pimax field inside appeared intact, although it had just a little crease in the identical place because the outer. The inside field was manufactured from thick cardboard with foam inlay and appeared to have accomplished 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 had been all included, and DMAS audio system had been already fitted (an elective improve).

Crystal Headset

As soon as the Crystal headset and controllers had been let loose from the packaging, I sat them on a cushion in my VR room and took some images. Since an image paints a thousand phrases, listed here are two photos exhibiting among the totally different components of the Crystal headset, with my labels indicating the totally different components.

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

Every thing 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 sporting.

The interpupillary distance might be rapidly 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 shopper 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 typical IPD for women and men in lots of populations is round 64mm and 62mm respectively. There are additionally further IPD “offset” changes obtainable within the Pimax PC shopper, 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 info from my final eye check.

pimax crystal
Particulars on different components 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 styles as is virtually potential.

Sound is supplied by extra-aural (off-ear) audio system, at all times a welcome function eradicating any bodily contact or warmth build-up typical of on-ear headphones. Boasting an identical BMR driver to the Valve Index, I regarded ahead to testing 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 smart 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 among the inner components that come collectively to create the Pimax Crystal, beginning with the show panels and optical lenses. 


Crystal makes use of BOE 3.2” LCD panels boasting a decision of 2880 x 2880 pixels per eye, offering a better decision than some other shopper VR headset at the moment obtainable 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 total story, as angular decision (typically known as “pixels-per-degree” i.e. PPD) can 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 superb working subject of view. 

The Valve Index has 13 PPD, whereas Crystal gives 35 PPD, which goes to be a big soar in resolving energy.  For reference, human imaginative and prescient (retinal decision) is 60 PPD, which may 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 (personalized 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 gives a “native dimming” ratio of 20000:1, while the shows boast a 100% NTSC coloration 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 fee 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}.


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’s not 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 value.” 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. Uncertain which lenses my headset had shipped with, one consumer instructed “placing the lens within the fridge because the glass goes chilly!” The very first thing I did was to take away the fitting lens utilizing the equipped instrument, 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 barely a few grams every), this may also be decided contained in the Pimax software program which units the distortion profile in accordance with info supplied 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 value, some additional weight, and extra complication for manufacturing, however critically permits for broken lenses to be rapidly changed (accidents do occur). This may save a headset from going to {the electrical} graveyard, because it’s not troublesome to wreck a lens, however typically laborious to supply a substitute and difficult to efficiently match.

Person-replaceable lenses additionally enable 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 prospects, informing them a few second set of lenses, which Pimax continues to be aiming to provide. These are described as “Non-obligatory Large FOV lens that will increase FOV by 15%”.  Nonetheless, the ensuing FOV quantity has not but been decided, that is one thing I anticipate finding 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 superb 100 grams of weight over polycarbonate lenses, however providing a lot larger optical readability with out glare or god rays, so effectively definitely worth the weight penalty and further expense of producing. 

It’s additionally a lot more durable to scratch or injury a glass lens while cleansing or throughout day by day use, in comparison with plastic lenses, so needs to be far more sturdy in the long run. And if broken, might be rapidly swapped out. Good work, Pimax!


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

In addition to including appreciable value to the product, it additionally provides weight. Nonetheless, it’s essential to recollect it is a “twin operate” system, with a small swap on the headset that permits the number of the 2 modes:

  1. PCVR mode with 6DoF SLAM monitoring. It sends monitoring information 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.  


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 means of the tether cable.

pimax crystal battery
Battery of the system (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 “sizzling swapping” throughout a play session, just like the small inner 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 aspect; these are very stiff when new and fairly troublesome to make use of, however repeated insertions make it a lot simpler because the plastic components begin to put on in just a little.

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 inner battery was working as supposed.

Using batteries might seem to be a further complication for PCVR customers: often the run time is barely restricted by the battery capability of movement controllers as tethered headsets draw all their energy instantly from the PC. However eight hours of playtime from two batteries needs 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 lavatory breaks.

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

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


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 transferring about.

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

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

The headset aspect of every tether plugs right into a small DP repeater field and extension cable on the left aspect 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 the event you gently work the connector by means of the opening within the casing you may slide it into place earlier than snapping it shut.

Face Cushions

My Crystal was equipped with two face cushions, a typical 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 regarded fairly large, which may enable 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 aspect 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 change 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 crimson mark and just a little discomfort. Because the harness will not be 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 seen a barely sharp plastic edge on the base of the battery bay, the place the cushion wasn’t fitted fairly sq., however had rotated just a little 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 seen once more, although Pimax might need to put a mild radius alongside that plastic edge to make it much less vulnerable to inflicting consumer discomfort if the cushion has moved.

The form of the cushion may additionally profit from some additional improvement, 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 just a little.

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 acceptable form to swimsuit my occipital match.

High Strap

What appears 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) just a little 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. 

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

As with becoming many top-strap headsets, it’s essential prejudge the place the headset goes to finish up sitting in your head after it has sagged underweight, to take care of the proper vertical alignment with the lenses. It’s best to do that while sporting a headset, in order that adjustment might be rapidly optimized by adjusting and checking.

However with the thick energy strap considerably limiting entry to the changes while the headset is being worn, it might be simpler to take away the headset, set the strap size, refit the headset, check it, and make any additional changes as required. Except a number of individuals are sharing the headset it’s one thing it’s essential arrange solely as soon as, so not a giant problem.  


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 subject.

The DMAS audio system are easy to suit and come from the sooner 8K Actuality collection, therefore the blue coloration of the mounting puck. The speaker quantity might be managed utilizing the amount adjusters on the fitting 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 had been left in place and did a superb job with all the advantages of off-ear audio which after you have tried, might discover laborious to return to sporting over-ear cans.

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

By way of adjustment, the audio system can rotate round a set pivot, and have a sliding mechanism to offer some peak adjustment; that means I may set the audio system at simply the fitting peak for my ears. Regardless of BMR audio system being extra tolerant of misplacement than utilizing regular on-ear speaker drivers, there may be nonetheless a candy spot for BMR driver placement to get the most effective sound high quality, making it essential to get your ears and audio system aligned.

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


The Crystal’s movement controllers regarded neat, although quite generic. Nonetheless, 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 potential 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, every one weighing solely 130 grams. They function a small joystick, X and Y buttons, Menu and Pimax buttons, aspect grip buttons, and frontal triggers. Rechargeable batteries contained in the controller with a USB-C charging socket on the base of the grips enable for the controllers to work.

The {hardware} for hand monitoring is already included, 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 system (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

By way of operate, they felt enough, however when it comes to match just a little too small for my medium-sized fingers discovering the aspect of my thumbs catching the within of the monitoring ring when transferring 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 giant, and comparatively heavy headset.  It has been reported as being practically 1.2kg, however I needed to instantly learn the way this may impression the general expertise.

Headset entrance. You may see how a lot the system is huge (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

Crystal is bodily giant as a result of it shares the identical exterior casing because the forthcoming 12K, regardless of having a extra common subject of view.  The rationale for sharing many elements (together with the exterior casing) is to make the 2 merchandise less expensive to fabricate and develop, in any other case, it could require two product strains of distinctive components and two software program improvement 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 methods 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 inner hot-swap battery, tether mounting {hardware}, 100g of replaceable glass lenses with eye monitoring {hardware}, and off-ear speaker pods. You may see the way it rapidly provides up when it comes to weight.

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

Earlier Pimax headsets just like the 8K line, and the forthcoming 12K, are recognized for his or her large lenses which offer the ultra-wide subject of view that Pimax is known for. Crystal lenses are a lot smaller (common dimension) than the 8K and 12K lenses, therefore the big hole seen on both aspect, 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). Compared, my Index weighed in at 791g together with a 3D printed large 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 a giant casing, that huge casing will not be significantly heavy in itself, possibly.

Placing the Crystal on my head was revealing although, with a superb front-to-rear weight distribution serving to to heart the headset on my head. The rear battery (120 g)  and related mounting {hardware} had been doing a superb 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 rapidly 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 sporting the system (Picture by R.Cole, S.Ramos)

I tightened the headset strap so far as comfortably potential and moved my head about, confirming my suspicion about inertia: there was an inclination 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 mixture 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 problem I in all probability wanted a barely narrower face cushion to assist safe the headset in place and decrease 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 resolve becoming points, or utilizing weatherstrip foam below the perimeters of the cushion, so that is one thing to discover in a while.

As a result of weight of Crystal, the headset may additionally profit from a thicker, wider head strap to offer 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 shopper: it was simple to obtain, set up, and begin operating on my Home windows 10 PC. As soon as put in, the headset is linked, or so I assumed. To not disguise 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 instructed 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, typically taking quite a few restarts to get the headset acknowledged simply as soon as. 

I then tried reinstalling the Pimax shopper, 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 classes 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 aspect 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 steel 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 linked the primary time, and we had been off!

Nonetheless, 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 because of this 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 an odd model of Steam Dwelling; I appeared to be below 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 house, trying down by means of a window on the sport choice menu far beneath. I ran the room setup instrument in Pimax Shopper once more, however then discovered myself excessive above the Steam Dwelling home, trying far off into the mountains which demonstrated the excessive PPD very clearly.

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

Utilizing FPSVR, I rapidly made a guide adjustment to ground 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 verify the sphere of view that was seen in my headset.

FOV verify

Headsets have a most rendered subject 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 subject of view might be obtained utilizing instruments that ask the headset driver for the data, however after having obtained that info, I used to be enthusiastic about what I may see for myself.

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

Utilizing the consolation face cushion and tightening the Crystal as agency as potential to cease any undesirable motion, I ran the instrument (sporting the headset while utilizing a keyboard) and obtained the outcomes as seen beneath within the picture exhibiting the output into an internet browser on the finish of the check session.

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

Stereo overlap was a helpful 74%, while the “form” of the FOV was a giant 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 large face cushion), utilizing the identical instrument supplied the outcomes seen within the picture above, a contact extra stereo overlap. Index’s FOV regarded 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 attention-grabbing, 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 superb sport (thrilling stuff)!

First Expertise

Glad with my FOV verify, I began certainly one of my favourite purposes, “Aircar”, which is constructed on Unreal Engine and at all times appears nice at larger resolutions. As I’d had some points getting Crystal’s movement controllers to attach, and keep linked (these had 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 sport.

Aircar has centering controls built-in, so it was very simple to get myself in simply the fitting place to swimsuit the in-game cockpit. Beginning within the storage as at all times, I flew ahead and got here to a pause while hovering outdoors 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 advised me this was type 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 outdoors my VR room with the tether cleanly passing below the door, regardless of the door being firmly shut it seemed like a jet engine was operating on the opposite aspect. 

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

I used to be getting 45-50 fps however the visuals had been stunning, completely gorgeous with large ranges of element and an excellent clear image all the way down to the road stage. Regardless of having good VR legs,  I lowered the headset decision to 70%, which supplied a extra snug 90 fps, while nonetheless trying very sharp and extremely detailed. Speedy thought, simply wow!  

Throughout a few seated classes in Aircar and Venture Vehicles 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 typically pitch ahead, begin rolling even when sport paused, it was fairly random.

This continued to be a difficulty in a number of video games in addition to in Steam Dwelling. After some dialogue with Pimax they agreed to exchange my headset. Taking into consideration this was a pre-production pattern, and not using a technician inspecting the headset it was troublesome to inform what had occurred, although the big field had taken a fairly laborious blow throughout transport, maybe damaging one thing inside…

I supplied to ship the primary headset again, however they suggested me {that a} substitute was on the way in which, and to retain the primary headset till issues had been resolved. High marks to Pimax for its wonderful customer support!

Second headset

The second headset arrived after only a week and got here in a in a different way formed field, issues had been additionally laid out in a different way 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. Probably the most attention-grabbing factor I discovered bundled with the brand new headset was a USB hub designed to offer help to the battery by means 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 aspect. This was a lot simpler having accomplished this earlier than, and it rapidly 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 aspect.

The hub was swiftly eliminated, and the connection was as soon as once more secure. Nonetheless, this was at a value of no battery help by means of USB, and the slight discount in mobility and attain from utilizing the thicker and shorter copper tether cable quite 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 basic enhancements in controller monitoring, although nonetheless a bit glitchy and fewer exact than is critical 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 grew to become apparent that the lenses have a candy spot (optimum alignment relative to eyeballs) that is simple to set within the flawed place because of the 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.

Total the headset setup took some observe as it is extremely 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 most effective match potential utilizing the snug face cushion, and looking out 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 coloration fringing across the edges, while Wevr’s “The Blue” had an intense blue ring across the outdoors of the lenses. The quantity of distortion appears to differ barely relying on the sport engine, Venture Vehicles 2 (Insanity), Valve’s The Lab (Supply 2 and Unity), and Aircar (Unreal) all current issues in a different way.

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

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

Eradicating the face cushion completely 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 most effective match. With out mechanical eye reduction adjustment (Z axis) the one resolution was to change the face cushion, though skinny face cushions are usually not snug to make use of with heavier or firmly clamped VR headsets throughout longer classes.

A right away and really sensible resolution was to keep away from trying throughout the lens, by trying predominantly ahead or going old fashioned utilizing my head to go searching a scene. After a number of classes this rapidly grew to become second nature, minimizing any seen distortion, which saved my eyes far more snug as swimming is greatest saved 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 ground stage, additionally reported by different customers.

Pimax instructed utilizing OVR Superior Settings (free on Steam) as an interim measure to set ground 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 grew to become undeniably apparent throughout early testing, and all through my testing, was that their claims about readability and determination weren’t unfounded – this was a severely 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 trying far into the gap, was breathtaking.

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

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

Driving in Venture Vehicles 2, I used to be shocked by the standard and vibrancy of the world outdoors 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 vehicles 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 regarded tremendous life like, 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 contemporary expertise another time. Valve’s software program optimization chops present by means of with a clean snug 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 potential, and choosing 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 superb 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 can 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 methods, it advantages from having some furnishings, objects, or paintings on the partitions of your room, to present the SLAM monitoring one thing to lock onto.

Controller actions like utilizing the bow in “In Loss of life”, 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 methods 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 Loss of life 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 pleasurable.

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

Pimax has supplied to ship me a Lighthouse faceplate as quickly because it’s obtainable, which might marry the most effective of each worlds, a Crystal clear 35 PPD headset with precision lighthouse monitoring; I look ahead to 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 look ahead to exploring later this 12 months. Very attention-grabbing to see how that every one works, and which titles might be obtainable on the Pimax retailer.

One other huge change might 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 carried out it needs to be potential to arrange the IPD mechanically and run dynamic foveated rendering which has substantial efficiency beneficial properties 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 quick 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 potential! 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 means of this introduction to Pimax Crystal.

Rob Cole

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

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