Ok, here’s my more detailed review/first impressions of the V3 prototype of the pimax 8k. I own an oculus rift so I will primarily be comparing to that but I have demoed a few vives as well so I know what they look like and their capabilities. I tested the V2 earlier in the day for the first time as well, so I will compare to that also.
Comfort: They didn’t have the upgraded head strap with built-in headphones for either the v2 or v3 demo yet (they said they only have a prototype in China right now), but even without that the comfort was very good. The headset is very light, lighter than the oculus rift, vive, or gearvr and it felt good on my face and seemed to stay in place as I moved my head around quickly. The one negative that I noticed with the v3 is that the lenses were extremely close to my eyes; my eyelashes were touching them and created a bit of discomfort.
FOV: Certainly better than the rift or vive and it was nice to have my vision opened up compared to those. It didn’t quite wow me the way I thought it would; I didn’t do any scientific tests, but I wouldn’t have thought it was a full 200 degrees. Pimax said they are only using about 80% of the screen right now and they will be tweaking the lenses more with v4 and v5 to try to get that utilization to 100% so maybe the fov will increase a bit also.
Resolution: This was markedly improved over the ridt/vive, especially for text. Distant objects were more visible and clearer. However, some of the games didn’t have supersampling on and you could definitely see jaggies. Because the pixels per field of view are not exponentially higher than the rift/vive due to the input resolution being 5120x1400 upscaled to the full 7680x2160, the increase was not as much as you’d think given the rift is 2k and this is 4Kx2. I’d like to see some supersampling added to see how this improves but the desktop 1080 the demo was running on was struggling to even maintain 75fps so you’d need at least a 1080ti to even consider that.
SDE: Screen door effect was the one area in my opinion exponentially improved, especially over the vive. I had just demoed using a vive before trying the pimax and the difference was night and day. It is visible if you look for it but it’s easy to get immersed in the experience and not notice at all, unlike the rift/vive where you’re constantly aware of it in the back of your mind at least.
Display and lens quality: This is where things get the most uncertain. After noticing that things didn’t seem very smooth, especially when physically moving my body around, I asked the CEO what refresh rate it was and at first he said 90hz, but when we pushed him and asked if this demo here was actually running at 90 he then said no, both the v2 and v3 were actually running at 75hz. When we expressed disappointment and reminded him that the kickstarter prominently advertises 90 and that no where they had said the prototypes weren’t running at the full 90 he apologized and said they were working hard to try to get it operational. He said something about supply chain issues, that the display processing board said in the specs that it could do 4k at 90hz but they were having issues running it at more than 75 at the 5120x1400 input resolution. It seems like they are quoting 90 when asked in faith that they will work out the issue. Hopefully they do, but it’s a risk to consider as the kickstarter nears funding. So far I haven’t compared the v2 to v3 much and that’s because the only real differences are the lenses used and the cable being a single displayport cable instead of two hdmi cables. When I tested the V2 earlier in the day I noticed some distracting distortion on the edges of my fov that made moving around a bit disorienting. Thankfully, the V3 largely solved this, but there was still a small bit on the edges. I tested this by looking at the circle steamvr makes on the floor when in standing only mode and the circle got a bit elongated if viewed in the periphery. Also, the way the V3 lenses work, there are three parts to each one, an inner lens similar to the V2, and what looked like two outer lenses pasted together for the outer lens. It was at the seam where if I viewed a static object straight on then moved my head so I was viewing out of the periphery, the object would jump slightly to a different location when it passed the seam. This is something pimax said would be corrected in the next prototype version, since they said all the pieces of the lens would be integrated into a single lens. Finally, the display itself: I didn’t notice any ghosting, even when moving my head around quickly. The black levels were also very good for an lcd, not as good as the rift /vive but the God rays were much improved so I’d rather have the slightly worse black levels. The colors and brightness are the one area I’d want improvement. I asked if the brightness could be adjusted and they said it could, they called one of the engineers in China to increase it for me in the software but after talking for a few minutes they determined it was too difficult to do in the limited time we have so unfortunately I couldn’t test at any other brightness than the default.
Tracking: Tracking seemed very good, as accurate as the rift/vive when moving my head around, the only issue I saw was when positionally moving, it was not as smooth. I don’t know if this was due to the lower 75hz refresh rate or with the tracking processing but it uses the valve lighthouse system so it shouldn’t be a permanent issue as long as the refresh rate problems get sorted.
Individual game impressions: There might be a bit of repetition in this section but I’ll let you know what my thoughts were with each title.
theBlu- This is the only experience I tried with the v2, colors and contrast seemed good, close to what I remembered on rift. The underwater world was much clearer and more immersive due to the fov and lack of sde.
Elite Dangerous- We started in the menu screen ship bay and then tried getting in the cockpit, but couldn’t really do much else other than physically moving around since they didn’t have a controller. Text was much more readable in this vs rift/vive and distant objects clearer. There were still some jaggies so I went into the steam settings to try to enable supersampling but the team member stopped me, saying supersampling wasn’t working yet.
Project Cars 2- Again, I couldn’t do much other than move around physically and I was able to go forward by pressing the up key on the keyboard but turning wasn’t mapped so didn’t get very far. Like elite, the cockpit text was noticeably better and looking through the windshield at distant objects was a lot better also, but still not perfect.
Onward - This one started glitching and had an out of memory error after a couple minutes but I did notice the improved distance views and clarity but also noticed the lack of brightness the most in this since it was supposed to be a bright desert daytime scene but it looked a bit washed out and dim. Again, they claimed the brightness will be adjustable but I wasn’t able to test it.
Eleven table tennis - The lead developer was at the demo with me and he was testing a build out to see if he would have to change anything to support the pimax. It looked good and clear; there were a couple issues but he said that was because he was running a build that wasn’t through steam because pimax didn’t have it preloaded on their computer so he had to load a light build off a usb drive.
Let me know if you have any specific questions about anything I missed, and apologies if there’s any grammatical errors or typos, I wrote this on my phone waiting for the plane to take off. Overall, I’m still keeping my kickstarter pledge because of the benefits of the higher resolution, sde, and fov, but there are definitely some concerns that need to be addressed. I have doubts that everything will be solved by January when they’re planning to ship the units but they seem to be working hard and are knowledgeable about the issues. They are also very eager to listen to feedback and monitor the forums to see what people’s priorities are so make sure you vocalize your top concerns so they’ll prioritize solving those first.