Pimax 8K VR Headset Delayed Again, Refresh Rate Drops To 80Hz

by VentureBeat • April 27th, 2018

Several months after delaying “the world’s first 8K VR headset,” developer Pimax has revealed that its Pimax 8K has been postponed again — and apparently downgraded in performance, as well. Not surprisingly, the company’s Kickstarter backers aren’t thrilled by the news, which suggests that the headset will now arrive significantly after its originally promised delivery date.

Pimax made headlines by announcing its atypically wide-bodied VR headset with full “8K” capabilities, the product of allocating full 4K displays for both the left and right eyes. Originally set to be shipped in January 2018, the SteamVR-compatible headset promises a 200-degree field of view, laser tracking, integrated headphones, eye tracking, and a customized prescription lens frame. While the entire collection of features is ambitious for an affordable headset, 8K support is particularly challenging due to the extreme computing and display updating demands of such a high-resolution screen.

Unfortunately, the product has remained in prototyping stages due in part to claimed issues with its lenses. While the company has offered to seed 10 pre-production “M1” prototypes to Kickstarter backers for “closed beta” testing, shipment of the M1s has been pushed back due to multiple lens system redesigns. As the end of April draws near, the company hasn’t yet received its latest retooled lenses, but it currently expects to be able to start the closed beta process in May.

Beyond the lenses, Pimax 8K faces another major issue: a lower than expected refresh rate. Pimax initially said it would offer “8K X” and “8K” versions, the former with a 90Hz rate for next-generation GPUs and the latter with an approximately 85Hz refresh rate. But the company has apparently struggled with getting the lower-end headset to perform reliably and is now targeting an 80Hz refresh rate, lower than the 90Hz refresh rates of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR. Consequently, Pimax has said that “the purpose of the M1 closed beta is to learn from testers whether the M1 is good enough to ship.”

Backers of the Kickstarter campaign have expressed concern. “This doesn’t sound like you are satisfied with the product,” said one, while another threatened legal action or a chargeback: “I want to take my money because you are totally lost.”

Hopefully, Pimax will be able to work the kinks out quickly and get units out to its backers — broader retail availability depends on it. The company has pledged not to “consider retail until we have fulfilled all the Kickstarter packages,” but it has not provided an anticipated fulfillment date — just its plan to begin the 10-person closed beta in May.

This post by Jeremy Horwitz originally appeared on VentureBeat.

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  • Ethan James Trombley

    I don’t feel like this article accurately reflects the main views within the community. If you follow the main reddit threads the majority of us backers are of the belief that delaying the Pimax to refine it is permissible.

    • Duane Locsin

      There is a saying from a famous Nintendo creator “a late/delayed game/product can be great, a rushed game/product is bad forever”

    • sebrk

      The Kübler-Ross model suggest that you are still in the denial phase.

      • Rogue Transfer

        Don’t be childish.

  • fuyou2

    Uploadvr wtf, Finally an article not about Skyrim..Shitty article at that.

  • am I the only one thinking 80hz is a god way to lower power request without compromising to much the experience? My old DK2 worked fine at 75Hz

    Solid 80Hz is better than reprojection, and 2 x 2K input is hard to drive

    • impurekind

      Sure, but you really need to get as high a refresh rate as possible in VR. I’d even put that above resolution for now to be honest.

  • Nosfar

    As a kickstarter backer of the 8k i encourge them to take their time,focus on the details get it right. And then release it. SO THEY CAN DESTROY “HTC VIVE” IN RETALIATION FOR THE PRO HAHAHAHAH.and ill know my dollars helped make that happen.

    • koenshaku

      That thing will be ghosting so much you will think you have a sixth sense lol. You should have known better the next update will probably be something else further compromising the product.

      • Rogue Transfer

        You really need to look up some video previews of people trying out the Pimax 8K at trade shows before commenting. There’s been many detailed hands-on telling how good the displays are and they don’t have ghosting. The prototypes have had other issues, some since fixed, some yet to be checked independently next month, but ghosting isn’t an issue.

        When you comment & make false claims on something you don’t know about, it just makes you seem foolish and uninformed.

        The important thing about the Pimax 8K is that, if it does manage to push the envelope, it will shake up all other VR manufacturers’ specs for their future devices and everyone will benefit. This isn’t about just Pimax, but improves the whole consumer industry.

  • polysix

    lol

  • PJ

    Hahaha after buying the peice of [email protected] that was the Pimax 4k, Im not surprised in the slightest.

  • nargorn

    Better 80Hz than 90Hz with Reprojection. And better 200° FOV than 110°. And so on…Take your time Pimax, i will be happy to sell my overpriced Vive Pro HMD and receive your HMD AND Valve 2.0 Trackers AND Controllers for the price of the Vive Pro, if Pimax is as good as promised…!

  • MarquisDeSang

    So no one is asking how an doubling the FOV horizontally and vertically plus the 4 times the number of pixels can even work on modern computers? To render the same VR game you would need 4 times more power just for the FOV increase and 4 times more power to render the extra pixels. If you walk into a forest in Skyrim VR 4 times FOV would mean 4 times more scenery to render at 4 times the resolution. Does that require 16x more powerful computer? Is the 200 FOV truly rendered with multiple camera per eyes because one virtual camera cannot render at more than 90 degrees at once (this is part of the math of rendering in scanline and not raytracing). So do they use 4 camera rendering pass per eye to get the proper perspective or do they cheat by rendering at 90 and stretching the image on the peripheral? Maybe this is why they are only showing fruit ninja (a mobile VR game) running on their headset. Do they have the proper software to compensate for the little quirks of LCD. Even OLED in the modern HMD have software compensation. Hardware is only half of the problem, software is everything. Maybe they have done it correctly, but they are hiding a lot for a company that has nothing to hide.

    • Shawn MacDonell

      IIRC SteamVR stretches the image on your periphery, rather than render the fully-available FOV. Developers can implement specific Pimax 8K support to render the full FOV rather than stretching, but this is required to be implemented by the developer.

      The Pimax 8K also renders in 1440p rather than the full 4K of its two display panels and upscales the image to 4K, only the Pimax 8K X which uses double display port cables (IIRC, if that’s incorrect someone could correct me on this) which renders both panels at native 4K.

      • koenshaku

        So what you are saying is that it is basically a super sampled WMR or Vive pro device, but with the ability to be higher resolution that will not be used until next generation graphics cards? With 80hz you are likely going to see the lag when you turn your head quickly seems like a headache device in the making.

        • Rogue Transfer

          You should also learn about Pimax 8K’s ‘brainwarp’ feature that staggers each eye’s update to effectively present double the refresh rate to 160Hz. Similar to how 3D shutter glasses work, but at nearly triple the refresh rate of 60Hz CRT TVs.

          We’ll need to wait to learn what long-term use is like. No point guessing, we’ll have plenty reports in a month or so from the ~10 selected, well-known backers getting M1 test devices.

          • mirak

            There was something similar to brain warp with 3d shutter on CRT monitor.
            The issue was it wasn’t tolerating any small lag, because since the next eye show t and the next eye t+1, displaying the same image twice for an eye, means you go back in time.
            And that’s awfull.

    • dk

      it’s two 1440p signals upscaled by the headset……so basically the pc is driving a winmr headset
      ……I’m not sure if the version with 2 4k signals has been figured out or demonstrated …but with that one they r most likely betting on future cards like gtx1180 or 1180ti and stuff like brain warp and space warp

      • Konchu

        Well it is still actually higher as MR is a almost Symmetrical resolution my samsung odyssey is 1400 x 1600 per eye where the pimax is 2560 x 1440(standard monitor ration)per eye. Quite a few more pixels there I don’t think this will be undo-able but it will be more taxing for sure.

        pretty sure they have demoed on 1070’s

        • dk

          yep correct …I ignored that
          I wonder how good is the peripheral vision…..how clear it is….it was stretched out at one point but they were correcting it
          I guess 80hz with 2 1440×2560 running on a 1080 or even 1070 is quite an achievement actually
          I guess a lot of similar headsets r coming especially after the next generation cards is out

          • Konchu

            They could have been relying on something like Asynchronous reprojection alot. And Saving 10fps can help some too I imagine.

    • Kev

      You can see more scenery. SteamVR render target is whatever the fov the headset reports. I tried it with The Blu and you could see almost to the extent of my vision on either side. It was sharper by far than my vive as well.

      • MarquisDeSang

        Everything is sharper than Vive. But if it is any good, I will buy the Pimax. I just feel that they are not as open and transparent as they should be. Their demos were mostly made with simple VR games.

    • Fwiler

      Not necessarily. You can send a 1080p video to a 4k tv and it looks better (imo) than to a similar 1080p tv. If they have the ability to upscale the image than it may be impressive without using more cpu/gpu.

  • impurekind

    I don’t understand the drop in refresh rate. How does anything in the headset relate to the processing power required to render at higher refresh rates/frame rates, and surely that’s up to the users to buy compatible PCs rather than gimp the headset specs somehow?

    • Johannes Bühler

      The step-down to 80hz has nothing to do with GPU power.

      The bridge chip they are using to upscale the 1440p per eye signal to 4K per eye simply didn’t deliver on the paper specs their supplier provided and can’t provide the neccessary bandwidth.

      • impurekind

        How disappointing.

  • Ted Joseph

    Take your time and get it right! Just not too much time or you will be competing with Oculus CV2, HTC VIVE Pro 2 etc… I would target a release date of early June 2018 at the latest…

    • Johannes Bühler

      June 2018 for public release is out of the question at this point.

      As a backer I would welcome the first fulfillments some time in Q3 2018 but realistically I’m set for somewhere in Q1 2019 which does get pretty damn close to HTC’s and Facebook’s CV2 announcements.

  • MarquisDeSang

    Pimax makes Vive Pro look good.

    • Smokey_the_Bear

      The Vive Pro is good, it’s the best VR headset money can buy…it’s only flaw is the price.

      • MarquisDeSang

        Except the Vive Pro microphone is so horrible, you cant use it in multiplayer without annoying everyone, the headphones sound is very poor and they use same old plastic lens as original Vive. The lens is the worst offender because Vive has the worst lens of all. Full of godrays. The lens is such a problem that people are already moding the pro by replacing the lens with the one from Gear VR. For the price of Vive Pro with base and 2.0 controller you can buy 3 Samsung Odyssey that are better in every way to the Vive pro.

        • Johannes Bühler

          Do you have both a Vive Pro as well as an Odyssey?

          Because I do and I couldn’t disagree more with your statement.

    • PJ

      The Vive Pro is good, very good.

      But the price is a joke

    • Kev

      Vive pro has zero improvements to the lens and same FOV as before at twice the price. Marginal improvement at best all things considered.

  • laast

    Another opportunistic KS c**p if you ask me. By the time this “thing” will be really available and reliable, real VR companies will release their 2nd gen headset, with solid and realistic features, optimized content and healthy ecosystem.

    Someone promising a reliable 8K VR headset in 2017 can’t be taken seriously, and just want to steal money to some enthusiasts folks.

    See ya in 2020, we’ll see where is Pimax by this time.

  • Konchu

    I felt the original date was too Aggressive. I would rather have a slight delay and a good product that a rushed POS. So I personally am not too worried….yet. I would say if there is at least a couple more months of good will left.