Pimax today opened up preorders for its upcoming wide field of view PC VR headsets.
The Pimax “5K Plus” can be preordered for $699, the Pimax “8K” is $799, and the OLED Pimax “5K BE” (Business Edition) is $999. Note these prices are for the headset only. While Pimax plans to offer its own controllers and base stations some time in 2019, the preorder and launch are just the headsets. Because the Pimax headsets use SteamVR “Lighthouse” tracking, current HTC Vive owners should be able to simply swap their current headset out and use their existing HTC base stations and controllers. Those who don’t already own a HTC Vive, however, would need to purchase a pair of controllers and base stations from HTC. That’s an added cost of around $530, bringing the total price of a Pimax “5K Plus” with headset and controllers to just over $1200.
Keep in mind, though, this total price will likely be significantly lower if or when Pimax offers its own complete set. Pimax is also offering an option to add Leap Motion finger-tracking for any of the three headsets for $169 extra, as well as bundles with the RTX 2080 line of NIVIDA graphics cards.
According to the company, preorders will begin shipping after all Kickstarter backer orders have been fulfilled and preorders will be shipped in order of when they were placed. Based on the monthly production schedule Pimax provided in June, this suggests preorders should start shipping no earlier than January. However, Pimax failed to meet shipping targets multiple times over the past year, so if you’re thinking about preordering we suggest keeping this in mind.
For those in the dark, Pimax is a Chinese company making VR headsets with significantly higher resolution and field of view than those on the market today. In 2017, the organization launched a Kickstarter for the ‘Pimax 8K’ and ‘Pimax 5K’ headsets, each boasting a field of view of 200 degrees, and total horizontal pixel counts of 8K and 5K respectively. The Kickstarter exceeded its goal and Pimax added stretch ones like a wireless add-on and eye tracking. Pimax also hasn’t clearly communicated the hardware specifications for its various headset efforts, and the company is apparently planning controllers which resemble the earlier designs for Valve’s Knuckles.
Originally Pimax claimed that they would begin shipping to backers in January of 2018, and that they would have custom controllers based of Valve’s “Knuckles” design. This target was missed and, as of October, Pimax have now begun shipping the first headsets to their backers. They plan to have all backer headsets shipped by the end of the year.
Last month, Pimax unveiled a 3rd headset in its lineup, the “5K Plus”. This headset uses high quality native 1440p LCD panels instead of the PenTile OLED of “5K”, or lower quality LCD of the “8K.” The “5K Plus” replaces the original “5K” in the lineup while the “5K BE” (Business Edition) was added as the option with OLED. The Pimax headsets have a significantly higher pixel count and field of view than current consumer VR headsets, and thus are significantly more expensive to run. Tom’s Hardware recently benchmarked the Pimax “5K Plus” and found that even an RTX 2080 could not hit full framerate in games like Space Pirate Trainer or Arizona Sunshine, even with the field of view and resolution reduced to save performance.
We should note developing and shipping a consumer product at scale is incredibly challenging. Most hardware Kickstarters completely fail, with the backers getting either a refund or nothing at all. It’s a risk, not a preorder. After multiple missed deadlines, Pimax is finally shipping what they first teased over a year ago. The challenge now is to keep the production rate high enough to fulfill all backer orders by Christmas, and next year, fulfilling these preorders.
Clarification: One sentence describing Pimax’ three models was updated after publication to clarify the naming of the OLED model.