It looks like a lot of people are hungry for Pimax’s 8K VR headset.
We first heard about this new device, which is said to support Valve’s SteamVR platform, ahead of the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in January and subsequently went hands-on with it. We found that some major improvements needed to be made before it was ready for primetime. Pimax launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for the headset, with an initial goal of $200,000. At the time of writing, the campaign has more than tripled that goal.
Pimax’s solution promises two 4K panels with a field of view (FOV) of 200 degrees, 90Hz refresh rate and less than 15ms of screen latency. The device is also modular, designed so that you can add in optional extras like a hand tracking module or a scent device. When we first tried it the kit had no positional tracking, but now it is said to be capable of room-scale VR with two base stations. Pimax even says the headset can work with just one of the SteamVR base stations for a 360 degree, positionally track experience, though controller occlusion is likely to be an issue.
Ultimately the campaign is promising a lot and it is very difficult for companies to deliver hardware-based Kickstarters — even Oculus delivered later than expected. It’s important to note also that simply increasing panel resolution doesn’t necessarily mean a superior VR experience; plenty of optimization is still required to get the most out of displays. That said, while I haven’t tried the 8K headset, I did see its older 4K alternative that delivers 2K to each eye back at CES. I thought the screen image was incredibly clear.
Many of the Early Bird options with cheaper prices are already gone, but there still several options available. Those that already have the Vive’s base stations and controllers can pledge $499 to get the headset itself. For $699 there’s the 8K X, designed for next-generation GPUs and offering promising 90Hz without the internal scaler used inside of the base headset. Then at $799 there’s the full package including two controllers and two base stations for full room scale VR. Pimax is also offering a cheaper headset with a 5K resolution that you can get starting at $349. Other than the lower resolution it boasts the same features.
Shipments of the headset itself are expected to begin in January, though the full bundle of headset, controllers and base stations aren’t slated to go out till the following month.