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Pimax 5K and 8K VR headset designs push consumer VR envelope

Pimax’s highly hyped ultra high-resolution virtual reality headsets have now hit Kickstarter. Slated to begin shipping around January 2018, there are options for versions of the high-end headset with claimed 5K and 8K resolutions, as well as a field of view as broad as 200 degrees. With prices starting at $350 and support for existing HTC Vive trackers, interest is already high.

As excellent as the first generation of consumer virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift were, it’s easy to see where they could be improved. While new wireless tracking and improved headstraps are great, most people are excited by the potential of higher resolution displays and improved field of view. Those are two key technological improvements that the Pimax headsets make in giant strides.

The resolution of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are both 1,080 x 1,200 pixels per eye, with a 110-degree field of view and a refresh rate of 90Hz. The Pimax 5K offers the same refresh rate, but ups the ante with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels per eye and a 200-degree field of view. And the Pimax 8K takes things a step further with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 per eye.

If you have existing HTC Vive Lighthouse trackers, you can use those for tracking the headset, though Pimax also offers its own laser trackers in the more expansive Kickstarter reward tiers.

With modular support for additional features like hand motion, wireless operation, and eye-tracking, the Pimax headsets appear to be covering just about every base possible. Reports from early testers are strong, with some suggesting that the higher resolution means an end to the screen-door effect, no visible sub-pixels, and an overall improved immersion produced by the bolstered visuals.

If you want to get yourself one of the world’s first consumer ultra high-resolution headsets, you can put down everything from $350 for an early bird Pimax 5K “Basic” headset, to as much as $1,000 for the limited edition “8K X Full Package,” which comes with base station sensors and controllers. The developers do warn though, that even the most powerful PCs may struggle to run anything at the native resolution. You’re almost guaranteed to find very few compatible experiences, too.

It’s also important to note that even the best laid plans can fall apart on Kickstarter. While there is every indication that the Pimax developers will follow through with their claims, we have seen many campaigns fall apart in the past, so go into this one with some caution.

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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