Arms-on: Pimax Crystal Touts Spectacular Readability, However Suffers From a (doubtlessly fixable) Flaw

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At CES 2023 Pimax was displaying off its newest high-resolution headset, the Pimax Crystal, which makes use of new lenses and new shows for what the corporate says is its clearest wanting picture but. And whereas it’s positively an enchancment in lots of areas over the corporate’s headsets, there’s a key flaw that I hope the Pimax will be capable of deal with.

Pimax Crystal employs new lenses and guarantees to be rid of glare and god rays that had been obvious in prior Pimax headsets (and plenty of others) which used Fresnel lenses. That, together with high-resolution shows, purported HDR functionality, swappable lenses (to commerce field-of-view for pixel density), and as much as a 160Hz refresh price. For a full breakdown of the headset’s spec, see our announcement article.

At CES 2023 I received to see the headset myself for the primary time. Though the headset is technically able to operating in standalone mode, I noticed it operating as a PC VR headset with SteamVR Monitoring.

Pimax Crystal (pictured with out the SteamVR Monitoring faceplate) | Picture by Highway to VR

Naturally, the demo I used to be proven was operating Half-Life: Alyx—arguably VR’s finest wanting sport—to indicate off the element the headset can reproduce with its 2,880 × 2,880 (8.3MP) per-eye shows. From the fast hands-on I received with Pimax Crystal, I may see this was a giant step up in readability over the corporate’s prior headsets, particularly as regards to edge-to-edge readability. The visible fundamentals had been stable too when it comes to pupil swim, geometric distortion, and chromatic aberration. There was slightly mura seen on this headset however nothing egregious so far as I may inform.

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However there was one factor that instantly stood out to my eyes which in any other case foils a superb wanting picture: blur throughout head motion. Whereas the static picture seen by the headset appears to be like fairly sharp, as quickly as you begin shifting your head to look around the globe you’ll see a whole lot of blur—that’s an issue for VR contemplating that your head is very steadily in movement.

Picture by Highway to VR

My finest guess is that is being attributable to persistence blur; a show artifact that’s principally solved on different headsets and is thus not often seen anymore. Persistence blurring is is attributable to the show staying lit for too lengthy, such that as you flip your head the pixels stay lit even whereas their place turns into inaccurate (as a result of they’re ‘frozen’ in place every body, till the subsequent body comes alongside and updates the place to account to your head motion). Most headsets make use of a type of ‘low-persistence’ which counteracts this problem by illuminating the show for less than a fraction of the time between frames, such that as you progress your head the pixels aren’t ‘frozen’ in place, however are literally unlit, leaving your mind to fill within the gaps with out seeing the pixels blur between frames.

The quantity of blur I noticed by Pimax Crystal I’d say notably compromises what’s in any other case an impressively clear picture, although there’s an opportunity that Pimax may repair this problem, relying upon precisely what’s inflicting it.

For one, it’s attainable that the headsets being proven at CES 2023 had been nonetheless not absolutely tuned and that low-persistence hasn’t been correctly tuned (or perhaps isn’t even enabled but). In that case it could be a matter of ultimate tweaks earlier than they get the proper show conduct which may cut back persistence blur.

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One other issue may very well be the headset’s ‘HDR’ functionality. Whereas I don’t imagine Pimax has shared any info on peak brightness, it’s attainable that the show can’t do each low-persistence and HDR brightness on the identical time (certainly it is a problem as a result of HDR wants excessive brightness whereas low-persistence wants pixels to be illuminated just for a minimal period of time).

Curiously, I additionally observed what seemed to be persistence blurring on pre-release variations of PSVR 2… which additionally purports to have an HDR show. For each PSVR 2 and Pimax Crystal, I’m hoping we’ll see enhancements by the point the completed headsets are headed to clients.

And nonetheless there’s different potentialities—this won’t be persistence blur in any respect, however merely gradual pixel switching time inflicting some type of ghosting, which may very well be an inherent limitation of the show or perhaps one thing that may very well be tweaked.

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In the end I’m fairly impressed with the readability and broad field-of-view of the Pimax Crystal, however the blur I’ve seen throughout head motion compromises the picture in my ebook. My intestine says that is in all probability a persistence blurring problem, although it may very well be one thing else. We’ll have to attend to see what Pimax says about this and in the event that they’re capable of make enhancements by the point Crystal ships.

Picture by Highway to VR

Talking about Crystal transport; the headset was initially deliberate for launch in Q3 of 2022, however that date has slipped. Though the corporate hosted a ‘Pimax Crystal Launch Occasion‘ again in November, at CES 2023 Pimax mentioned the primary headsets will begin being delivered on the finish of this month, although the corporate additionally signifies that it gained’t attain full manufacturing capability till the center of the yr. Even when the primary items do begin transport, key equipment and options, just like the headset’s standalone mode—which makes up about half of its worth proposition—aren’t anticipated to be out there till unspecified factors sooner or later.

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