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Pimax 8kX VR

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As VR is getting more and more popular for flight sims, I just thought to write down some of my experience and impressions with the new Pimax 8kX headset if anyone considers to purchase or preorder one.

VR is now technically on the edge of fullfilling its expectations for the user, in particular: the visual quality of high resolution headsets provides an image quality in VR very close to a regular monitor.

Before I got the 8kX, I had the Pimax 5k+, Samsung Odyssey ( and the Odyssey+ ) and before a HTC Vive. In terms of resolution the 8kX surely is the next step up and it does provide a lot more details in DCS. The cockpits in DCS became very rich in details, just like used to get on a monitor. Readability of the panels is much better ( not perfect and depending on how the headset is setup ) and especially the landscapes and depth of the world in DCS now looks fantastic in VR. Spotting is now no longer a disadvantage in VR. The resolution definitely is convincing!

So, the high display resolution of 3840 x 2160 per eye and the huge field of view are the selling points of the Pimax 8kX.

First thing, what becomes an issue, is finding the sweetspot ( the sharpest area in the field of view ). The sweetspot of the Pimax 5k+ is huge and you don´t have to adjust the headset to instantly be in this sweetspot, when putting on the headset.

In the 8kX the displays are much smaller, than in the 5k+, but both frames are the same. I think it was a bad decision to replace the bigger displays with smaller displays while keeping the same housing and lenses. In addition to this, the new face mask ( they call it comfort kit ) of the 8kX puts the headset a bit more away from the eyes, which results in an even smaller sweetspot on the lenses for the eye.

Pimax reacted to this issue by replacing a thicker face foam with a thinner face foam to get the eyes closer to the lenses, but its not enough to reach a sweetspot like the 5k+ or other VR headsets, like Valves Index.

I had to replace the face mask of the 8kX with the one of my old 5k+ to get closer to the lenses and not be forced to fiddle around every time I put on the headset, to find the sweetspot.

At this point a positive effect falls into place: I need to wear glasses, because of being shortsighted. With the modified 8kX with 5k+ face-cover there is not really space for glasses, but due to the circumstance of modding the headset, now the visual focus of the eyes had come into the area, where I don´t need glasses. In VR the visual focus of the eyes is around 0,80 m to 1,50 m I would assume.

But that´s not enough about the sweetspot. It also depends on IPD ( inter pupil distance ) settings.
My IPD is 63,5 mm, but as the P8kX uses smaller displays, while keeping the lenses for bigger displays they used before, the physical IPD dialer, which moves the lenses, need to be pushed down to the physical limit of IPD 60 in the headset´s frame. Then by software IPD adjustment, the individual IPD setting ( -5 to +5 ) need to be found to get into the sweetspot.

Everything outside the sweetspot is blurry!

Now another issue appears:

As the lenses are now dialed down by physical IPD setting, they got physically such close together, that the nose gap between the lenses is nearly  gone and the plastic frame of the lenses now pushes hardly directly on to the nose, or let´s say: my big nose. So far I´ve handcrafted kind of soft pad out of a corona face mask and some soft material, to make the 8kX wearable on the nose.

Now the sweetspot issue is solved and I always got instantly a sharp high resolution image, when putting on the P8kX.

One word to the integrated headphones in the Pimax 8kX ( they call it modular audio strap 😞 crap.

Totally crap! The cheapest headphones, I´ve ever heard. Needed to replace the head strap with the Vive Deluxe Audio strap.

Another issue, which now goes viral in the Pimax forums is ´Mura´. This is like a thin dirty looking shadow over the entire view. Mostly visible in bright, white areas. This effect appears, when focussing the lenses instead of the image behind. Mostly it is not noticable while concentrating on the image and what happens there, but when looking into a bright sky in DCS or looking down on a shiny desert landscape, the effect becomes apparent. Other headsets got this too, more or less.
It´s annoying, when you see it, but does not make the headset unusable.

Regarding the demand for performance, the 8kX is pretty good usable for me in DCS, as I don´t measure the fun I got in the simulation with an FPS counter.

What´s not so good is, that the native resolution of the P8kX is 3840 x 2160, but the rendered images @100% SteamVR SS setting is a lot more, because the wide FOV needs more pixels to compensate the distortion in the peripheral view. A regular headset with approx 110° not canted displays don´t need this extra rendered pixels, which is a waste in performance the system needs to provide. Going under 100% SS SteamVR the image looses quality and shimmering of far distant objects become visual.

Anyway the headset needs a quite powerful PC, that´s for sure, but with that, the performance in DCS is ok, at least for me.

A nice thing is the new Pimax Experience Software. This tool or overlay program really makes configuring the headset more easy. The software got some nice feature, which makes life with any Pimax headset more easy.

Finally I have to say, that I do enjoy the high resolution and highly detailed images of the P8kX.
Also the wide FOV is very enjoyable, especially in the flight sim. But this headset got issues, like the Mura effect or the focus/sweetspot, which other older headsets got as well. It also got some design downsides, as other headsets got as well. Also need to be mentioned, that it is quite expensive, but provides beside the high resolution image and wide FOV only poor quality. To be honest, I would not buy the Pimax 8kX headset again, because the overall quality appears too poor at this price tag and sooner or later other companies will bring up headsets with comparable specifications to the P8kX´s resolution and FOV.

 

 

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Great write up. Current Valve Index user and former HTC Vive Pro user.  Its been a year since I used the Vive Pro don't recall what I didn't like about it but the Vive was a step up. I do recall the sweet spot being terrible in the Vive Pro. The Index is better but lets face it I want even better.

For the most part when I put on my head set its lined up to the sweet spot. Sometimes its a little too high or low on my nose.  I also noticed if its not flush to the face it can look odd at times. An example of not being flush is tight on my forehead but not tight by the nose and cheeks. This causes the lower half of the lenses being tilted away from me.

I also wish that games would offer a screen for testing to make sure your headset was adjusted properly. Something as simple the word test repeated on the screen so you can make sure your headset is on properly before you fly a sortie. 

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The Valve Index must be the so far best overall engineered headset. Valve invented a new lens technology ( there are actually two lenses per eye in the Index ) which provide a sweetspot nearly over the whole visible image. The downside of the Index is its resolution of 1440 x 1600, which was at the time of the release of the Index already outdated by the HP Reverb and Pimax 5k+.  Very unfortunate for Valve as the development in VR headsets is going on very fast. The Vive Pro got the same resolution as the Valve Index, but without any new lens technology. The HTC headsets always got a small sweetspot, even their newest one, the Vive Cosmos with a resolution of 1440 x 1700 still got this small sweetspot.

The above report of the new Pimax 8kX is more an initial impression, than a review. I´ve received the P8kX only a few days ago. But it should get an impression, what to expect. Most people don´t like to fiddle around too much to make a VR headset work as intended, but the Pimax headsets do need a lot of adjustment to fit individually.  
The new Pimax Experience tool is great but at the moment a work in progress and still in beta state. There is already an option integrated for a virtual IPD setting test and setup, but the function is not available at the moment and will be implemented later. Also the Pimax software provide an option to adjust the image vertically, which is good and als needed. Especially when swithcing from the original headstrap to the HTC Delux Audio Strap the vertical image, respectively the point of view to the image on the vertical line, need to be adjusted.

So, on the bottom line, the Pimax 8kX is not a out-of-the-box VR experience, but man, once adjusted, the image quality is so far the best I´ve ever seen in VR. So far means, until the HP Reverb G2 arrives in a few weeks :).  I´ve preorderd the Reverb G2 to have some relaxing flight sessions and tp enjoy the beauty of places in our world in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and am quite excited about a comparison between the G2 and the P8kX. I would expect of the Reverb G2 a much better engineered headset and easy out-of-the-box experience, but with the downside of a small FOV about 114°.

I would say, that we´re getting there in terms of development of a really good VR headset with properly engineered lens technology, high resolution displays and wide field of view. Currently there are trade offs with every headset, but there´s a massive increase in quality in every manner, but still not all together in one headset at a reasonable price tag.

Coming back to the P8kX, I could imagine to like the headset more after some long time usage. The initial setup really is a pain in the ... with the P8kX and a result of bad engineering.
Can´t emphasize less the visual quality of the 8kX: Yesterday reinstalled the Spitfire in DCS and took a flight over Normandy and it was inside and outside the cockpit a perfect view all the time... so much enjoyable after some years of using VR.
Regarding the sometimes appearing Mura effect, I´ll try to reduce this effect next by adjusting brightness and contrast. The Mura effect could not totally eliminated by software adjustment as it is a result of display technology and appears, when there is too much heat on the displays, but maybe it could be reduced a bit.   

 

  

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Just some additional thoughts on the Pimax 8kX after some more VR sessions with it: I´m going to sell the P8KX immediately after received the Reverb G2. 
Didn´t expected the 8KX to have this bad optics after long time using the Pimax 5k+. Surely the wide FOV is great to have, but Pimax did a bad job developing this one piece.

My conclusion is, that developing the 5K+ and the other ones of this series included the development of new wide FOV lenses. In this development they had a display with same dimensions but different resolutions for the series before 8KX and worked on the lenses for it to create this outstanding FOV. For the Pimax 8kX they simply replaced the displays from before with high resolution displays, but with different characteristics and kept the housing and lenses as before. This results in a much smaller sweetspot in the 8kX , what makes the flaws in design apparent all the time. These flaws a mainly a bad convergence between the line of sight through the lenses on to the displays. Whith the original design like in the Pimax 5k+ this flaw could have been covered by the bigger sweetspot, which allows different angles and IPD settings to get a sharp and converged image all the time, but the 8KX´ design doesn´t allow any more space to cover the issues.

It´s very exhausting for the eyes to deal with the optics of the 8KX as a constant concentration and force to the eyeballs are needed to focus on a point with both eyes simultaneously.
God knows I´ve tried to make this piece work convenient. I´m not so much taking care of comfort or headphones, as I could manage to make these things fit for me, but there´s not much anyone can do to balance the issues of the optics of the headset. The wide FOV and high resolution work fantastic on a first glance, but the lack in quality due to engineering the Pimax 8kX become very apparent and annoying after a time of using it.  

 

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