Pimax Crystal: we were able to test the high-end hybrid headset from Pimax and we were disappointed…

“To go where no one has gone before” is the motto of Pimax. But if no one has been there yet, it may be for a good reason. And the latter, you will discover it! After telling you the Pimax Portal (hybrid console VR), we give you here the complete tour of the Pimax Crystala hybrid headset (standalone/PC VR) top of the line.

The firm’s new headphones may surprise you, in both good and bad senses. Starting with its price, no less than €2,000 (various taxes included) will be required to obtain the helmet. This was also available for testing during the Pimax Tower which was held in Berlin (and which will end in THESE of Las Vegas). It was on this occasion that we were able to get a full feedback (thanks to Ricardo for making the trip) and he is far from complimentaryshowing that the firm has still not filled its gaps.

A neat and convincing hardware part, but a software part that is clearly not at the same level, here is the main flaw of the Chinese company.

On the show which was held in Berlin, we had an informant, Ricardo (flight instructor), who was able to test the two machines (Pimax Portal and Crystal). The part VR of the Pimax Portal could not be tested (due to bugs) and the game Project CARS 2 never could start on the Pimax Crystal, a very bad sign, especially since the headset is due out next month ! This bad experience has also led many people (including us) to cancel their pre-orders.

But what can cause this disappointment? The technical characteristics are however at first glance supposed to amaze us and encourage the act of purchase:

But only at first glance you will quickly understand through our analysis what is really wrong in the very design of this “top-of-the-range” helmet.

Optical Breakthrough AdvancedDisplay

Where the helmet impresses is as much for the technology of the panels as the monster definition of the latter. Like the PSVR 2 and its OLED screen, those that will equip this Pimax Crystal will be in QLED + Mini LED and HDR, alas and possibly with Fresnel lenses. Say hello to deep blacks and shimmering colors.

As for the definition, it is a record since it is neither more nor less than 5760×2880 pixels. If you want to play Half Life: Alyx to this definition, your GTX970 will not be enough! Joking aside, we’re both impressed and appalled considering how much PC power you’ll need to properly view the whole thing.

the FOV is a little bigger than the competition, but that’s hardly surprising, the company having partly built its reputation on this criterion alone. Without equaling those of a Pimax 4K, 8K even 12Kthis one goes a little further than the competition by offering to get the 120° to 140° from FOVand this according to the lenses you will use (like the Pimax Portala set of 2 lenses is included).

L’IPD is adjusted, like the Meta Quest Pro, automatically (thanks theEye Tracking). Unfortunately, this one does not start with 56 mm, as was the case with the Quest 1 in its day, but starts at 57 mm. On the contrary, the Pimax Crystal allows itself to go further on the last notch, positioning it up to 71 mm (against 68 mm on Meta Quest 2).

the PDD (pixel density per degree) ranges from 35 to 42 degrees depending on the set of lenses used. For comparison, the Meta Quest 2 is at 20.5 degrees, which immediately puts the Pimax Crystal in the category of headsets with a great image finessebeside the Varjo Aero and Pimax 12k.

Last, but not least: the display frequency, ranging from 144 Hz to 160 Hz. We are appalled by this choice! Although said frequencies should have a real influence on motion sickness, they should also greatly impact the performance of the headset, whether standalone or in PCVR. We have already understood this in the past, Meta Quest content developers have long prided themselves on being able to offer games at 120 Hzpresenting this as a revolution. But what the general public doesn’t know is that developers have to lower the resolution or cut back heavily on battery life to achieve this. And even if they wouldn’t need to crop, isn’t it better to have better graphics that are directly perceptible than a fluidity that is mostly not?

Omni All in One

the CPU (Snapdragon XR 2 Gen 1) is exactly the same as on Meta Quest 2, and this is rather worrying, given the definition of the device. On the consumer helmet of Metathe latest games recently released are already below the basic definition (1440×1584 pixels), which is itself below the total definition of the 2 screens (3664×1920 pixels). It’s appalling…

The headset’s standalone apps and games will likely be simplistic experiences as possibleand if they are ports of already existing games, aliasing and blurring may become your best allies. The RAM is 12 GB, a relevant choice on applications dedicated to productivity, because it really takes advantage of the definition of the headphones without being energy-consuming for the CPU; video game side (standalone / PCVR), it is simply useless. Storage meets industry standards, Pimax offering 2 versions: 128 and 256 GB.

You would have understood it, the choice of CPU is not the wisest for the autonomousunless the latter is only intended for series/movie viewing applications or is related to productivity. As for the PCVR, the use of the CPU is much more convincing, in particular for the decoding of the flow which your PC will send to you. The latter must, we will never repeat it enough, be powerful enough to support the definition of the helmet.

Stand-alone Mode

The controllers have a removable 6000 mAh battery that can be removed and replaced while playing. If you have several and you like wireless, you can never be completely cut off from your long gaming session, a very good point! No information on the duration of said batteriesbut we can assure you that given the characteristics of the helmet, it will not be able to match that of the Meta Quest 2.

We have two speakers on each side of the helmet allowing us to enjoy our sessions without wearing earphoness. And for those who preferred this option, a take jack 3.5 is plannedas in most other helmets (except pic 4). Side Bluetoothwe are in 5.1 and not 5.2which is surprising considering that Pimax usually likes to puff out his chest by always offering more or always better. On the wireless side, however, we have Wifi6e, which will give you a better PCVR experience (and all the more relevant in view of the significant resources required).

Big surprise, it will be possible to insert a SIM card module into the helmet allowing you to obtain 4G or 5G or even 6G, which would give, in the very long term, and if your PC has a fiber connection, the possibility to play anywhere!

In terms of accessories or other modules, you can of course install a key on your PC WiGid allowing you to considerably improve your Wifi, you will be able to replace your covers, and implement all modules ending in “ing” : Face Tracking, Body Tracking, Hand Tracking. L’Eye Tracking as for him is directly integrated into the helmet and it is very reassuring! Given the resources required, this device could greatly reduce them, in particular by taking advantage of the foveal rendering, which allows you to display in high definition only the place where your eyes are looking (thus taking advantage of putting the rest in low definition). It remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient, the weak point of Pimax being the part software.

What to conclude? Good ideas drive out bad ones and vice versa, starting with the definition of the headset, far too demanding for our PC Gamers. What is the point of approaching our headsets to 8k if our RTX 3090 Ti cannot even, on certain titles and at low definition, put everything in ultra?
Why did you decide to integrate a 2-year-old chip into it while increasing the definition and multiplying the systems of Tracking ?

We really feel like we’re following the Chinese tablet hype of the 2010s. As a reminder, said tablets had the promise of being much cheaper than tablets sold in supermarkets while being performance monsters. Except, you guessed it, such power meant that your battery lasted between 15 and 30 minutes, rendering the item unusable. To this were added many bugs and snags on Android ROMS and therefore, you will have understood, on the party Software.

The devices had no follow-up or update, they were made not to be used, but to be sold, with spectacular benchmarks.

Pimax seems to us to take this path, specificities hardware incredible (strongly pressed on the screen side) but a software and a battery (surely) to pick it up. 6000mAh is not information in itself, what is, is to know its lifespan on a well-defined product, in other words, put a 6000 mAh battery on a Nokia 3310 and on a high-end VR headset and you won’t get the same result.

Where the Pimax Portal had real assets and a real proposition, the Pimax Crystal is therefore content to be a Lamborghini with a 4L engine or the well-decorated facade of a shabby apartment.

So yes, when tested, this headset could surprise us, but it could much more easily disappoint us than excite us, first by its technical characteristics, which are quite wobbly and unbalanced, and above all because the feedback is generally poor. .

The test of Pimax Crystal by Ricardo showed it to us, by testing flight simulator, the cockpit looked crisp and the exterior blurry. But that’s not surprising! The game in flat 4K, with an RTX 3090 Ti and a Ryzen 9 5950x struggles to keep the 50 FPS in ultra, so asking it to display everything in VR, moreover, on a panel approaching 8K, is impossible. Concessions had to be made, especially on the definition!

When we cut corners on definition, if we stick our noses up at nearby objects, or stand in cramped quarters, the difference is not immediately apparent. On the other hand, when it comes to visiting the outside world, everything seems blurry and aliased.

Are you ready to slam €2000 for an aliased and not clean rendering? Let us know in the comments.

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