At MXT we want to make sure that we’re working at the leading edge of immersive technologies. Virtual Reality is progressing at an incredible rate and one of the key leaps is an expanded Field Of View (FOV) in the headsets themselves. One of the earliest to make the jump is the Chinese firm Pimax. Courtesy of Pimax UK distributors the VR center, The Pimax 5K business edition and OLED version were at the MXT London office ahead of their public release. Here are our thoughts:

The increased FOV compared to generation one competitors is where the Pimax was designed to stand out. Available in three modes with 170, 150, and 120 degrees (horizontal) FOV it represents a step-change over and above the HTC VIVE Pro, on even the narrowest of settings. The effect of this is immediate and pronounced. Models are instantly more immersive, providing an increased sense of presence and an experience that is considerably more natural. Articulating the effect peripheral vision has on the experience is tricky but putting the VIVE Pro back on immediately afterward came with the sensation they came with complimentary blinkers. The expanded FOV isn’t something that you’re aware you’re missing until you have it.

We tested the Pimax on a GTX 1080 card, with resolution at 1:1 pixel mapping, clarity was good, the sweet spot was big – no matter where you placed it the image was sharp and focussed. We did not test the refresh rate, but it felt good. Colors were bright and vivid, and in the OLED variety (as you would expect) colors were rich with inky blacks; Stargazing models should be mandatory for all Pimax users.

Overall picture quality was better than the HTC VIVE Pro, not massively but better all the same. The “Screen Door” effect, too, was comparatively less pronounced, but distortion at the periphery is noticeable.

We’re sure the Pitools software that accompanies the headset will improve over time, but for now it is buggy. We were using HTC Vive Pro controllers and lighthouses but they frequently lost connection. Internally, we would happily tolerate this for the expanded FOV. For our clients, though, consistency and reliability is paramount.

The headset performs better than the HTC VIVE Pro in nearly every category visually, but it doesn’t quite live up to the marketing. The Pimax 8K doesn’t have an 8K resolution just because two 4K panels are side by side, it certainly doesn’t when you consider it take a 1440p input and upscales the image. The vaunted 200-degree FOV is only that when measured diagonally, when measured traditionally it’s 170. This may be annoyance at best for ‘prosumers’ but for Government and Large Enterprise, it is a legitimate road block to adoption.

Pimax is ahead of its time in many ways, expanded FOV will be important to future generation headsets and for developers. However, at MXT we sell immersive technology solutions as a service; although we research and develop at the leading edge, this is so that our clients benefit from the very latest reliable, consistent, delivery packages and Pimax isn’t there yet, beautiful though it is. We’ll be back.