So far as VR gaming is worried, there are two distinct paths a VR headset can take. One is to go reasonably priced and light-weight—compromising high-end visuals for accessibility and decrease price—and the opposite is to cram each function you’ll be able to think about, and value be damned. At $1,600, guess which camp the Pimax Crystal falls into.

On paper, the Pimax Crystal was presupposed to be the final word gaming VR headset, promising to rival the Meta Quest Professional in efficiency and even problem the unreleased Apple Imaginative and prescient Professional with its spectacular glass lenses and 8K decision. Nevertheless, in actuality, it is turned out to be really disappointing. Utilizing the darn factor requires a number of effort and an entire lot of endurance.

As somebody who not too long ago embraced VR, one in every of my greatest gripes has been the dearth of visible constancy and efficiency in comparison with PC gaming. Attempting out the Pimax Crystal made me notice highly effective visuals and efficiency are nice, however you are left with a frustratingly dangerous (and really costly) person expertise with out key performance. Very like the HTC Vive XR Elite, one other high-end wi-fi VR headset, the Pimax is buying and selling in operate and value for uncooked energy.

Earlier than I delve into the in depth checklist of points I encountered with the Crystal, some optimistic elements are price mentioning. Beginning with the show, the glass aspheric lens with 35 pixels per diploma (PPD) peak constancy ensures the image and on-screen textual content are exceptionally clear. Pimax even supplied a Crystal with plastic lenses for comparability, and the distinction is placing. All VR headsets ought to undertake glass lenses going ahead, because the expertise is akin to wanting by means of precise glasses moderately than some plastic lab goggles.

Pimax Crystal specs

VR headset on a table.

(Picture credit score: Future)

Monitoring: 4 DoF inside-out
Lens tech: Glass aspheric lenses QLED + Mini-Led Show
Decision: 5760 x 2880 (2880p per eye)
Refresh Fee: 90-120Hz (144-160Hz in beta)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon XR, Pimax’s Personalized PC VR Engine Twin-processor chip
FOV: 125°
IPD: 58–72mm
Audio: triple mics, off-ear audio system
Inputs: USB Kind-C 3.2 Gen-1
Battery life: 2 swappable 6000mAh + 120mAh inner (for hotswap) | 2hr 40 min precise gaming
Weight: 960g (with battery)
Worth: $1599

The picture high quality is unimaginable. When it is working, the Pimax Crystal makes virtually each VR game I attempt look unimaginable. The marginally wider FOV provides so much to the immersion of a game, particularly video games with a cockpit, comparable to No Mans’s Sky. I noticed extra in my peripheral imaginative and prescient in game situations where I would normally have to show my head. It could not sound like a lot, but it surely does wonders for immersion. 

When it comes to consolation, the headset is accommodating sufficient for customers who put on glasses, and the scarf has a dial to attain the proper match. Nevertheless, it is price noting the headset does lean on the heavier facet, weighing 960 grams. Whereas the glass lenses are heavier than plastic ones, it is the swappable 6000mAh battery including further weight.

The Crystal comes with two batteries which lasted me somewhat below 3 hours of gameplay, however after about 90 minutes of taking part in round in No Man’s Sky, I wanted a break to stretch this outdated neck of mine. It appears 90 minutes is my threshold for VR gaming earlier than I begin feeling unusual, so 3 hours wi-fi life is sweet sufficient for me.

The new swap function I used to be most enthusiastic about. It permits you to rapidly change batteries with out turning off the headset. It does this by having one other tiny 120mAh battery inside that kicks in everytime you’re able to swap. Consider it like having a battery backup, giving a few minutes for the change. It is neat although it does take a little bit of elbow grease to tug the battery out of the slot behind the headset. 

The setup course of proves to be fairly cumbersome, nonetheless, and moderately draining. It relied on the Pixmax app for many of the headset customization, however I needed to put it on and use the Pimax VR expertise app inside for extra in-depth changes.

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VR headset on a table.

(Picture credit score: Future)
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VR headset on a table.

(Picture credit score: Future)
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VR headset on a table.

(Picture credit score: Future)

As a result of wonky monitoring, actions, and imprecise controls, it would not really feel as easy and exact as one thing just like the Quest 2.

The calibration course of merely entails putting the Crystal on the ground in the midst of the potential play space. Nonetheless, it fails to supply any boundaries or digital guardrails to outline the house. Because of this, I’ve needed to depend on instinct alone to keep away from unintentionally colliding with objects in my workplace, like my desk, throughout gameplay.

One other situation I’ve run into is establishing top. The software program asks that you simply put your top in centimeters, which is ok. Nevertheless, there’s a bug where some SteamVR video games wrongly interpret that information and assume you’re a big. So, in Battle Group VR, an RTS house game, I used to be towering, comically over the spaceship’s bridge, unable to work together with something as a result of it was out of attain. I had to return to the setup course of and play with totally different numbers to get a working top.

This results in one other downside: the hand monitoring on the controllers. The controllers are snug and use the same halo design as different VR headsets. Nevertheless, there’s noticeable enter lag from button presses and gestures to actions in-game.

In video games comparable to Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempest Fall or Strolling Useless Saints and Sinners, selecting up objects or attacking enemies comes with simply sufficient enter lag to make it really feel off. Furthermore, attributable to wonky monitoring, actions, and imprecise controls, it would not really feel as easy and exact as one thing just like the Meta Quest 2, which nonetheless has higher inside-out monitoring regardless of being fairly lengthy within the tooth nowadays. 

VR headset on a table.

(Picture credit score: Future)

Many SteamVR video games aren’t optimized for Crystal’s controller, both, which forces you to manually bind controls for every game. That provides an annoying quantity of busy work earlier than you’ll be able to even begin taking part in. Worse but, the controllers do not robotically flip off if you energy off the headset, so you could bear in mind to bodily energy them down individually to keep away from draining the batteries.

That is extra of a difficulty as a result of SteamVR is where I’ve performed all my video games as Pimax’s digital storefront would not provide a lot gaming content material in the meanwhile, with solely a dozen or so video games and apps accessible.

I’m genuinely shocked to discover a headset at this value level doesn’t provide any video passthrough function. That might have allowed me to get a way of my environment whereas utilizing VR, and once more is one thing the outdated Quest 2 comes sporting. This omission is disappointing, particularly since establishing the play house has turned out to be a herculean job because of the lack of fundamental performance. 

Personally, I really like video passthrough. It lets me peek over at my telephone and see if I’ve any missed messages throughout play, and never with the ability to step out for a second makes VR a really isolating expertise.

One different lacking function, and probably the most vital one which has but to be added regardless of it being on the Pimax Crystal’s specs checklist, is wi-fi mode. Whenever you swap the headset to wi-fi mode, you might be greeted with a “content material coming quickly” popup, leaving you with a wi-fi headset that may solely be used when plugged into your PC. Till it is added, there is no technique to see how nicely SteamVR video games work streaming wirelessly to the headset, which once more is the one place where I can play video games immediately. 

Among the eye-tracking options, comparable to foveated rendering or auto-IPD, are additionally lacking from the launch bundle. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to change your IPD settings with somewhat button on the headset enhance the Interpupillary distance on the fly, which I actually like. 

Jorge shooting a pretend gun.

(Picture credit score: Future)
Purchase if…

You desire a highly effective PC VR gaming headset: The Crystal will make your VR video games look higher than ever, due to its 8K decision, huge FOV, and glass lenses.

Do not buy if…

 You desire a VR headset that is simple to make use of and arrange: Getting your favourite VR video games to run correctly requires a comically great amount of busy work. The controller tracker is not as exact.

You need the entire bundle: In the meanwhile the total Crystal bundle is not accessible. With essential options lacking from the discharge model it makes the costly headset really feel like I am beta testing it.

I am shocked at how a lot this appears like I am utilizing a prototype or a beta model of a VR headset moderately than a remaining retail model of one thing delivery later this month. 

To Pimax’s credit score, the corporate has acknowledged these points. Lots of the issues I encountered had been already identified to Pimax, and so they guarantee me they’re working diligently to roll out updates prior earlier than clients begin receiving them on August 26. As an example, the battery scorching swap wasn’t working once I acquired the headset earlier within the week, and now it’s. Pimax is dedicated to post-launch assist and fixes. 

I respect the corporate’s transparency, however till these issues are resolved, there is no method I may advocate the Pimax Crystal to somebody seeking to make investments considerably in a premium VR headset. And there is no technique to be 100% assured that in a month Pimax may have all of the lacking items added and bugs squashed. 

It is a disgrace because it has the potential to be one thing really distinctive with its {hardware} and design if solely the performance had been there. Will probably be fascinating to see the state of the Pimax Crystal post-release.