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Chinese startup's '8K' VR headset is surprisingly advanced

Chinese startup's '8K' VR headset is surprisingly advanced
From Engadget - October 12, 2017

Before we go any further, yes, the 7,680 x 2,160 resolution here is not the "8K" you are thinking of (that's 7,680 x 4,320, twice as many pixels), and some went as far as accusing the company of misleading people with the product name. Pimax argues that the "8K" here is to highlight the much higher horizontal resolution which, to be fair, is an industry first. A more accurate way to describe this is that each eye is looking at a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) panel with a 90 Hz refresh rate inside the headset, and if you ask me, this sounds just as impressive in today's market. Maybe "Pimax 4K Duo" would be less controversial?

Speaking of display panels, unlike the PlayStation VR, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, the Pimax 8K uses CLPL or "customized low persistence liquid" panels instead of OLED. Pimax claims that with CLPL it has "completely eliminated ghosting and improved brightness" (presumably a comparison to traditional LCD). CLPL and OLED apparently only have some minor differences in terms of contrast and color temperature, but the former can achieve a higher pixel density for the same cost. It's unclear what sub-pixel arrangement has been applied to this CLPL technology, but I will update here if I hear back from Pimax about this.

As I waited in line for some hands-on time, I noticed that the demo setup was running on an MSI laptop equipped with an NVIDIA GTX 1080 GPU. I thought: surely that would struggle with an "8K" output? I later found out that Pimax 8K is actually designed for 4K input or less (the prototype was using HDMI, but the final version will likely use DisplayPort instead), and then it upscales the signal to "8K" internally. This means your PC could get away with using just an NVIDIA GTX 980 or GTX 1070, and you'd still be able to enjoy the invisible pixel grid on the displays.

Indeed, the brief session of Fruit Ninja through a Pimax 8K was literally the most immersive VR gameplay I have ever had. As soon as I put on the headset, I was amazed by the lack of black border within my vision. For the first time ever, I finally felt like I was not looking into a VR headset! The device felt comfortable to wear and did not feel heavy despite its bulky look -- unlike the StarVR with a similarly wide 210-degree FOV. Pimax claims that its headset is actually lighter than a Vive, but it has yet to finalize the weight.

As expected, I could not see any sub-pixels thanks to the insanely high display resolution, nor did I notice any ghosting. Interestingly, I only found out after the demo that the laptop was actually just pushing a 2,560 x 1,440 output, but what I saw was still significantly better than what I am used to on other VR headsets. So far, this whole package is basically everything I have ever wanted in a VR system. Head tracking and the Vive-like controller worked fine, too, though I will need more hands-on time to assess their reliability.

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