Home » Pimax Crystal hands-on half two : A really versatile headset

Pimax Crystal hands-on half two : A really versatile headset

by Oscar Tetalia
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Today I host one other nice article by Rob Cole, who writes once more about his expertise with the Pimax Crystal headset. If you wish to learn his earlier submit, you will discover it right here.

Introduction

Following my first article earlier this yr, Pimax’s Crystal has pleasantly shocked me with a sequence of software program updates that activated new {hardware} options, while bringing quality-of-life enhancements to headset connection and monitoring. 

As Pimax celebrates its eighth Anniversary, the Crystal is sort of feature-complete and has turn into what could possibly be described as a really versatile headset. Happy anniversary, Pimax! 

The built-in Tobii eye-tracking working at 120hz made a noticeable distinction to headset setup and optical consolation, in addition to decreasing the rendering workload in video games appropriate with dynamic foveated rendering. 

The inside-out monitoring mode additionally noticed massive enhancements, while a brand new 72 Hz mode allowed for sustainable body charges in resource-intensive flight and driving simulators, particularly for customers with out top-tier graphics playing cards.    

Later throughout testing, I acquired the SteamVR “lighthouse” faceplate, letting me benefit from the precision of sub-mm room-scale monitoring, while enabling using Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Pimax Sword controllers, in addition to Vive and Tundra trackers.  

Following the primary article, I bought my RTX 3080ti graphics card and acquired an RTX 4080, boasting round 30% improve in rasterization energy; offering increased body charges at increased resolutions, which actually let me begin to respect the headset’s full potential.

However, as RTX4090 customers reportedly nonetheless battle to push the headset to its full potential, Pimax Crystal will definitely profit from the following era of GPU, in all probability not due till 2025. You can by no means have sufficient GPU energy for VR and upgrading from 2080ti to 3080ti to 4080 enabled increased body charges and elevated super-resolution on my Valve Index, with a really noticeable distinction within the headset. The Pimax Crystal is not any totally different in that respect.  

For now, good outcomes are being achieved on the Pimax Crystal through the use of sensible know-how like dynamic foveated rendering, a specifically developed OpenXR run time, and third-party instruments like Quad View rendering. Towards the tip of my testing, I bought to check out Almalence’s new “Digital Lens OpenXR plug-in” with attention-grabbing outcomes, extra on this later.

Here are my findings for the reason that first article was printed, beginning with a topic near my coronary heart. 

Headset ergonomics

Initially, I discovered the Crystal to be a comparatively snug, although clearly heavy, headset. It weighs 1.2kg with the tether laid flat. Much has been stated in regards to the headset’s weight in opinions, however one thing to think about is that human beings can carry as much as 20% of their physique weight on their heads, so long as it’s balanced and comfy. 

According to AGV Sport, many motorcycle helmets weigh between 1400-1800 grams, and these are designed for energetic use in excessive circumstances. So, sure, it’s heavy, however after a few classes, you don’t discover it anymore as your physique (neck and shoulder muscle tissues) begins to get used to it, as a result of the rear battery helps to stability out the entrance of the headset. 

We do want to concentrate on inertia although, with a heavy headset tending to maneuver round extra on the face than a light-weight headset. However, this may be mitigated to some extent by having an excellent match that retains the headset securely clamped to the face with out exerting undesirable strain by overtightening the straps.   

Talking of ergonomics, initially, I couldn’t get far sufficient ahead into the headset utilizing the consolation face cushion (that has an prolonged head pad), which barely decreased my subject of view while additionally inflicting a hoop of distortion across the lens edges and pronounced chromatic aberration.  

The common Pimax face cushion introduced my face ahead into the proper place however didn’t help the perimeters of my face, letting the headset wobble about on my face after I moved. This usually triggered the lenses to exit of alignment with my eyeballs: generally the lenses would find yourself in the precise place however extra usually didn’t, inflicting the visuals to degrade with motion, which required fixed adjustment. 

This drawback gave the impression to be exacerbated by a free match between my face and the face cushion, somewhat than simply the additional weight of the headset. Tightening down the harness elevated face strain with out stopping side-to-side motion, because the plastic base for the face cushion simply gave the impression to be made for somebody with an enormous head! 

This is a neater drawback to unravel than becoming a headset that’s too slim, as all that was required with the Crystal was a solution to scale back the width of the face cushion. For reference, my head is 59cm which means I take a medium-sized bicycle helmet, albeit on the higher finish for medium.  

The inventory “face gasket” on my Valve Index was just too slim to permit my face to suit and required an costly 3D-printed large plastic base and no matter face cushion I might re-cut to suit, which was lower than ideally suited. Thankfully, the Crystal didn’t require this drastic a modification. 

Sticking Velcro self-adhesive strips again to again, I made easy facet spacers to cut back the width of the plastic face cushion base, earlier than refitting the common face cushion on high. After some adjustment this gave a cosy match with no facet gaps, taking away the wobbling when shifting about, which was a giant enchancment. I additionally loved the texture of the common cushion and located it cooler as the prolonged face cushion had made my brow slightly too heat. 

Moving onto the rear, the usual cushion was fairly skinny and didn’t really feel supportive or snug, usually inflicting a slight ache throughout the center of my parietal bone after 1-2 hours in VR. After some puzzling about learn how to clear up this, I used a spare Valve Index headset rear foam spacer (made for small heads) and lower off the portion that plugs into the Index harness, earlier than sticking strips of industrial-grade Velcro onto the rear. 

With the brand new rear cushion in place, mixed with the modification to the face cushion, I discovered the Crystal turned tremendous snug and it stopped shifting independently of my head when turning or trying about. So regardless of the 1.2kg weight, I ended up with a well-fitted headset that principally felt like an outsized Valve Index, which is not any dangerous factor! Visually, issues have been a lot improved, from a slight improve in subject of view to minimal distortion throughout the lens edges, and far decreased chromatic aberration. 

I had deliberate to change the highest strap however discovered I didn’t must, as my mods had stabilized the headset. However, your mileage could fluctuate with Pimax itself releasing a head strap improve within the close to future for round $20. I’m nonetheless inquisitive about attempting out the brand new head strap as I’m certain it is going to convey additional stability and luxury advantages to my already very usable setup. 


(Image by Pimax)

As the cushions are simply secured to the Crystal utilizing Velcro, it’s tremendous straightforward to make modifications with out inflicting any harm to the unique headset elements. I’d extremely suggest individuals strive modding their Crystal if having any consolation or stability points. The group has gone additional bringing out designs for 3D printed facet spacers, strap attachments, and face cushion bases. 

Before this text went reside, Pimax launched 3D CAD information for the Crystal, letting the modders actually go to work with their artistic use of 3D printing. So count on to see every kind of cool stuff popping out quickly. https://pimax.com/pimax-crystal-3d-printable-model-for-modding/

Pimax Play updates 

Over the course of a number of months, my Crystal acquired numerous software program updates, after present process testing by the Pimax Crystal Beta testers (a gaggle of early adopters). The most instant enchancment was connection reliability, which saved me from struggling the tedious burden of constructing a number of makes an attempt to attach the headset to my PC.  

The connection improved a lot that I began utilizing the 6-meter fiber optic tether cable, having fun with elevated freedom of motion as it was thinner, lighter, and longer than the copper tether. I nonetheless averted utilizing the DP repeater (the field on the left facet of the headset) or the USB energy hub, by plugging the tether straight into the headset’s DP port.

Together with connection reliability, the Client updates included a lot improved inside-out monitoring, native dimming, lighthouse mode, audio latency adjustment, bug fixes, and different necessary options. 

Battery life gave the impression to be round 3-4 hours (eye monitoring makes use of extra energy), with the spare battery swapped in seconds to supply energy for longer classes. I wasn’t bothered by the shortage of charging while utilizing the headset, as the 2 batteries supplied greater than sufficient energy for a protracted day of VR.

Arguably a very powerful replace, and one thing lengthy awaited by the non-Beta group, was the activation of eye monitoring. 

Eye Tracking

Apart from classes a number of years in the past utilizing the HTC Vive Pro Eye and Microsoft Hololens, I didn’t have any expertise with eye monitoring. It was doubtlessly the massive sport changer for Crystal, with reported enhancements to rendering efficiency and optical consolation, along with the provision of eye knowledge for functions like VR Chat. It can also be very helpful in industrial and enterprise work, the place it offers biometric knowledge permitting for actionable insights into person conduct. 

Following the software program replace, I observed one thing known as “Eye Chip” being put in, with new settings showing within the Pimax Client to permit activation of the attention monitoring system.  The eye-tracking system is supplied by Tobii, who’s the market chief in eye-tracking know-how. This is what the corporate says about its know-how:

“How eye monitoring works in XR? In an XR headset, eye-tracking elements sometimes embody cameras and light-weight sources positioned in a ring-like construction between the person and the show. The core machine-learning algorithms interpret the digital camera feed to generate a real-time stream of knowledge factors reminiscent of pupil measurement, gaze vector, and eye openness. This info can be utilized, for instance, to find out how properly an individual can observe a stimulus, how they react to a scene, and their intent.” 

The advantages of eye monitoring, in line with Tobii, embody a way of realism, graphical readability, constancy throughout FoV, excessive and secure body fee, consolation for prolonged use, and easy rendering.

In phrases of the way it bodily works, the glass aspherical lenses match with an LED emitter ring across the perimeter, bathing the attention with invisible mild. You can see the ring of LEDs across the lens within the picture above. An angled mirror layer in every eye tube (beneath the detachable lens) displays the sunshine right into a small monitoring digital camera for every eye, with the info being processed utilizing a particular algorithm. 

As the picture above exhibits, as soon as put in, there are extra settings within the headset menu. Pimax have printed an in depth weblog submit to instruct customers learn how to use eye monitoring on the Crystal, as seen within the following hyperlink: https://pimax.com/de/how-to-use-eye-tracking-on-the-pimax-crystal/

Calibration

Inside the Pimax consumer software program, there’s a calibration routine, which is activated through the use of the headset settings. There is a small tab (seen within the picture above) that begins a easy Unity-based software, with a sequence of white and inexperienced dots that have to be adopted by the person. 

Once calibrated (begin by urgent A on the controller or Enter on the keyboard), you stop the applying (press B or Exit) and return to the Client headset settings menus to seek out eye monitoring turned on. Calibration needs to be carried out earlier than beginning SteamVR or OpenXR runtimes: in case you attempt to flip it on in the course of the center of a session, it received’t be acknowledged.  

It’s tough to attempt to {photograph} because it detects the presence of your face within the headset (which may be spoofed by putting a finger or tape over the proximity sensor) and additionally it is on the lookout for your pupils and received’t work with out the eyes being tracked. Anyway, I managed to seize the picture above, displaying the beginning of the attention monitoring check. 

Visual becoming indicator

As quickly because the proximity sensor detects your face, a visible indicator information seems with a easy graphic and “up” / “down” indications. This characteristic makes use of eye monitoring to find out the optimum vertical place of the headset in your face. The adjustment is made by barely elevating or decreasing the headset in opposition to your face: it’s fairly refined and generally slightly difficult to get proper, however usually works properly. 

As quickly because the eyeball alignment is sweet, the information disappears leaving you prepared for the following step, which begins the computerized IPD characteristic. 

Automatic IPD

IPD is the space between your pupils, often expressed in millimeters. Setting IPD accurately is essential for VR customers, to keep away from eye pressure, complications, and nausea and to make sure that world scale and stereo acuity are appropriate. The common IPD is 64mm for males and 62mm for females, although it modifications as much as the age of about 30. 

Far interpupillary distance, the place the person is trying far forward, is the measurement utilized in VR headsets, as close to pupillary distance (taking a look at an in depth object) ends in an IPD setting 3-4mm narrower because the eyes rotate inwards. For VR headsets we have an interest within the binocular pupillary distance (distance from the middle of 1 pupil to the opposite), although IPD can be expressed as monocular pupillary distance (separate numbers for left and proper eyes, usually barely totally different). 

Pimax is uncommon in providing particular person IPD offsets, vertical and horizontal, as seen within the settings menu discovered under. This makes a small adjustment to the software program render relative to the lens heart, to convey refined enhancements to optical alignment. 

To give a real-world instance, my optician confirmed my far IPD at 63.5mm binocular, and monocular measurements of 31.5mm proper, 32mm left.  It can also be quite common for left and proper eyes to sit down at barely totally different heights, which most headsets (other than Pimax) can not accommodate with out resorting to methods like barely twisting the headset relative to the face. Bear in thoughts although, there’s a restrict to software program adjustment as lenses have an optimum bodily heart (candy spot), and shifting additional away from this causes picture degradation.  

Once the visible becoming indicator is aligned on the Crystal, the IPD adjustment scale pops up, supplying you with one thing to give attention to, which triggers the motors as required to set what it thinks is your ideally suited IPD for the headset. 

Something I quickly observed was totally different IPD settings relying on when calibration was final run, as eye monitoring is ready by your craniofacial place inside the headset. Ideally, you wish to run calibration each time you place the headset on: this isn’t distinctive to the Crystal however a recognized subject with any eye-tracked headset. Each time the calibration is run, it adjusts the algorithm utilizing your private knowledge, and this units the calibration to the “recognized circumstances” at the moment.  

With the headset calibrated and fitted accurately, it landed round 63-64mm which was near my prescription, whereas with much less care it tended to land round 60-61mm which then required handbook adjustment utilizing the buttons on the headset, or software program contained in the Pimax consumer. 

One attention-grabbing query is: was 63.5mm truly the precise setting for my Crystal? After enjoying with IPD following my ergonomics changes to the headset, I truly discovered going slightly wider helped each eyes get a transparent image, on 63.5mm my left eye tended to be barely out of focus. Widening to 65mm confirmed a direct enchancment, with out leaving me feeling cross-eyed after a session, or inflicting any bizarre world scale issues.  

The Crystal doesn’t use parallel shows however has “canted” shows just like the Valve Index, and I’m assuming that is the reason for the distinction between my measured IPD and what truly works for me within the Crystal. The magnesium alloy skeleton and shows of the Crystal are canted, about 10 levels on both facet, which is double the quantity of canting on the Index: customers will wish to experiment with IPD settings to seek out what works finest for them! 

Dynamic Foveated Rendering

With the attention monitoring now working, and my headset arrange, it was time to discover DFR (dynamic foveated rendering). This is an easy thought in idea (the human eye has a slim, high-resolution focus , so the picture must be despatched in excessive decision solely in that focal area) however complicated in follow as a result of peculiarities of the human imaginative and prescient system. 

So what’s foveated rendering? It’s properly defined by Doug Eggert of Tobii: 

“Foveated rendering is a device-performance optimization approach that concentrates rendering assets on the world of the show the place the person seems. The content material within the space instantly surrounding the person’s gaze level is rendered in high-resolution. The remainder of the picture — the half within the person’s peripheral imaginative and prescient — is rendered at decrease resolutions, decreasing the assets wanted to render a scene with none perceived degradation in person expertise.”


(Image by Tobii)

There are two kinds of foveated rendering, the primary of which is named mounted or static foveated rendering. This may be deployed to any system (you’ll see it used on Meta Quest) and has a set heart at increased decision while the periphery is significantly decrease decision. Whilst this protects assets, it doesn’t present an optimum visible expertise, with noticeable degradation in direction of the surface, which might create a sensation of tunnel imaginative and prescient. 

Something attention-grabbing that Tobii mentions on its web site, is that earlier headsets with fresnel lenses didn’t have nice edge-to-edge readability, so mounted foveated rendering labored properly as the sides of the lenses already had blur. However, with the transfer to pancake and aspherical glass lenses with good edge-to-edge readability, this now not works so properly as there’s a must render your entire scene in excessive decision. 

Dynamic foveated rendering (DFR) makes use of correct eye monitoring to render the portion indicated by the person gaze in excessive decision, with areas exterior of this stare upon medium decision and the periphery at low decision. This requires a well-calibrated eye monitoring system working at a excessive body fee (120hz) and utilizing appropriate XR software program. The picture above from Tobii exhibits the 2 kinds of foveated rendering in a typical scene. 

You can discover extra details about this matter right here: https://pimax.com/pimax-crystal-what-is-dfr-and-how-it-enhances-the-performance-of-dcs-vr/

Within the Pimax Play consumer, there are settings for eye monitoring together with DFR, which may be switched with 3 tiers of adjustment, or left off. Due to a bug, it seems the minimal and most settings have been initially the unsuitable manner round, as some customers discovered when experimenting.

Something to concentrate on, regardless of eye monitoring being constructed into the Pimax Play software program on the consumer stage, is that not all video games will work with DFR, so Pimax has printed a listing the place customers have tried 42 totally different video games with various outcomes.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16GNwXAVCjUF9vCW6ubiUPQT00hZ7hRT5K_sbO6P9nYc/edit?pli=1#gid=0

To test whether or not DFR is working, use a instrument like FPSvr which is able to present your body fee: you will notice a noticeable distinction when switched on or off. Also, bear in mind that DFR (and eye monitoring) requires a PC consumer, so it’s not one thing you need to use in standalone mode. 

Taking one among my favourites, “Aircar”, I attempted working DFR at most and bought the next lead to 90hz mode:

  • 100% decision (4312×5104 per eye)
  • Graphics settings to the utmost in Aircar
  • Aircar render decision 1.0
  • Average FPS 89.4
  • GPU body time 7.7ms
  • CPU body time 2.7ms

This was very spectacular as beforehand I had to make use of 70% decision to hit a secure 90fps, which resulted in a barely softer, much less clear picture.  With DFR working and determination to the utmost, the picture high quality was breathtaking, and I didn’t discover any artifacts or visible tearing even shifting my gaze about as shortly as potential. 

Eye Tracking Data

Something that Pimax Crystal customers observed is that the attention monitoring doesn’t expose the complete vary of eye monitoring knowledge. Pimax has been requested about this in a latest AMA:

Greenonetrailmix: “Tobii has eye monitoring values that aren’t enabled for the Pimax Crystal that different VR headsets have with Tobii {hardware}, one particular case is the Vive Pro Eye. The finest eye-tracked headset available on the market. Why haven’t we seen some further values that the {hardware} has for Social VR functions reminiscent of VRChat? The group as an entire for social VR desires these further options built-in. Missing options in query: Pupil diameter, eye openness, convergence distance, and gradual non-binary blinking.”

Pimax: “Thanks to your query. While built-in eye monitoring introduces the capability to help an array of eye-tracking-enabled options, it’s necessary to prioritize those who present one of the best worth to customers for the goal use circumstances. For instance, the talked about Pupil diameter characteristic is a scientific function sign obtainable through Tobii Ocumen, a complicated toolkit that gives builders with a framework to report, set up, and analyse biometrics in addition to quickly construct and deploy scientific-grade VR merchandise in specialised industries like healthcare and medical evaluation. Pimax Crystal, as a high-end gaming VR headset, is presently not appropriate with Tobii Ocumen.”

One methodology to reveal this knowledge is to make use of a third-party software like “DamagedEye” developed by Ghostiam which is able to present gaze course, pupil diameter, blink or eye openness, and the digital camera stream from every eye. This may be downloaded from right here: https://github.com/ghostiam/DamagedEye

(Image by Ghostiam)

For VR Chat customers trying to make use of eye knowledge for his or her avatar, they might want to obtain two functions by Ghostiam known as “VRCFaceTracking” and “Tobii Eye Tracking Module for VRCFaceTracking”. Full directions are included with every software, please observe the hyperlink for extra info: https://github.com/ghostiam/VRCFT-Tobii-Advanced

Standalone mode

Finally, the brand new software program replace activated the long-awaited “standalone mode”. This is the place the XR2 processor and onboard battery begin to make sense. After eradicating the tether I switched the headset to standalone mode and powered it up. The SteamVR faceplate is left put in, however the headset routinely switches to Pimax’s inside-out monitoring which the XR2 processor controls, as an alternative of monitoring knowledge being despatched again to the consumer PC.

A black background with white dots, that I’m assuming are a loading display screen, appeared, adopted by a room setup display screen providing a fast setup, or a customized room setup the place the controller is used to attract a top level view of your playspace. Once the room setup is full, a house menu hundreds that might be acquainted to Android customers. The Crystal runs on a modified model of Android, just like the Meta Quest and Pico 4, and might use OpenXR software program which ought to make porting Quest and Pico video games comparatively straightforward. 

It felt very cool to be indifferent from the tether. Though I’m primarily a PCVR person, I’ve used sufficient headsets like Quest, HTC Vive Focus, and Lenovo Mirage Solo to be accustomed to the advantages of going standalone. 

I suppose the headset is working at decrease decision than PCVR mode, as issues look slightly softer in comparison with utilizing PCVR the place you might have a robust GPU drawing lots of of watts from mains energy.  In standalone mode the Crystal is working on the XR2 processor, which has a way more modest energy demand, it’s truly very spectacular contemplating the large distinction in comparison with a PC. 

I seemed by means of the software program library which consisted of the next titles:

  • Hitstream
  • X-Fitness
  • Pierhead Arcade 2
  • David Slade Mysteries: Case Files
  • Labyrinth Trap VR
  • Voxel Fly
  • Z Show
  • Frog & Froggie
  • First Person Tennis
  • Whirligig VR Media Player
  • OpenBrush 
  • Firefox (net browser)

As Open Brush was a free title to obtain, I put in it shortly. Within minutes, I used to be fortunately drawing squiggles. The headset and controller monitoring within the standalone mode was competent, I had no points throughout my session, and explored the house menu discovering many controls together with native dimming and brightness. 

Other functions have been paid, and never having arrange any fee strategies I didn’t obtain the rest, as I used to be extra curious in regards to the standalone mode than eager to spend hours utilizing it. Losing the tether took much-needed weight and drag off the headset, making my head really feel lighter and fewer restricted. 

The standalone mode actually works however would require a considerable funding in content material to draw customers, as the shop could be very restricted in the intervening time, and can’t compete with current standalone shops from Meta, HTC, and Pico. As the outdated saying goes, “Content is king!”

SteamVR faceplate

The most fun new characteristic for me was the SteamVR faceplate. After registering my curiosity, the good individuals at Pimax quickly shipped one, and following some software program updates I used to be prepared to put in it.

The first step of the set up is eradicating the unique faceplate, which is each beauty and useful, defending a sequence of mesh air filters, followers, and air channels. To take away the unique faceplate, I like to recommend utilizing a plastic spudger or related decide instrument. You can leverage the sting and open a spot earlier than working round and giving the faceplate a tough tug, it ought to pop off. 

It’s then very straightforward to suit the lighthouse faceplate, with a central connector plugging into the headset, and the plate then clipping into place when pushed down with mild finger strain. 

After the most recent software program replace, I switched to Lighthouse monitoring within the Pimax Play Client, which instantly acknowledged the SteamVR faceplate fitted to the Crystal. My three 2.0 base stations have been additionally shortly acknowledged, so I paired some Valve Index controllers utilizing the Pimax Client. 

After beginning SteamVR, I did the room setup, selecting standing mode simply to test issues out. The acquainted sight of Index controllers sitting in my dwelling house was very welcome, I moved about randomly twisting and turning to take a look at the monitoring, it was flawless. It had additionally set my floor peak to the precise ground stage, while offering that rock-solid sub-mm precision that lighthouse customers come to count on. 

I opened some video games, to take a look at the controller functioning and monitoring, and I had no points in any respect. After working the room setup once more to extend my play house, I checked out “Into the Radius” which has a full physique gear rig mounted on the participant’s physique, resulting in a number of small intricate actions. The SteamVR faceplate handed this acid check with flying colours. Somehow I then spent one other 30 hours over the following week simply enjoying Into the Radius… I believe I discovered my new favourite VR sport! 

I did a back-to-back comparability with the Index and was shocked on the distinction with the Crystal demonstrating its vivid colours, deep blacks, and tremendous sharp readability while the leap to 35ppd actually opened up the panorama, letting me see clearly throughout the sport world. Super spectacular stuff.

Another necessary consideration for simulator movement platform customers is that movement compensation works very well on the lighthouse SteamVR monitoring system, permitting for exact monitoring with out unusual drifting or different motion-platform-related monitoring errors creeping in. 

I additionally tried my Pimax Sword controllers, which instantly paired with none fuss. I’ve at all times preferred utilizing Sword in appropriate video games, reminiscent of Beat Saber and Thrill of the Fight the place they really feel a lot better within the hand than the Index controllers. 

SteamVR will fortunately change between Sword and Index just by turning off the energetic controllers and turning on the inactive controllers, they don’t require pairing every time. I attempted utilizing one Sword and one Index controller in every hand, which labored with none points. 

Overall the SteamVR faceplate was very spectacular and properly definitely worth the improve price of $200 (usually discounted if bought with the headset). Note that you could go away the SteamVR faceplate put in, and change again to inside-out monitoring which is able to convey the 4 cameras again on-line. 

The 72hz mode

This has been a latest replace, a most welcome one. I used to be failing to hit 90hz on my RTX4080 in lots of video games, except subsampling because the render decision is noticeably increased on the Crystal in comparison with older headsets like Valve Index or Vive Pro. Subsampling (sub-resolution) is just not ideally suited on increased decision headsets, because it results in a softer, much less sharp picture. 

SteamVR stories 100% decision on my Crystal as 4312 x 5100 per eye, while the massive BOE 3.2” LCD panels have a local decision of 2880 x 2880 pixels per panel.  In comparability, the Valve Index’s older BOE panels have a local decision of 1440 x 1600 with SteamVR reporting 100% decision as 2016 x 2240 per eye. 

The distinction between show panel decision and software program decision is a results of distortion correction being utilized to current pictures accurately by means of every lens to the person eyeballs. Crystal additionally makes use of canted lenses (10 levels per eye), whereas the distortion correction is designed to work with VR software program which has been made for almost all of headsets utilizing parallel shows.

Additionally, Crystal is just not a “native” SteamVR headset, and it operates by means of the Pimax Play consumer, which causes a further efficiency hit, in comparison with utilizing native headsets like Vive or Index. This is just not distinctive to Pimax, my HTC Vive Pro 2 operated by means of its personal software program layer on high of Steam, too, with a measurable influence on system efficiency. 

Operating these increased decision headsets with their very own software program layer could be very taxing in your PC, which means chances are you’ll not hit secure 90hz in lots of video games, in comparison with older, decrease decision, or native Steam headsets. Though 72Hz is listed as “Lab Mode”, it’s totally useful and secure when working in all software program I attempted together with simulation, motion video games, and visible experiences. 

This now provides the Crystal the choice of 72hz / 90hz / 120hz making for a flexible headset the place the person can determine what’s most necessary: increased body charges or increased decision. 72Hz must also current a easy, pure end result when viewing motion pictures or filmed media, because it’s a spherical a number of of 24 fps which avoids body insertion. 

For simulations and visible experiences, the 72hz mode with increased decision is good, for sooner energetic gaming the 90hz mode with a decrease decision might work higher. When altering body charges within the Pimax Play Client, the headset will routinely restart. This takes slightly longer with the SteamVR faceplate as it’s detected every time the headset begins. 

However, I did expertise an odd bug if beginning in 72hz mode with a “sparkly” sq. in each shows, till the headset was restarted in 90hz after which switched again to 72hz. Pimax is conscious of this curious bug and is trying into it, it will likely be addressed in a future software program replace.  

Almalence Digital Lens OpenXR Plug-in

This was an attention-grabbing growth I had not too long ago examine. Before the tip of this assessment, I used to be contacted by Eugene at Almalence, providing the chance to check their plug-in, “enhancing seen picture high quality in head-mounted shows by computationally compensating optical aberrations.” 

Setup was very straightforward, downloading a small software and ensuring to observe their setup directions which included turning on eye monitoring, and turning off dynamic foveated rendering, while setting render high quality to “most” and determination to 100% (4312 x 5100 per eye). 

As described by Almalence:

“Beyond Pixel Density: The Challenge of Image Quality

In the realm of digital actuality shows, reaching superior picture high quality extends far past merely growing pixel density. The actual problem lies in transmitting these high-resolution pictures by means of the show’s optics with none lack of readability or introduction of aberrations. Given the inherent limitations of head-mounted shows, reminiscent of measurement, weight, and the dynamic nature of the attention’s entrance pupil, optimizing picture high quality can not rely solely on optical design. As show resolutions soar, optical elements more and more turn into a limiting issue, doubtlessly degrading the general visible expertise. Enter the Almalence Digital Lens: a dynamic optical aberration correction know-how that transcends conventional bodily limitations. This revolutionary answer considerably enhances optical efficiency with out including any further bulk or weight to the headset. It successfully unlocks the complete potential of high-resolution shows, actually making that prime decision seen.”

Almalence will solely work with functions constructed utilizing OpenXR (not OpenVR). They supplied a brief checklist of appropriate functions to strive, so I began with Beat Saber because it was already put in on my PC. It’s very straightforward to allow/disable the applying utilizing your keyboard (press delete) with insert turning the gaze indicator on or off. I did strive utilizing the applying with a number of OpenVR video games which after all didn’t work! 

In Beat Saber turning the Digital Lens on confirmed a positive sharpening of the picture, particularly the blocks, edges of the background, and menus. I must also state that menus had decreased chromatic aberration, which was very welcome. 

Toggling between on and off demonstrated the sharpening very clearly, with graphics having a slight shimmer switched off, which utterly disappeared when switched on. I additionally tried utilizing Almalence with DFR switched on, and had no points in Beat Saber, in truth I’ve by no means seen it look so good, and it simply hit 90fps regardless of the ridiculous decision (4312×5100 per eye).


(Image by Almalence)

Very spectacular stuff! I attempted taking pictures while working, however because it requires tracked eyes, it didn’t let me seize any pictures by shoving my telephone digital camera contained in the headset. Shown above are a few pictures from Almalence demonstrating their sharpening know-how.

More info on this know-how may be discovered right here: https://almalence.com/pimax-crystal-turns-crystal-clear/

Additional software program

As I bought additional into my testing, I realized of numerous extra functions constructed to reinforce picture high quality and enhance rendering efficiency. These are primarily aimed on the simulation group, the place functions have heavy CPU and GPU calls for, which means even RTX4090 customers can battle with efficiency in flight or driving sims. I’ve listed a number of functions, and am presently testing them with good outcomes. 

Open Composite 

Introduction by Developer Znix:

OpenComposite OpenXR (beforehand generally known as OpenOVR – OpenVR for OculusVR – however renamed as a consequence of confusion with OpenVR) is an implementation of SteamVR’s API – OpenVR, forwarding calls on to the OpenXR runtime. Think of it as a backwards model of ReVive, for the OpenXR appropriate headsets.

This lets you play SteamVR-based video games on an OpenXR appropriate headset as if they have been native titles, with out using SteamVR!

Why would you wish to do that? There are a number of good causes:

  • Some customers have bother working SteamVR on their machines 
  • While extra work must be executed on OpenComposite’s facet for this, it may possibly doubtlessly get barely higher efficiency as a consequence of a number of design choices, as a consequence of not having to help the Vive 
  • OpenXR is much less vulnerable to the stuttering that has plagued SteamVR 
  • Again an issue for some individuals however not others, SteamVR can take a while to begin up 
  • SteamVR is a number of gigabytes in facet – that is likely to be an issue for some individuals.”

More info on this software program may be discovered right here: https://gitlab.com/znixian/OpenOVR

Pimax XR 

Introduction by Developer Mbucchia

“PimaxXR: an implementation of the OpenXR commonplace for Pimax headsets

This program is an implementation of the OpenXR commonplace for Pimax headsets on Windows. It lets you run OpenXR functions with out SteamVR. It is just not produced by Pimax.

It is constructed on high of the official Pimax PVR native SDK and goals to supply a really quick and environment friendly implementation of the OpenXR commonplace for Pimax headsets.”

More info may be discovered right here: https://github.com/mbucchia/Pimax-OpenXR

Open XR toolkit 

Introduction by developer Mbucchia

“This software program offers a group of helpful options to customise and enhance current OpenXR functions, together with render upscaling and sharpening, foveated rendering, hand monitoring to controller enter simulation, picture changes and different game-enhancing tweaks.”

More info may be discovered right here: https://mbucchia.github.io/OpenXR-Toolkit/

Quad Views

Introduction by developer Mbucchia

“Quad Views rendering, generally known as “multi-projection” or “dynamic projection”, is a rendering approach that an software could use to implement foveated rendering. This software program allows you to use Eye-Tracked Foveated Rendering (generally known as Dynamic Foveated Rendering) along with your Pimax Crystal, Meta Quest Pro, and different headsets supporting eye monitoring through OpenXR in video games utilizing the quad views rendering approach like Digital Combat Simulation (DCS) and Pavlov VR.”


(Image by Pimax)

More info may be right here: https://github.com/mbucchia/Quad-Views-Foveated/

Pimax’s weblog additionally provides an excellent article explaining how Quad Views works, and learn how to set it up in your Crystal: https://pimax.com/quad-views-foveated-rendering-for-pimax-crystal/

Rounding off this text, I used to be fortunate sufficient to have a chance to ask some questions straight of Pimax, with numerous their {hardware} specialists stepping ahead to supply some solutions. 

Q&A with Pimax

  1. Where did the concept of Crystal originate? Pimax has at all times been pushing innovation within the VR business. That’s not just a few PR discuss. We had the primary 4K headsets in 2015, and went to 8K later, with an enormous 200 diploma FOV. But it’s nonetheless onerous to place ultra-high readability along with super-wide FOV. So whereas the 8KX makes use of wideFOV, the Crystal focuses on ultra-high readability (and the 12K would be the merging of each these points…). Anyway, one of many key points of the Crystal — from the get-go — was glass aspheric lenses. We imagine that after you go above 30 PPD, you need to actually go for glass. And the Crystal with its high-res QLED panels does. The glass lenses are brighter, and sharper and permit the person to see all the small print of the panels. And glass can also be why it’s named Crystal. 
  1. How lengthy did the event of the {hardware} take? Is it tough to fabricate? The Crystal in a manner is the logical evolution of the earlier headsets, so there are some elements that we might construct on — however the growth took a number of years.
  1. What have been the trickiest challenges to beat throughout growth? The glass lenses. Not simply the distortion profiles, however particularly making them. No producer in VR has used glass lenses of their headset earlier than. Ours come from our design from a provider that additionally makes lenses for images digital camera manufacturers reminiscent of Leica, Olympus, Nikon, and Sony. But VR lenses are greater than digital camera lenses, so yeah that was the most important problem. 
  1. Can you inform me extra in regards to the design of your aspherical glass lenses? The glass aspherical lens on the Pimax Crystal incorporates solely a single glass component along with the only glass mud filter within the headset. This implies that mild can solely move by means of 4 air/glass obstacles. Since just one lens controls the sunshine, we had to make use of very high-quality lenses with a well-adjusted distortion curve. The benefit is that many of the mild depth is preserved and we are able to produce brighter pictures with much less colour shift. 
  1. How are the lenses manufactured? The glass lens producer makes use of our design, beginning through the use of sq. blocks of glass as supply materials. That is heated and put right into a mould. This mould can also be fairly costly to make with dozens of coatings and layers. It is then tuned to the form that matches within the Crystal (not an ideal circle), and by hand fine-tuned to the proper form. It’s then cooled and coated. Those lenses then go to our manufacturing unit the place we add the periphery with the infrared lights for eye monitoring, the chip for lens detection, and the magnets for simple placements on the Crystal. FYI, we’re making a video about how our lenses are manufactured within the manufacturing unit and it needs to be printed within the subsequent two to 3 weeks. This video will even present the difficulties of the method, however Pimax nonetheless chooses to go for glass lenses as a result of glass for lenses is only a superior materials in comparison with resin. We wish to convey one of the best visible expertise to VR customers. 


Logan from Pimax (Image by Pimax)

  1. Can you inform me extra in regards to the growth of your inside-out monitoring? It’s a lot improved since its launch! First, we’ve got a high software program growth and algorithm staff. We made full use of digital camera and IMU knowledge through the use of graph optimization, improved monitoring pace, and monitoring impact in nook circumstances. Deep studying improves the impact in some eventualities. The synchronization accuracy between the controllers and the headset improves controller monitoring robustness. We hold optimizing the inside-out monitoring, not simply the accuracy, however we’ve additionally improved the battery lifetime of the controllers lots (associated to the monitoring algorithm). 
  1. The Crystal controllers are very totally different out of your Sword controllers, what led to this? The Crystal controllers work along with the inside-out monitoring. In the teardown video, we point out the buttons are tracked with a Wi-Fi antenna, and the place with an IMU chip, in addition to the infrared rings on the controllers. The digital camera of the Crystal headset tracks these rings, so the controllers needed to be designed essentially in a different way than the Sword controllers, that are tracked by base stations. 
  1. how does the backlighting work? What variations do the settings make? Pimax calculates the picture brightness of every space in line with the mushy algorithm and controls the backlight brightness of every space by this brightness worth. Thus, the brightness of the picture is correlated with the brightness of the backlight to attain one of the best distinction and scale back the facility consumption of the backlight. Differences that settings make: Pimax set totally different threshold ranges for various ranges. Because every individual’s sensitivity to brightness is just not the identical, the notion of the general image can also be totally different. The person by means of the setting of the extent can have extra alternative house to seek out probably the most appropriate for their very own backlight brightness. 

(Image by Pimax)

  1. How does the quantum dot layer work? This layer might help elevate color gamut. 
  1. How many costs can the batteries take? Like any battery, it’ll get much less environment friendly over time, however it may possibly be sure that after 500 charging cycles, the facility may be maintained at greater than 80% 
  1. Are substitute batteries obtainable as spare elements? The commonplace package deal incorporates two batteries. Do you imply past that? We are planning on it, customers should buy it individually. 
  1. What is the decision of the standalone mode? The bodily decision is 2880 x 5760. 
  1. Is the mirrored layer within the eye tube (below the detachable lens) for eye monitoring? This one serves two functions. One for eye-tracking sure; it displays the infrared lights in your eye into the Tobii eye-tracking sensor. It additionally doubles as defending the QLED panel from any mud. You can simply clear the mirrored layer. No mud or grime can attain the QLED panel. 
  1. Does eye monitoring present the complete vary of eye knowledge? (Gaze course, pupil diameter, blink / eye openness, et ) We use Tobii eye-tracking and regardless that the {hardware} is able to full particulars reminiscent of pupil diameter, it isn’t wanted for DFR to work precisely — so we don’t use the Ocumen license. 
  1. Any ideas a few customized face cushion sooner or later? (Similar to Bigscreen Beyond) Although a customized face cushion has advantages reminiscent of an excellent match for customers themselves, it isn’t useful for customers who wish to share the headset with household or mates, or in enterprise conditions. Our commonplace face cushion form is designed intentionally to allow it to suit most customers’ faces. Currently, we’ve got no plans for this however we shared 3D information for whoever desires to print their very own masks: https://pimax.com/pimax-crystal-3d-printable-model-for-modding/
  1. Can you inform me extra in regards to the large FOV lenses? How are these totally different from the 35 ppd? Some customers — particularly these with an 8KX — wish to have Crystal to have extra FOV, regardless that it already has a few of the widest FOV available in the market (and helped with edge-to-edge readability on the lens). The massive FOV lenses have greater than 10% bigger horizontal FOV than the usual FOV lenses. We are nonetheless perfecting these lenses and ready for the ultimate specs affirmation. 
  1. How will the wi-fi PCVR mode work? Will SteamVR mode work with wi-fi mode? Via our WiFi 6 and 60G Airlink module. It’ll stream in Standalone mode, however you possibly can play video games by means of SteamVR sure. It nonetheless adopts inside-out positioning and controllers You can watch the demo right here:
  1. Is there one thing uncommon in regards to the Crystal that you could share with our readers? Glass aspheric lenses. Crystal is the one VR headset that makes use of glass lenses. Highest decision in shopper VR headsets, on par with Apple Vision. Dual mode. Although our standalone mode is just not mature sufficient when it comes to ecosystem and software program now, it’s the basis of our wi-fi PCVR module (60G Airlink and WiFi 6E) to set tethered VR avid gamers free. Crystal additionally helps the MR faceplate (coming quickly). With this faceplate, customers can see their environment accordingly. It is very useful to flight/racing simmers who must see the cockpit. 

Many because of Logan, Otto, and Tony at Pimax for his or her time in answering my questions, and sharing their skilled information with our readers. 

Conclusion: The up to date Crystal expertise

Compared to my earlier experiences, total issues have a lot improved. Once I solved my ergonomics points, the Crystal turned far more snug and secure. I shortly adjusted to the burden of the headset, not discovering it an issue even for longer classes. 

Updated software program unlocking many fascinating options has allowed the Crystal to begin to shine. The most necessary two options for me have been eye monitoring and the SteamVR faceplate. 

The inside-out monitoring system noticed real enhancements and was greater than appropriate for simulator customers and many alternative video games. The headset monitoring was at all times very competent, and controllers labored a lot better than throughout my early testing, particularly for occlusion when enjoying taking pictures video games the place one hand is positioned in entrance of the opposite.  

However, as somebody utilizing Lighthouse base station monitoring for a few years, the sub-mm precision from extremely correct SteamVR monitoring has noticeable advantages for sturdy emotions of presence in VR, and when you get used to the “gold commonplace” of VR monitoring it’s onerous to return. I additionally discovered that utilizing SteamVR monitoring helped offset the decrease body charges I might obtain (in comparison with my Index), making for a extra snug and current expertise. 

As Stanford Professor Jeremy Bailenson stated in his latest interview with Skarredghost when requested about this subject, “There’s a joke I inform at cocktail events, and it’s not likely a joke as a result of it’s not humorous in any respect, however in case you’re going to ask me, what are the 5 most necessary options that trigger presence in VR? My reply for you goes to be monitoring, monitoring, monitoring, monitoring, monitoring.”  

Combining the high-resolution readability of the Pimax Crystal with the precision of SteamVR monitoring makes for a tremendous VR expertise I couldn’t replicate in different headsets. As time went on, I used my Index headset much less steadily, selecting to placed on the Pimax Crystal. As somebody who was an Index launch day proprietor, and has spent lots of of hours over 4 years utilizing an Index, this was fairly a paradigm shift. 

As Crystal matures with bugs being ironed out and new options enabled, and community-built software program is offering fans with precision instruments to maximise their enjoyment, it must be stated that Crystal has lastly come good. 

Should the Crystal have the battery, the XR2 processor, the wi-fi chip, and different elements that undoubtedly add bulk and weight? Some have commented that Pimax ought to launch a stripped-down model with SteamVR monitoring and no battery, onboard processor, or standalone mode.

I’m not right here to make this judgment however to evaluate the Crystal as we discover it in the present day, it’s a really versatile product that has its personal inherent worth. Yes it’s heavier and bulkier, and you’ll need to vary that battery, however they’ve constructed one thing that has unprecedented visuals, nice sound, and a completely functioning software program platform that provides a positive diploma of management to the facility person. 


Airlink (Image by Pimax)

Being ready to make use of inside-out monitoring for simulator classes, SteamVR monitoring for room-scale video games, or standalone mode while you really feel like liberating your self from the PC and its tether, is a really neat proposition.  

I can not wait to check out additional developments like the brand new head strap, large FOV lenses, and the 60G Airlink wi-fi module. The large FOV lenses develop the horizontal subject of view, however are taking time to get proper as Pimax talked about within the Q&A, beause lens design is a sophisticated enterprise. 

The replaceable lens design is a giant bonus on this respect, however maybe extra importantly (because the 35ppd lens is nice) will stop the headset from being written off as a consequence of lens harm. There is nothing worse than scratching a lens, rendering a headset ineffective, however this can by no means be a problem with the Crystal.

As with different options on the Crystal, the wi-fi chip is already constructed into the headset (see the picture above), however requires a software program replace and a small dongle that plugs into the highest USB-C port. Pimax has been testing the wi-fi module for a while, getting it dialed and prepared for launch to the general public. Since HTC’s Vive wi-fi adapter is bandwidth restricted with apparent outcomes on Vive Pro 2, and Nofio nonetheless hasn’t launched their adapter for Index, Pimax can have one thing distinctive right here for PCVR customers. 

Many because of Pimax for the long-term mortgage of the Crystal, their ongoing technical help, and most significantly for bringing this attention-grabbing headset to market with its wonderful visuals and versatile modes of working. Thanks, Pimax, and completely satisfied 8th Anniversary! 

My because of: Pimax crew particularly Daisy, Logan, Tony and Otto, Tony Skarredghost, Eugene at Almalence, and Sara Ramos for the pictures; lastly my because of you the reader for making your manner by means of this small e book. 


Disclaimer: this weblog incorporates commercial and affiliate hyperlinks to maintain itself. If you click on on an affiliate hyperlink, I’ll be very completely satisfied as a result of I’ll earn a small fee in your buy. You can discover my boring full disclosure right here.

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