So Day 2 at Siggraph and trying a few different demos and applications using the StarVR headset.
At the Intel booth, I was able to watch a VR rendered movie (http://constructfilm.com/) where you could move about 1 square meter to change your perspective of the action. It was quite interesting and the people developing the software said they were only able to render to about 80% of the StarVR resolution due to getting the updated SDK only last week. Here I did notice the SDE as I was looking for it. It did still look very good, although not as nice as my first look yesterday. If I were to make a comparison, I would say it had the difference between looking at Valve's The Lab and then looking at The Gallery: Episode One. The Lab uses a lack of detail to make the SDE less apparent while the more detail seems to make the SDE more apparent.
Then I moved on to my demo at StarVR. I watched a helicopter move out on to a runway, then was able to get in as it was flying over the mountains. The visuals were good, but not great. The reason I picked this is my current passion is playing Elite Dangerous, and I wanted to see what I could of the details in the cockpit. I was hoping StarVR would have made it look as good as it could, and when I went to look at the details of the control panels in the cockpit, I could not read any of the text, or get a clear image of the cockpit. In this I was most personally disappointed. In all honesty, either this demo was somewhat rushed and not demonstrating what this headset is fully capable of (which I could understand if the latest SDK only came out the week previous)
Finally there was a demo where I was inside an office where I could adjust the settings for the furniture and lighting - really, not much here to write, although again, I wasn't all that impressed by wheat they were showing me.
The other demos that I dd not do, one was a game where you were like King Kong and then one where you were able to custom design a car to you wanted. The car one was the most computer intensive one from what I understood, and I did not get much information on the game.
To answer the questions as best I can, I think the SDE as compared to the Vive Pro was similar, however, the tobii eye tracking that is built in to the StarVR will make all the difference as developers and hardware will be able to use it to render more detail where your eye is looking instead of rendering the full image at the same resolution. On top of that, you have the wide FOV instead of the binocular effect of the Vive Pro. This was my first time trying the Vive Pro as well, and if I were able to get one or the other I would certainly go with the StarVR in terms of comfort, FOV, and the eye tracking. I think the StarVR is a winner and I think it really is the first 2nd generation headset on the market although I think it will be surpassed by the Pimax (at least I hope it will) and whatever 2nd generation offerings we will see from HTC and Oculus.
I didn't notice "distortions" out at the edge, but I didn't really look for them any more than I would notice them in my natural peripheral vision. The wide FOV enables you to use your peripheral vision to draw your attention to that point and then that is in the center of where you are looking as you turn to look. But to know they are rendering the images out to that wide FOV means your hardware is working harder to render these images than for the Vive Pro
If you have a Pimax pledge - I don't think I would let it go in order to try to get the StarVR (although I would gladly purchase one if someone reading this is looking to sell it). I have not been able to try even a demo of the Pimax from when it was making the rounds, but I think it will be equal if not better for a home user experience from what I have seen thus far and part of that will be it will be optimized for home users while the StarVR is targeting a different clientele and might not get the SDK attention for gamers. The StarVR has a larger FOV but a lower resolution than the 8K, as the StarVR will probably be on par with the Pimax 5K with a larger FOV.
I don't think I would want to run either the StarVR or the Pimax 8K with less than a 1080ti, and I am most likely going to either grab a second hand 1080ti or try to get an RTX 2080 as soon as I can. The biggest plus for the StarVR headset here is that it is designed to use SLI to have one card render each eye having two display port cables. This is probably something business software will use more than game developers. I learned yesterday why VR developers are not using multiple GPUs and now don't see why they would unless they had multiple connections.
In the demo, the StarVR was using two sets of software - SteamVR and StarVR's own software. I am sorry, I did not have access to internet in the conference hall to be able to see the question to ask if they are able to play Steam games, although I was using the wands and SteamVR was running flawlessly. If I get back to the conference tomorrow I will ask, although as I was asking questions about the hardware needed to run the headset to its maximum abilities - the questions I was asking seemed to be getting deflected. If I were to make a guess, I would suggest they are in a similar position to Pimax right now - a working headset is there, but the needs are for software development and tweaking before this headset is fully customer ready. On the other hand, seeing the StarVR headset all over the exhibition hall running different applications and tools tells me they are right there.
Overall, it has been a good experience trying the different headsets. I loved what I have seen at Siggraph, particularly that VR was everywhere. Any of the articles or videos I have seen suggesting VR is dying could not be more wrong. The development tools, the companies focusing on VR and the talk all around the room tells me people are very excited about it. We are on the verge of the 2nd generation of HMDs and I think the industry is being pushed at the hardware level. The demands VR is putting on systems is going to force the next generations of hardware to continue to push the envelope much the way it did in the days of Wing Commander. Laugh whenever someone questions if VR is going to really take off, it already has and we are all trying to play catch up!