This is not a review of my Pimax 5K+. If you’d like to see my formal in-depth review of this headset, that can be found here: https://www.vrfitnessinsider.com/pimax-5k-headset-review-smashing-through-the-bounds-of-vr/
Nor is this even limited to my VR gaming experience. VR games are better, markedly so, but that encompasses such a tiny fraction of what the Pimax 5K+ has been capable of, it would be downright pedestrian to ruminate on that alone.
My experience with Pimax 5K+ has eclipsed mere technical specs or gaming fidelity. Pimax 5K+ has literally redefined my expectations for how VR technology can impact my world and reawakened a passion for VR that I’d never felt before.
Funny thing is, I never lost my passion for VR. Since first receiving my HTC Vive 3 years ago, VR has had a profound influence on my life. I think it’s necessary that I express what VR first did for me those 3 years ago to add some context for just how meaningful my experience with Pimax has been. It’s a long story that I’ll try and condense it as much as possible, but feel free to skip down if you like.
Just prior to getting my HTC Vive life had been throwing multiple curve balls my way. There was a new child in my life with some health issues, we were caring for my father-in-law in his final months of hospice, and my own wellness had taken a backseat. I was overweight, my previous fitness conditioning had gone out the window, and I had been living a largely sedentary life for going on 8 months.
I never would have guessed that virtual reality could help my actual reality get back on track, but that’s exactly what it did. I discovered that games like The Thrill of the Fight and Holopoint had a surprising side-effect, that they got my heart rate up and made my muscles sore. Having a background as a personal trainer, I had a pretty good frame of reference for exercise, but never had exercise felt so much like play.
That’s when I came up with my 50 Day VR Fitness Challenge. After 50 Days and roughly 43 hours of high-intensity gaming (and no other form of exercise), coupled with calorie tracking, I felt like my old self again. I had lost almost all my unhealthy body weight, and, more importantly, my physical conditioning had returned to a level where I could run, bike, and swim again without cramping up, getting breathless, or generally feeling like I was out of shape. I called it my cheat code for fitness because it took all the “work” out of working out and basically skipped the discomfort of transitioning from sedentary to fit.
I went on to open my own business, VR Fit, where I could introduce the general public to this fun fitness alternative, and it’s been a blast since.
So, what I’m trying to convey now isn’t so much a renewal of my passion for VR, as it is a pinnacle. I’m no stranger to using VR for things that I never thought I could before - and I’m also still using my Pimax 5K+ to exercise in VR too - but I have yet an even greater newfound appreciation for what VR can deliver.
If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, you may know an episode titled, The Cartridge Family. In it, Homer joins a gun club and starts using his gun for everything from opening beer cans to shooting down Lisa’s basketball off the roof, with hilarious results. Lately, that’s been me with my 5K+. I’m using it for everything!
Look Marge, it’s a can opener too!
I never expected the Pimax to replace my Vive as my exercise headset, but it’s so much better for working out in. When I’m playing a VR fitness game, immersion really is a big factor, so being able to see more of the crowd in The Thrill of the Fight, or the light show in Beat Saber makes me feel more present. I push a little harder and endure a little longer than I normally would because I’m more rooted in the action of the moment instead of feeling the accumulating body fatigue creep in.
The wider field of view gives me a huge advantage in games like Holopoint and Racket: NX too - better able to detect targets spawning peripherally or track a lightball spiraling the holodome - and being a more successful player means getting a more productive workout.
There’s another fitness game I recently found called Punch Pad Workout that’s basically like a workout version of that old game Simon. There are six arrayed targets that light up in a particular sequence and you punch them in the given order, all while dodging this revolving arm that randomly swings toward your head. It’s a great concept, but I’ve been unable to incorporate it into my workout routines because it’s basically unplayable in a 110-degree field of view. It seemed like no matter where I stood, or how centered I kept my head, one of those lit targets always managed to escape my narrow perspective and I’d lose the correct order, so I had to give up on it. But now, thanks to Pimax, my VR fitness routine gets a little more variety added back in.
Then post-workout, when it’s time to relax, watching movies and shows on Netflix has never been better. The HTC Vive didn’t have the resolution to do 1080p videos justice, and although my Oculus Go did have good clarity, the limited field of view meant that blowing the window up to movie screen scale would crop out the borders, resulting in either some degree of neck craning to catch all the actions or settling for a smaller screen than I wanted. No more of that struggle! I find myself deliberately putting shows like LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS on the back burner because they demand to be experienced in the glory of a giant screen in 5K while I lounge comfortably on the couch.
Same goes for games I used to play on my PS4 Pro. Using PS4 Remote Play over my home network connection I can blow up games like Spiderman and God of War to a massive scale. PS4 Remote Play requires that the PS4 Dual Shock controller be connected by cable to the Windows PC, so at first I was still stuck sitting in front of my PC, but then I had the bright idea of getting a micro-USB to USB-C cable to plug it directly into my Pimax 5K+ headset. Works like a charm! So now I’m back to lounging on the couch, staring up at that beautiful Bigscreen and slinging from building to building or throwing a massive ax at frost giants in my own private theater.
Virtual Desktop is finally useful for me too. I can have a text document open in a giant window while in a second window I can cross reference topics while I write articles or have a show playing. In fact, I’m writing this very topic in my Pimax 5K+ right now. Instead of being immersed in a game or a show, I can be immersed in my work and have all outside distraction cut out.
Perhaps most surprising of all, I’ve decided to start teaching myself guitar… in VR. There’s a Steam app called Rocksmith that works a lot like Guitar Hero, but instead of a guitar peripheral, you plug in a real electric guitar. The whole guitar learning process is gamified, and with my own selection of music to choose from, I get to strum right along with some of my favorite tunes.
Most people hate having a large nose gap that reveals the meat space of the real world, but it’s absolutely perfect for ensuring my finger placement is just right.
The fact that the outside world is walled off really makes me feel like I’m much more proficient than I actually am, since I am spared the cringey looks my wife is giving me as I stumble through.
I’m also following an on-line course called JustinGuitar that’s a lot more traditional, but again, being able to see Justin’s finger placement more easily on the theater-sized screen, or having chord charts up in a second window, makes the whole process much more accessible.
So those are just a few of things that I had never been able to do in VR until now. I guess you could say that before VR felt like a bike with training wheels. It still captured much of the experience of biking, but the capacity for experimentation was narrower. I feel like with the Pimax 5K+ those training wheels have finally come off and I’m free to realize the full potential of this incredible medium. I cannot wait to find out what else I can do.