Pimax 5K BE: Underdog turned wolf? My LA Impressions


#1

I wrote an impressions post on the Pimax subreddit a few hours ago, thought I should post here too since I know many of you don’t go there too often.

I attended the Pimax backer meetup yesterday in Venice, CA and thought I should share my experience with the rest of you. I originally wasn’t going to post, but I saw some misinformation about tracking and incomplete experiences with the Pimax 5K BE. Luckily, I was able to try each headset with one of my all-time favorite’s (Skyrim), so I might be able more directly compare each of them than most of the other testers. To best understand my perspective, I’ll share some of my prior experience and biases involving VR.

Headsets I previously owned/extensively used:

  • HTC Vive (since launch)
  • Oculus Rift (>1 year)
  • Samsung Odyssey - 2880*1600 Pentile OLED (~1 month)
  • Dell WMR (~1 month)
  • Pico G2 – (~1 week, made sure to use it immediately before the meetup to compare SDE. King of current gen resolution/SDE with a 2880*1600 RGB LCD screen, better than the Oculus Go)
  • Pimax M1 (last LA backer meetup)

Biases and background information:

Current VR resolution and FOV is nowhere near enough nor acceptable. I still own the HTC Vive, but barely use it compared to when I first got it. After the initial wow factor wore off I couldn’t ignore the massive flaws anymore. The SDE was too apparent, FOV too restrictive, and resolution too low. I backed the full 8k package and up until this meetup I was set on not switching to the 5k+.

Mini rant on current gen VR (100 FOV headsets and below):

I honestly cannot disagree more with some opinions people have on current gen VR (usually outside this forum). I’ve seen some comments like “the resolution is good enough” and “we don’t need more FOV”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still incredibly fun to use but I view it more as a stop-gap until we can really experience VR the way it’s meant to be. VR is supposed to replicate reality, last I checked I don’t walk around looking through smudged binoculars with a screen door strapped to it.

Pimax Impressions:

The FOV is a game changer. It finally feels less like binoculars strapped to your face and more akin to wearing a ski mask. What used to be a constant hindrance is now an afterthought. Yes I still think we need 210° FOV in the future for perfect VR, but this is such a huge step up that it will do for now. All three headsets on full 170° FOV had some blur at the outer edges (maybe like 10° per side), it wasn’t horrible but could get annoying in most games with a lot of movement or quick turning. I believe the distortion wouldn’t be very noticeable in darker games, also it’s been massively improved over the M1 like others have said.

At normal 150° FOV you lose a bit of peripheral vision but nothing to worry about as it completely got rid of the distortions for me. It’s much more of a pro than a con and overall creates a better experience than the full 170° FOV in the games I tried. When you consider the sizable performance boost at normal 150° FOV it makes even more sense to almost always leave it on that option.

Surprisingly, the small 120° FOV is noticeably larger than the Vive’s. While I wouldn’t normally choose the option unless I had to, for games which won’t run smoothly at 150° FOV it won’t be the worst thing playing it on the small 120° FOV. It’s still a decent step up form current headsets.

The comparisons below are all based on my time with each headset in similar Skyrim scenes. When I’m talking about the text on 8K it was specifically during Elite Dangerous when I really noticed it.

8K, 5K+, & 5K BE - Colors

First thing I noticed before even thinking to evaluate the resolution was WOW! …these colors are bad. I couldn’t help but think that everything looked so dull. If the only thing holding you back from switching to the 5k+ and 8k is the color, don’t worry because it’s like choosing between bad and slightly less bad. You won’t be missing out on much. Now did it get better as the headset was on longer and my eyes adjusted? Yes a bit. I can imagine if I was at home and not taking it off every few minutes to try the next headset like I did at the meetup my eyes would have enough time to adjust to the brightness and colors more. Is this a deal breaker for me? No not at all, the pros simply outway the cons. I can safely say once I get the Pimax I will never touch the Vive again.

That being said about the 8K and 5k+, when I put on the 5K BE it immediately blew the other two LCD displays out of the water. The colors, saturation, black levels were amazing, everything seemed to pop and came alive. As you might have expected, the 5K BE clearly wins in colors over the other two Pimax headsets and is on par with other OLED headsets when it comes to these properties.

8K, 5K+, 5K BE – SDE (Screen Door Effect)

The SDE on both were far better than the Odyssey and Vive Pro, not just by a small amount. They seem to be on par with my Pico G2 just at a much larger FOV which is very impressive (so yes a bit better than the Oculus Go even). To my surprise the SDE was not less on the 8K than 5K+, it seemed to be about the same. On the 5k+ it’s only noticeable when looking for it on isolated light/bright colors (like the sky). The same applies for the 8K except the SDE also becomes very apparent when looking at text, I did not notice this on the 5K+. Text just like everything else on the 8K is smoother/blurrier than the 5K+ due to the upscaling so it’s harder to read. Although the biggest drawback of the 8K is it’s diagonal pixel structure, the way it renders text makes the diagonal SDE become oddly visible.

The SDE on the 5K BE is surprisingly not as bad as one might think given its pentile display. It was still noticeably better than that of the Odyssey’s SDE. I’d put it somewhere between the Odyssey and Pimax 5k+ in terms of SDE.

8K, 5K+, & 5K BE - Clarity, Latency, Ghosting, Refresh Rate, Tracking

5K+ and 5K BE beat the 8K in clarity due to the native/non-upscaled signal. We know the 8K runs at 80HZ, 5K+ at 90HZ, but I didn’t know what the 5K BE was running at and I couldn’t notice a difference between them. I asked the engineer who was there, he said it was running at 83HZ and thought they could get it to 85hz before release. I didn’t notice any ghosting or latency issues on any of them, but I can’t be certain the 5K BE doesn’t since I didn’t try a fast-paced game or shake the HMD around to check. They only had 2 base stations and not all the headsets were in view, the 8K was even only running at 3DOF since it was way out of view. You can ignore people who said there were problems with the headset as they might not have noticed this fact. They all seem like they’d operate flawlessly with 2 base stations setup correctly at home, at this point it’s not a concern at all.

Final thoughts:

This is how VR is supposed to be, very wide field of view and minimal screen door effect. Is it perfect? No, but it sure is a hell of a lot better than what we have now. Going in I thought I’d come out preferring the 8k, boy was I wrong. I wanted the lowest SDE no matter what, even if it meant less “clarity”. Better colors would have just been a plus. I came out of it thinking why the 8k exists after having tried the 5k+ and being most impressed with the 5K BE. If it was only between 8K and 5K+ I’d choose to go with the 5k+ over 8k because: the advantage in clarity is more apparent than I originally thought, same SDE but more pleasant to look at and shows up less, full 90hz, colors aren’t a disadvantage, and the icing on the cake is I get $100 back perhaps for the hand tracking.

Although, the sudden appearance of the 5K BE is now making me question if I should go for that or the 5K+. I’ll be eagerly waiting for @mixedrealityTV @SweViver @VoodooDE to receive the 5K BE and thoroughly review it. I can’t decide on the 5K BE yet with Pimax advertising it as “business only” and having flaws that the consumer wouldn’t want. With my limited time on the 5K BE I didn’t notice any real flaws besides having slightly worse SDE. I think it’s close enough that it just might be worth it for the far better colors. I’m backer number ~5,000 so I have time to wait for the reviews to see what Pimax really means by “business only” before I decide. Let’s just say if there isn’t some hidden problem with the 5K BE, it might just be the one I go for…


5K BE for Elite Dangerous?
About Pimax business versions and models for the upcoming pre-order
#2

great review, seems the 5K BE may be a worthy contender for being the best one.


#3

Very useful thanks.

You say what matters most to you is SDE moreso than anything else which is why you were expecting to prefer the 8K even if it were to have less clarity for example.

You then say the BE has more SDE than the plus (somewhere between plus and Odyssey).

So I’d have thought you would be into the plus more. Unless that colours are that much better in the BE.


#4

Is the SDE better on the 5KBE than the 4k?


#5

But… what about led burning on OLED displays?
After some extensive pro using of CV1 and Go, the burned ghost parts are clearly noticable.
IMO BE is not an option for home using.


#6

@sk1 My original expectations were due to clarity and SDE being only differentiating factor between the 8K and 5K+, otherwise offering the same experience. But with the 5K BE it introduced a third metric of color/contrast into the mix. It offered nearly the same SDE and clarity, but with much better colors/contrast. I’ll put it this way, the bit more SDE of the 5K BE was like a -1, while the much better colors/contrast were a +2. The overall experience benefited more than having a bit less SDE but worse colors would have.

Now let’s say I was able to take both home and play on the 5K BE first for a few hours and then switch to the 5K+ for a few hours. If I came out of it adjusted to the 5K+ and not able to recall the difference in colors or how it effected my experience, then I would indeed go with the 5K+ for the lower SDE.

I recall Sebastian and Sweviver both saying they got used to the colors and it became a non-issue, I want to see if that still holds up after they test the 5K BE for several hours then try going back to the LCD models and see if those colors will really work for them long term. That’s why I’m excited for their reviews, as they will be able to best discover if it’s superior overall in the long term and not just under the backer meetup conditions.

@turtle_bird I can’t say as I haven’t tried the 4k model, but I remember someone saying the 8K was about the same as 4K. So I’d assume the 5K BE will be a bit more noticeable than the 4K, but someone else who’s tried both for themselves will have to tell you.

@Siberdt I haven’t really heard of anyone getting burn-in on their Rift or Vive, maybe you got a below average screen or perhaps mainly played games with a static HUD element? I don’t see how the Go could have gotten burn-in as that’s an LCD. I don’t see OLED burn-in being a problem, all the other big manufacturers are doing it. The only problem for the 5K BE will be if it has ghosting issues, higher latency, etc from the start.


#7

On my previous job, my Oculus Go (OLED) had a noticable permanent ghosted parts of contrast HUD elements from Oculus Home


#8

@Infligo , hats off ! The most reasonable quick comparison with clever explanation ! Thank you so munch for sharing your impressions here. Becouse my feelings about 8k & 5K+ are very simmilars to yours I will trust you in terms of BE which I wasnt able to test . Thank you

Oh BE mhm !!


#9

What you say makes sense thanks for clarifying.

In terms of getting used to something though it doesn’t matter how many hours one spends in something you will then get used to the new thing quickly, so I strongly suspect that testing side by side the BE will seem brighter but play with the 5K+ for any length of time and you just get used to it.

Getting used to these things isn’t some psychological thing that may be dependent on how long you’ve tried the other bit of kit for, it’s an actual change in the physical properties of cells in the nervous system. This is why I’m so not-fussed about these sorts of differences.

Eg/ You can play with the Vive Pro with its awesome brightness for 20 years non-stop and then stop and change to the 5K+ and within minutes your brain is receiving and processing the same experience and you won’t notice a difference at all. The human brain is absolutely phenomenal. Now, if only I had one…


#10

I believe the Pimax 8k and 5k+ along with the Vive have a proximity sensor on them that turns off the screens when you’re not wearing the headset.


#11

I was half convinced to switch to the 5K+ from the 8K when my # comes up, due to the mostly in agreement reviews… even if colour/blacks were really important… but this new BE threw a wrench in that.

I’m waiting on more reviews too, but if the SDE is better than the rift/vive/odyssey (though not as good as the 5k+/8K), there are no deal-breakers (bad ghosting), and it’s sharpness is between the 5K+ and 8K, then the upgrade to OLED colours and blacks becomes really tempting on the 5kBE.


#12

Can we upgrade to 5kBE? I haven’t been reading as much lately so I might have missed it.


#13

In the various Reddit comments they mentioned that backers could switch to the BE for
8K Backers: +$100 (guessing you don’t get the coupon)
5K Backers: +$200


#14

Thanks! Well another variable in the equation :exploding_head:
well after all it might not be that bad that I have a mid ranged backer number - gives me more time to figure out what I want … or try an educated guess :pray:t3::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::pray:t3:


#15

The go uses lcd so what you’re saying can’t be true


#16

May be I’m mistaken about Go or Cv1
I just can’t remember whitch one headset had the burned areas.


#17

I could imagine that its very unlikely to get burn ins with oled panels on a vr headset in general. how much content with fixed elements in the fov are there? even on a tv display with oled you won’t se it that often, when used in gaming, but with a vr headset you are constantly moving its content.

@Infligo thank you so much for this well observed and thorough first experience and write up. I wish every 8K backer has a chance to read it, because it describes very well, how the current holy grail of that bit of colours and contrast/brightness-difference, everyone tries to hold up against the 5K+, and also the sde difference, really looks like. in the end this makes it clearer between two clpl displays being nearly the same in colours/blacks and an oled panel, being a new contender for our decision gymnastics.

cheers


#18

This headsets were my working units and were on my head for hours and hours everyday. Not on my face, but forehead. So, the proximity sensor was useless and all UI elements of the Oculus Home were always on the same places. I had even to extract the headphones to mute the environmental sounds all the time.

So, yes, it’s unlikely for you, but I dont wanna the same OLED issues for my own gear, cuz I’m a dev and still have a plans to keep the headset active a lot of time.


PIMAX 5K ULTRA: The real answer to zero SDE
#19

yes offcourse, for this specific work scenario, there might be a real potential risk. and might be unwise to try it with your sole pimax oled hmd, to test if these panels will get burn ins. but in most vr environments oleds wil not be put to this weakness i think.