Pimax 5k+ Sadness

review
fix-guide
issue

#1

I’m coming from a Samsung Odyssey with which I use Vive wands. Works awesome aside from having to align the controllers at the start of a session.

I’m running a 1080Ti.
I had both headsets up and running the same games at the same time using different computers for quick comparisons.

PiTool Settings
Brightness: Normal or maybe low for dark games
Render Quality: 1
IPD: 60mm
IPD Offset: 0
Smart Smoothing: on or off seem to both work fine for me. I’m not overly prone to motion sickness.
Hidden Mask: On or off hasn’t made a difference for any games I’ve played.
FOV: I prefer large for the peripheral image
Refresh Rate: 90 Hz

Steam Settings
Resolution: 100%

The Good

  • The first thing I noticed was the added clarity. Very nice.
  • Wider FOV is cool.
  • I really like PiTool and all the options!
  • The strap works fine. Not exactly premium quality but very usable and comfortable enough.
  • LCD displays don’t feel like they’re slowly baking my eyeballs like OLEDs do.

The Meh

  • The lenses rest on my nose a bit at the 60mm IPD mark. Hurts.
  • Compared to the Odyssey there isn’t as much image overlap towards the nose and I find it noticeable.
  • I was worried about the black levels so I compared Elite Dangerous with the Odyssey which has an OLED display. Maybe the blacks are darker on the Odyssey but the 5k+ still looked nicer IMHO due to the clarity.
  • Vibrancy compared to the Odyssey is maybe a bit lacking but, again, the clarity is worth it.
  • The input lag on the 5k+ is noticeable compared to the Odyssey. Some people talk about downgrading Steam VR to solve this but I have not experimented with that yet.

The Bad

  • Distortion at the edges. It’s a compression of the image. Most noticeable at the left and right edges where it appears horizontally compressed. As I understand, people with lower IPD are more likely to experience this. I’ve more or less gotten used to it after my foam fix listed below.
  • Something doesn’t quite look/feel right with the headset on, even when not moving my head. I’ll elaborate if I can later.

Conclusion
I’m impressed with most things about the headset. There is, however, something that just feels off about this headset compared to how natural the Odyssey feels visually. It’s most noticeable when I play Blade &Sorcery, possibly because I pay more attention to details in my peripheral vision or something. Originally I did not enjoy using the headset. It felt kind of wrong using it. Recently, while playing different games, it has seemed noticeably better. Not sure what changed…

Tricks and Fixes
Here are some tricks I’ve learned while trying to fix this issue. Hopefully they help others:

  • Most people recommend normal FOV, though I don’t notice an improvement either way since there’s so much distortion.
  • Physically adjusting the headset. Use a grid image as your desktop background or something like that to find the right spot for you.
    Moving the HMD vertically seems to fix a downward or upward bend in the image.
    Moving the HMD further away reduces the compression distortion a bit. Probably because the FOV is decreased. Unfortunately, too far and the top/bottom edges of the image start bending which, arguably, is no better.
    Rotating the HMD left or right.
    Tilting the HMD forward or back. I found adding 1/2 and inch of sealed weather stripping foam to the top edge of the cushion helped the compression distortion a noticeable amount.
  • First, see jojon’s post. I like his way of setting IPD. Other options: Dialing in the IPD while looking at something fairly far away until double vision goes away then fine tuning until your eyes feel more comfortable. The distance you look at while doing this will be your ideal viewing distance. This will make closer or further away objects look more blurry than the distance you chose (as I understand, only corrections based on eye tracking can fix that). Once you’re happy with that do the same with your IPD offset in PiTool to find the perfect settings.
    You can also use your controller for this. Place it as far away from you as possible without losing tracking on the controller or HMD. Look at it with the HMD off then quickly put your HMD over your eyes. Make notice of the initial double vision you have. Adjust your IPD/IPD offset until you have the least double vision.
  • If you have serious double vision in a game make sure you go to PiTool -> Settings -> Brainwarp then check Compatible with parallel projections.
  • Try using it for a few extended sessions to adjust.
  • If you have clipping issues, by this I mean that models or polygons disappear at the edges of the display, try turning on “Compatible with parallel projections” in PiTool.

Edit
Grammar & spelling.
Render clipping issue fixed thanks @cml I didn’t notice this was fixed with parallel projections.
Trying to perfect my description of what the visual issue is with the 5k+ vs the Odyssey.
Refined the review a bit.
Updated settings that seem to work better.
Update after trying more games.


#2

Yeah that’s exactly how I experience the 5k+. Others seem to have no distortion at all, or can live with it. But to me it kind of destroys the experience. Haven’t used my 5k+ in quite a while now


#3

Have you tried parallel projection? My clipping issues were instantly solved by that

Edit: Oh looks like you did


#4

So you were able to get it working again after your teardown?


#5

Maybe try turing hidden mask off.


#6

@cml
I might not have noticed the clipping being solved by parallel projection since I was focusing on the distortion at the time. I’ll maybe check that out for completeness.

@Heliosurge
I do remember turning hidden mask off. Maybe I’ll double check it tomorrow again to be sure.

Thanks both for the suggestions!


#7

I will note that after optimizing, there are some distortions between the eyes and at the periphery that pretty much go away after a few days of use


#8

Yeah it works fine. Had a problem with steam but fixed that via a different pc


#9

Try to find a thicker face cushion. It helped reduce distortion greatly for me and many others.


#10

The 22mm ones works wonders for me:

Or Your can try double-sided velcro strips under the standard foam to thicken it.

To test if that’s what does the trick just try to pull the headset away from Your head slightly (top/bottom or overall).

Might also be the other way round, so also try holding the headset without any foam cushion on it (to see if You need a thinner one).


#11

@DrWilken
I did try it without the face cushion while finding the best position. I actually made thicker foam using sealed weather stripping foam from the hardware store. Then stuck on some hook and loop (Velcro) tape to the foam so it’s removable. That worked awesome, it even got rid of any little bit of light I had coming in at the edges and pulled the lenses off my nose. I, personally, had to tilt down by adding foam to the top. It did lessen the distortion but putting the Samsung Odyssey on still feels like a huge relief for my eyes and brain.

Thank you for the suggestion though!


#12

Definitely no improvement to the distortion with hidden area mask. Clipping is gone with parallel projections turned on (no pun intended) as per the change in my original post.
Please also note that I had to re-evaluate my original impression. It is not the distortion bothering me so much as a sort of double vision feeling. Most notable when I compare directly to the Odyssey which just feels right when I use it. I’ll try messing with the IPD again today.


#13

Double vision is common with some titles that do not render correctly for canted screens, and the Compatible with Parallel Projections option exists as a backwards compatibility mode for those… but you are having that problem with other titles as well, you say?

For fitting the HMD, I would zero any PiTool offsets, and adjust the HMD so that is sits parallel with the ground when you look parallel with the ground, and with the lenses as close to your eyes as comfortable. Their centres should be the same height as your eyes. After that… I’ll just copy and paste something I wrote on reddit a few days ago:

My personal idea of how to fit the p8k/5k, is to download a SteamVR dashboard background called something along the lines of: “Miami Mike’s FOV measurement tool”, which is just black, with a 0-360 ruler around the equator; Then look at the 0° mark, so that it is straight in front of you (one of your eyes being dominant may play tricks on you here, mind), and lock your neck there, so that your head stays put; Now close your left eye and look with the right one at the 10° mark (EDIT: Don’t turn your head, remember!) – it should be the centre of focus, with the SDE perfectly sharp and clear, beginning to blur equally much to the left as to the right; Do the same with your left eye, at the 350° mark. Adjust lens spacing until both these are true, regardless of what the IPD reading says. You may need to shift the entire HMD sideways, if your two eyes are not equidistant from your nose. You’ll want to be pretty close to the lenses, but if you are unable to achieve this, you will end up with more lens-to-lens distance than you would otherwise, which will manifest in even more of the binocular rivalry, but is still preferable to the alternative.

This is my recipe for least discomfort, and best viewing experience overall. Your mileage may vary. :7

Doing this, involves accepting the tradeoff that when you swivel your eyes to the left, your left eye will get progressively better focus up to a point (10°) while the right one goes out of focus, and vice versa, but should result in as correct a duo of projections as you are going to get.


#14

Thanks! After doing this I still ended up with IPD 60 but IPD offset is now 0 again. Last time I played around with it I decided IPD offset at 1.5 was my new thing but I must have been trying too hard, lol.

Unfortunately, that was a recent adjustment so it won’t be any better than before :frowning:


#15

Oh, bummer. :frowning:

I take it your (real) IPD is at a maximum 60mm, then?


#16

Seems right around there. I know I set the Odyssey to just over 60 or 60. My wife’s IPD is even lower and she seems to like the 5k+ but has yet to do a longer session on it. That will be our next test. Hopefully she’ll want to keep it, if I don’t figure out what’s going on.


#17

If you do: Please do consider sharing your conclusions - I am sure I am not the only one here who is curious. :slight_smile:

(For reference, I am 59-60mm IPD myself, with a slight asymmetry, that makes it necessary for me to scoot any HMD to the side a little, to make both lenses line up. I have also such prominent brow and cheekbones that it is difficult for me to get close enough to the lenses for optimal conditions. With the default foam mask that came with my p5k+ (I hear there have been variations), I have wound up with the HMD adjusted to 62-64mm (according to the on-screen readout - the corresponding lens spacing is greater, due to the screen canting), for most comfortable result, because of the unintended extra eye relief. It sounds like you are on the other end of the scale, getting right in there and involuntarily cleaning the lenses with your eyeballs, and would need to add some distance instead, were your IPD noteably lower than 60mm, but you have already tried increasing your foam thickness, so… :7)

It is of course not out of the question that you have simply received a misaligned HMD… :7