Pimax reveals two new high-end VR headsets at its annual Frontier keynote

Pimax, a leading innovator in the Virtual Reality industry, announced two new models of VR headsets at its 2024 Frontier event, the Crystal Super and the Crystal Light.
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Pimax Super

Pimax, a leading innovator in the Virtual Reality (VR) industry, announced two new models of VR headsets at its 2024 Frontier event, held on YouTube this Monday. The Crystal Super is a new ultra-high-end headset, packing 29.5 million pixels and the world’s first changeable optical engine, allowing users to swap between QLED and micro-OLED panels. The Crystal Light offers the same 16.6 million pixels as the Pimax Crystal, but is a much more budget-friendly option, starting from 699 USD. Additionally, Pimax unveiled the specs for the 60G Airlink module, which enables true high-fidelity wireless PCVR through WiGig technology. 

Crystal Super: The world’s first changeable optical engine for QLED & micro-OLED

The Crystal Super represents a significant leap forward from the highly successful Crystal. Boasting a total pixel count of 29.5 million, it significantly surpasses the Crystal’s 16.6 million pixels, enabling a larger field of view (FOV), and higher pixels per degree (PPD) at the same time. These enhancements, combined with Pimax’s proprietary, innovative glass lenses, make Crystal Super the clearest and the most immersive VR headset. 

Besides FOV and PPD, the choice of display panel technology plays a critical role in the user’s visual experience. While QLED remains the top choice for high-end VR headsets, OLED panels are gaining traction, particularly following the Vision Pro’s release. Each technology offers distinct advantages for specific applications. The Crystal Super allows users the flexibility to choose between these technologies or opt for both, leveraging the advantages of each at a reasonable cost. 

This flexibility stems from the world’s first replaceable optical engine system introduced by Pimax at the event. This system permits effortless swapping of the optical engine, which includes both the display panels and lenses, thereby maximizing versatility and users’ freedom to choose. 

 
Specs

The QLED engine is paired with interchangeable glass aspheric lenses, while the micro-OLED engine incorporates innovative glass pancake lenses, another world first from Pimax. Irrespective of the display-lens combination, the headset boasts advanced inside-out tracking via four cameras, eye-tracking for automatic IPD (Inter-pupillary Distance) adjustments, dynamic foveated rendering, and built-in audio. The Crystal Super is designed to be a pure PCVR headset, without XR2 chip, and no batteries either.

  • Display: QLED+mini LED, or Micro-OLED
  • Resolution: 3840 x 3840 pixels per eye (QLED version, micro-OLED)
  • Pixel amount: 29.5 million (QLED version, micro-OLED 4K per eye, more pixels than the Apple Vision Pro)
  • Brightness: 200 nits (QLED version, micro-OLED TBC)
  • Refresh rate: 72Hz/90Hz/120Hz (QLED version), 70Hz/90Hz (micro-OLED 70Hz/90Hz)
  • Optics: Glass aspheric lenses (QLED version), glass pancake lenses (micro-OLED)
  • Audio: Integrated, 3.5mm audio jack 1x, microphones 2x
  • Tracking: Inside-out, Lighthouse cover optional
  • VR Mode: PCVR Only

The price of the Pimax Crystal Super will start from 1799 USD (excluding VAT), and it’s estimated to start shipping Q4 this year.

Crystal Light: High-end PCVR for everyone?

The Crystal Light serves as a streamlined iteration of the Pimax Crystal, retaining the core specifications that underpinned the original model’s success while removing features less important to PCVR use cases.

It boasts a 2880 x 2880 resolution per eye, with a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz, and continues to employ glass aspheric lenses. These features ensure the Crystal Light remains a highly competitive option in the high-performance VR market.

This new, budget-friendly model is introduced as a pure PCVR headset with no battery, no XR2 processor, and no standalone capabilities. Such adjustments have not only significantly reduced costs, but also decreased the weight by 30%. The decreased weight, coupled with enhanced ergonomics, has notably improved the comfort level of the Crystal Light compared to its predecessor.

To further manage costs, the Crystal Light does not feature interchangeable lenses like the Crystal, nor does it include the eye-tracking feature. However, Pimax has upgraded their Fixed Foveated Rendering technology, which does not rely on the eye-tracking feature as the Dynamic Foveated Rendering does, to continue to assist users in compensating for potential GPU power limitations.

These strategic choices enable Pimax to position the Crystal Light at an unparalleled starting price of 699 USD, marking a substantial reduction from the Crystal’s 1599 USD price point, and offering unmatched value in its category.In their Frontier keynote, Pimax highlighted: “We want to make the Crystal and its clarity available to more PCVR gamers, who want high clarity. We’re thinking about HP Reverb G2 , Rift S, and the Valve Index. If they consider a headset upgrade, where do they go to? Many headsets that were previously available to them have now been discontinued.”The Crystal Light is available for pre-order now and shipping really soon. Pimax’s estimate is May 2024. 

Pimax Crystal Airlink

Pimax also clarified that the introduction of the two new models did not mean that they would discontinue the highly successful Pimax Crystal.

The Crystal has been designed from the start as a wireless PCVR headset, to deliver high fidelity at full resolution and low latency, all without having to be physically tethered to a PC. This requires extremely high bandwidth and highly efficient utilization, necessitating the XR2 chip and battery as essential parts of the solution, and the original Pimax Crystal being the only model in the Crystal line-up to feature XR2 chips and batteries.

The wireless feature needs to be supported with an extra set of hardware, the 60G Airlink from Pimax, which includes a combined transmitter and receiver, plus a lightweight dongle that attaches to the headset via a micro-HDMI connection. The transmitter and receiver connect to the PC through HDMI, forming a complete hardware suite for wireless operation.

The 60G Airlink is a highly integrated solution that was designed in conjunction with the Pimax Crystal, ensuring the dongle adds negligible weight to the headset.

Utilizing Wigig technology, Pimax’s 60G Airlink offers significantly higher bandwidth than traditional WiFi solutions. Unlike even WiFi 6E — currently the fastest WiFi technology for VR headsets — which necessitates heavy visual compression and introduces noticeable latency, Wigig technology minimizes these compromises, ensuring an exceptional wireless VR experience overall.

Pimax has stated that the Pimax Crystal 60G Airlink module will:

  • Support the full resolution at 2880 x 2880 resolution per eye
  • Requires minimal compression
  • Supports 90 Hz refresh rate
  • Ultra-low latency
  • The expected battery life is 2 to 3 hours

The hardware for the 60G Airlink, which was demoed at CES2024 earlier this year, is now finalized and the price is set at 299 USD, ready for shipping later this year.
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