The amazing clarity of the Baymax Crystal has a flaw (it can be fixed)

At CES 2023, Pimax was showing off its latest high-fidelity headset, the Pimax Crystal, which uses new lenses and new displays for what the company says is its clearest image yet. And while it’s certainly an improvement in many areas over the company’s headphones, there is one major flaw that I hope Pimax can address.

The Pimax Crystal employs new lenses and promises to eliminate the glare and god rays that were visible in previous Pimax headsets (and many others) that used Fresnel lenses. That, along with high-resolution screens, purported HDR capability, interchangeable lenses (to trade the field of view for pixel density), and up to 160Hz refresh rate. For a full breakdown of the headset’s specs, see our announcement article.

At CES 2023, I saw the headset myself for the first time. Although the headset is technically capable of operating in a standalone mode, I’ve seen it work as a PC VR headset with SteamVR tracking.

Pimax Crystal (pictured without SteamVR tracking interface) | Image by Road to Virtual Reality

Naturally, the demo that was shown was up and running Half-life: Alex—It’s arguably the best looking VR game – showing the detail a headset can return with 2880 x 2880 (8.3MP) per eye displays. From my quick hands-on with the Pimax Crystal, I could see that this was a huge step up in clarity over the company’s previous headphones, especially in terms of edge-to-edge clarity. The visual basics were also solid in terms of pupil swimming, geometric distortion, and chromatic aberration. There was a little bit of mora visible on this speaker but nothing terrible as far as I can tell.

But there was one thing that immediately stood out to my eye that obscured an otherwise good-looking image: blur during head movement. While a still image viewed through a headset looks pretty sharp, once you start moving your head to look around the world, you’ll see a lot of blur – which is an issue for VR given that your head Often in motion.

Image by Road to Virtual Reality

My best guess is that it is caused by a blurring of persistence; A rendering artifact that mostly resolves on other headsets and is therefore rarely seen anymore. The continuous dimming is caused by the screen staying lit for too long, such that pixels stay lit while you rotate your head even when their position becomes inaccurate (because they are ‘frozen’ in place each frame, until the next frame comes up and updates the position to account for your head movement). Most headsets use some form of “low persistence” which counteracts this problem by lighting up the screen for only a fraction of the time between frames, such as moving your head, the pixels are not frozen in place, but are actually unlit, leaving your brain to fill in the gaps without See blurry pixels between frames.

The amount of blurring I’ve seen with the Pimax Crystal, I’d say noticeably detrimental to what’s an impressively clean image, though there’s a chance Pimax could fix this problem, depending on exactly what’s causing it.

For example, it’s possible that the headphones being shown at CES 2023 aren’t fully tuned in and the low stability isn’t set correctly (or maybe it isn’t enabled yet). In this case, it might be a matter of final tweaks before they get the correct display behavior which might reduce the blurring of continuity.

Another factor could be the headphones’ HDR capability. While I don’t think Pimax has shared any information about peak brightness, it’s possible that the monitor can’t do both HDR low brightness and stabilization at the same time (actually this is a challenge because HDR needs high brightness while still low needs modules pixels lit only for the minimum amount of time).

Oddly enough, I also noticed what appeared to be persistent blur on pre-release builds of PSVR 2…which also claim to have an HDR display. For both the PSVR 2 and the Pimax Crystal, I hope we’ll see improvements by the time the final headset heads out to customers.

And there are still other possibilities – this could not be continuous blur at all, but simply slow pixel-switching time causing some form of ghosting, which could be an inherent limitation of the screen or perhaps something that can be tweaked.

– – – – – –

In the end, I’m very impressed with the clarity and wide field of view of the Pimax crystal, but the blurring I saw during head movement hurt the image in my book. My hunch says this is probably a persistent blur issue, although it could be something else. We’ll have to wait and see what Pimax says about this and if they’re able to make improvements by the time Crystal ships.

Image by Road to Virtual Reality

Speaking of crystal charging. The headset was originally slated for release in the third quarter of 2022, but that date has been pushed back. Although the company hosted a Pimax Crystal launch event in November, at CES 2023 Pimax said the first headphones would go live at the end of this month, though the company also notes that it won’t reach full production capacity until the middle of the year. Even when the first units start shipping, accessories and key features, such as a headphone standalone mode — which makes up about half the value on offer — aren’t expected to be available until unspecified points in the future.

Leave a Comment