Last month, Pimax announced that it expected to have Pimax 8K M1 units ready in early March and that it would “showcase the M1 in roadshows” this month, but progress didn't go according to plan. The company released an update on the development of the Pimax 8K VR headset over the weekend which indicates that product development is again moving slower than planned. Pimax expected to receive a shipment of lenses in mid-February, but the parts didn’t arrive until March 8. As a result, the Pimax 8K M1 pre-production headsets won’t be ready until April.
Back From Holiday
In February, Pimax shut down for China’s two-week national holiday. The company said that its component supplier and the manufacturer that builds its headsets shut down for that period, and there was little Pimax could do in the mean time, so it gave its employees a break as well. Work at the Pimax office resumed on February 26, but the company’s engineers had to wait for the lenses, which didn’t arrive until March 8.
Pimax said that it takes approximately one week to test the lenses to ensure they meet the requested specifications. If the lenses meet Pimax’s criteria, the company will assemble and test a handful of M1 units. Pimax anticipates having the M1 headsets ready in April.
SteamVR Tracking 2.0
Pimax adopted Valve’s SteamVR Tracking technology, which offers sub-millimeter room-scale tracking, for the Pimax 8K headset, and upgraded to SteamVR Tracking 2.0 with the M1. Pimax said that the M1 headset features Triad Semiconductors TS4231 sensors, which are compatible with Valve’s upcoming SteamVR 2.0 base stations.
The new sensors are still compatible with the existing Vive base stations, but they can also communicate with the upcoming base stations. Pimax insists that the Pimax 8K headset works well with one base station, but with the new sensors, the headset should be compatible with as many four base stations.
Pimax’s vision for the Pimax 8K headset is bold and ambitious. When the company set out to produce an ultra-wide HMD with a higher resolution than any other VR HMD on the market, the technology to produce such a device didn’t exist. Indeed, it technically still doesn’t exist. The company promised its Kickstarter backers that the headset would operate at 90Hz, but so far, Pimax’s engineers are coming up short. The company isn’t ready to throw in the towel and give up on the 90Hz dream, but it said that the displays in M1 units would operate at 80Hz.
Pimax is currently putting most of its efforts into completing the Pimax 8K headset development, but the company is also working on controllers to go with it. At CES, Pimax had a mock-up of its controllers, but it didn’t have a working model. The company said that it would reveal an updated design at the end of March, and it should have a functioning sample in April.
Once Pimax is satisfied with the Pimax 8K M1 units, the company plans to ship them to a handful of early testers for feedback before signing off on the final production design. Pimax said it would select a small group of Kickstarter backers who are active within the Pimax community and a handful of professional reviewers to receive M1 units next month. A company representative said Pimax would reveal the tester list on the Pimax forums by the end of March.
Pimax said that it would provide an updating shipping schedule after it receives feedback from its early test group. The company still anticipates shipping headsets to backers in Q2, but the production schedule hinges on positive feedback from the test group. Negative feedback could result in a delay as the company wants to deliver the best product that it can.
Pimax plans to ship the controllers and Pimax-branded base stations in Q3.
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Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.