If you haven’t heard of Pimax, it’s probably because it’s virtual reality (VR) headsets have been out-of-reach for most consumers. With its most premium headset, the Pimax Vision 8K X starting at $1,299 for an 8K resolution experience, Pimax has been reserved for professional applications and hardcore VR enthusiasts. That’s about to change with today’s announcement of the entry-level Pimax Artisan VR headset that will start at $449.
We’re not crazy; $449 isn't quite ‘cheap,’ especially when the budget, standalone (no PC or smartphone connection required) Oculus Go (opens in new tab) is currently starts at $150. However, the Oculus Quest (opens in new tab), the best VR headset (opens in new tab) for most since it’s also a standalone and has a good value-to-performance ratio, is currently going for $400, as is the PC-connected Oculus Rift S (opens in new tab). This means pricing for the PC-connected Artisan is pretty typical by today’s standards. But keep in mind that this is for the headset only. If you don’t already have them, you’ll also need to add the cost of base stations and controllers (it supports Steam VR 2.0 and 1.0).
For $450, the Artisan features two 1700 x 1440 LCD panels with RGB stripe matrix panels (the Quest’s OLED (opens in new tab)panels are 1440 x 1600 each) with refresh rates of 72, 90 or 120Hz (the Quest is set to 72Hz). Its diagonal field of view (opens in new tab) is 170 degrees, and it has 6-degrees of freedom tracking and supports Steam VR 2.0 and 1.0.
VR gaming is starting to get simpler with standalone headsets and even HTC Vive moving away from base stations with the Vive Cosmos (opens in new tab). Although the Artisan needs a PC connection, that gaming PC (opens in new tab) requires just a GTX 1050 Ti (opens in new tab) or “AMD equivalent” or better. Pimax’s current cheapest headset, the 5K XR ($899 for just the headset), requires a PC running a GTX 1070 (opens in new tab) or AMD equivalent.
No release date was shared, but we’ll be chatting with Pimax at the CES tech show in Las Vegas this week, so stay tuned to see what else we learn about the Artisan.
Pimax Vision 5K Super
In addition to its entry-level headset, Pimax is still appealing to fans of premium VR with another new headset, the Pimax Vision 5K Super (pricing and release date wasn't shared). Each panel has QHD resolution (opens in new tab)with a full RGB matrix and a refresh rate of 90, 120, 160 or 180Hz, and with a response time as low as 9ms Pimax’s announcement pointed to first-person shooters as a good use case.
Pimax also announced that it’s boosting refresh rates across its VR headset line. This is partially due to today’s release of Brainwarp 2.0, which the vendor described as “technologies applied in VR headsets to lower hardware requirements, reduce latency and boost refresh rate for a much smoother VR experience.”
You can see general specs for Pimax’s VR headset portfolio, including the upcoming Artisan, below.
And for the majority of people who don't already have Vive/Index controllers and base stations, once you've added those, the cost of these units ends up more than double what an Oculus Rift would cost, or around triple the price of a decent Windows Mixed Reality headset like Samsung's Odyssey+, so these are not "entry-level" headsets in the least, and I would hardly call the pricing "pretty typical by today’s standards".