Pimax today revealed a breathtaking new headset which it plans to release sometime in 2022. The Pimax Reality 12K QLED is probably the most advanced headset that we’ll hear about for a while, unless Oculus has something truly unexpected up its sleeve for later this week.
Pimax is constantly pushing the limits of what it can squeeze into a VR headset. Still, it’s hard to imagine what Pimax has planned is even possible with today’s tech. The Pimax Reality 12K QLED is smaller and lighter than previous models, and has a broader field of view and higher-resolution displays than even the company’s current flagship headset, the Vision 8K X. To top things off, it’s powered by an internal processor, giving it standalone capability.
A True Flagship Device
The Pimax Reality 12K QLED headset features dual 6K QLED, panels with mini-LED backlighting and 4400 elements for local dimming. Pimax said the headset features a wholly reimagined lens design, eliminating distortion and refractions and giving you edge-to-edge clarity. Pimax said the construction is a mix of Fresnel and aspheric lenses, and the company is calling them Bionic lenses.
Pimax increased the horizontal field of view (FOV) in the new headset by 30-degrees compared to the last generation, giving you a whole 210-degree viewing angle. The vertical FOV is also larger, now 135-degrees, which is more vertical vision than most human eyes can perceive.
To help improve performance on such high-resolution displays, Pimax has partnered with Tobii to integrate Tobii’s eye-tracking technology into all future Pimax headsets. The eye-tracking cameras can facilitate foveated rendering, which can dramatically improve VR rendering performance (Qualcomm says 2-3x) to allow for such high-resolution displays.
Along with the eye-tracking hardware, the Pimax Reality 12K QLED includes motorized IPD adjustment. Like with the Varjo Aero, when you put on the Reality 12K QLED, it will run an eye calibration process to ensure your eyes are lined up perfectly with the displays. Pimax said there would be a manual override button for calibration, but it’s unclear if it enables manual lens adjustment or manual triggering of the auto-calibration process.
PCVR Hybrid Headset
With specifications like those described above, you would likely think the Pimax Reality 12K OLED would be a tethered PC VR headset. But as noted up top, it's not. Incredibly, Pimax stuck a Qualcomm XR-2 chip inside the Reality 12K QLED headset, enabling you to use it as a standalone device without a computer.
The Reality 12K fits in a new category that Pimax calls a PCVR Hybrid. A PCVR Hybrid device gives you the best of both worlds, allowing for tethered PC use or standalone operation. When operating as a standalone device, the headset can run Android-based VR games, just like an Oculus Quest 2 or Vive Focus 3.
The headset can also accept a direct signal from your GPU via two Display Port 1.4 connections, or stream content from your PC through Wi-Fi 6 or WiGig.
With the change to a standalone configuration also comes a change to the way Pimax handles tracking. The current lineup of Pimax headsets pairs with Valve’s SteamVR tracking technology, and Pimax sells Valve’s Index controllers to complement its ultrawide headsets.
With the Reality 12K QLED, Pimax made the switch to optical SLAM-based tracking for headset positioning. The new headset will ship with a pair of optically tracked Pimax Sword controllers.
Pimax says it will also offer an accessory that would add SteamVR sensors to the headset for anyone who needs the extreme precision that Valve’s tracking solution provides.
Facial Expression and Body Tracking
The Pimax Reality 12K QLED headset comes equipped with several biometric tracking systems that allow you to bring your full expression into the game. In addition to the eye-tracking cameras, the 12K OLED includes face tracking cameras mounted on either side of the visor. It also supports mouth tracking, and even body tracking. A set of cameras on the bottom of the visor can detect your arm and leg movement, as well as your torso position.
Advanced Technology Doesn’t Come Cheap
The specs of the Reality 12K QLED are incredible, but you may want to be sitting for the next bit. Pimax says the price will be $2399 when the headset launches late next year. The company is at least planning to offer a discount to anyone who already owns a Pimax device. You can credit the full purchase price as a discount on a 12K QLED.
Pimax is planning to attend CES this year, and the company said that it would have more to announce about its future hardware in January at the event.
Kevin Henderson, COO of Pimax, told us that the current announcement is just the beginning. The 12K QLED model represents the pinnacle of Pimax’s next-generation hardware, and just like the Vision series, Pimax intends to have several products in its Reality line. We expect to see more-affordable Pimax Reality headsets in the future, but when that may be is anyone’s guess.
If you're concerned about the price of the new flagship headset, at least you have about a year to save up. Pimax says the Reality 12K QLED will be available in Q4 2022.