Pimax today announced the Pimax Crystal, a new headset that’s broadly similar to the company’s upcoming Pimax “12K” QLED headset, but with a few features pared back and a reduced price. Though the price is lower at $1,900, it still puts the headset well into the ‘ultra-enthusiast’ category, positioning it as a direct competitor to Varjo’s Aero headset.

Just a half a year before it’s set to launch its flagship Pimax “12K” QLED headset, Pimax today introduced another, similar headset, which it says will launch in Q3, just a few months before the “12K” QLED.

Pimax Crystal has many of the same ambitious features: standalone processing with PC compatibility, eye-tracking, ultra-high resolution, support for a WiGig wireless module, high refresh rate, inside-out tracking, and more. What sets it apart from its more expensive sibling is a somewhat lower resolution and a lower field-of-view.

While the $2,400 Pimax “12K” QLED aims for an ultra-high resolution and an ultra-wide 240° diagonal field-of-view, Pimax Crystal lowers both, but claims to maintain a very high 42PPD with a 120° diagonal field-of-view, or 35PPD with a 140° field-of-view—the choice is up to the user, thanks to interchangeable lenses, one of the headset’s unique features.

Image courtesy Pimax

Priced at $1,900, the Pimax Crystal appears to be looking to compete directly with Varjo’s ultra-enthusiast Aero headset, which is priced at $2,000 (but doesn’t include controllers or required tracking base stations). On the other hand, Pimax says the Crystal will include headset-tracked controllers and inside-out tracking out of the box at the $1,900 price point.

An optional $200 SteamVR Tracking faceplate will be offered at launch, and the company says it’s working on a stereo camera faceplate for color passthrough, though price and availability have not been announced.

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Here’s a full breakdown of the Pimax Crystal specs:

Pimax Reality Crystal Specs
Display 2,880 × 2,880 (8.3MP) per-eye, QLED + mini-LED (1x), HDR
Refresh Rate 160Hz
Lenses Aspheric (glass)
Field-of-view (claimed) 120° or 140 diagonal (depending on lens configuration)
Processor Snapdragon XR2
RAM Unknown
Storage Unknown
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E, optional 60GHz add-on
Connectors Unknown
Battery Life Unknown (6,000mAh)
Optical Adjustments IPD (automatic motor driven), eye-relief (12–20mm), diopter (0–7)
IPD Adjustment Range 58–72mm
Connectors DisplayPort
Cable Length Unknown
Tracking Inside-out (no external beacons), optional SteamVR Tracking add-on
On-board cameras 4x head/hand/controller-tracking, 2x eye-tracking
Input Included headset-tracked controllers, optionally compatible with SteamVR Tracking controllers
Audio In-headstrap speakers, optional off-ear speakers
Microphone Unknown
Pass-through view Optional add-on
Weight Unknown

While Pimax says it wants to offer a ‘no compromise’ experience for its customers, the Crystal headset reaffirms the company’s affinity for introducing multiple, modular headset models that force customers to choose between an array of overlapping features and capabilities; it’s unclear why the company is planning to launch the Crystal in Q3, just a few months before the “12K” QLED in Q4.

In any case, we’ll certainly be impressed if Pimax manages to deliver everything it’s promising with these ambitious headsets.


Note: We put the “12K” part of the Pimax 12K QLED name in quotes because Pimax isn’t referring to the same 12K that is often used to describe TVs and monitors. The headset’s total horizontal resolution is near 12K, but this is split across each eye. Additionally, the resolution height is just half the height of what one would expect from a 12K TV. When referring to the headset’s name, we put “12K” in quotes to help our readers understand that it’s being used differently than they might expect.

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  • George Moonman

    Great, a whole load of new features from a company that hasn’t even properly fixed any of their existing products yet.
    Hard pass, thanks.

    • Arno van Wingerde

      Hm… let’s see what happens first, OK?
      like you, I am not tempted to pre-order one of these. But if you have money to spare this might be the ultimate VR experience.
      My major question, apart from whether they can deliver a flawless experience is how these features are supported and what kind of PC you need to drive this monster… 2x4090Ti or so? As for the optical correction: I need more than 7 diopter correction AND a cylindrical correction, pop-on lenses might be better for me.

      • Dave

        Running 2,880 × 2,880 shouldn’t be too bad although I’ll caveat that later. Varjo Aero runs at 2880 × 2720 per eye and you can run that on a RTX 3090 without motion reprojection support in a demanding title like MSFS ok. The caveat though is if you want to use motion reprojection and I suspect that will be a must have, if you don’t buy the steam faceplate, what will that be like, it will probably suck?

  • Bob

    “In any case, we’ll certainly be impressed if Pimax manages to deliver everything it’s promising with these ambitious headsets.”

    Come on Ben, you know the drill by now (with Pimax). Expect delays and disappointment.

    • Charles

      I think that was his way of saying that nicely.

    • Adrian Meredith

      And for them to announce a new headset to replace the problems of the previous one

  • Duane Aakre

    When I see the word ‘standalone’ it implies to me that it will have a store of standalone apps – a la Quest. I don’t see any discussion of what these will be.

    • mappo

      The are launching a “Pimax Store” for standalone apps to go with this, but they don’t appear to have anyone on board for it yet. They showed a Minecraft clone and a Beat Saber clone in their launch video, it was pretty embarrasing.

  • Rainy

    After using the Varjo Aero (in a professional capacity) and its terrible lenses, I’m concerned about their use of aspheric lenses in this headset. Everyone in my office said the Aero’s worst feature were the lenses, with their terrible fov and nauseating fish eye effect (We even prefered the Vive Pro 2’s lenses, and those are honestly terrible as they did not account for any distortion when stacking the lenses which is why it looks “off”) I was hoping for pancake lenses, and would have even been fine with fresnel since it’s going to be a thick headset regardless.

    • Lhorkan

      Considering Pimax’s history of heavy distortion with their previous models, I’m also quite anxious about this. All the pixels in the world don’t help if you get sick from looking at them.

    • kontis

      I wonder how far it’s possible to push FOV using pancake lenses.

      Obviously everyone targets the around 100 deg standard and it’s not like they can go further with micro displays, but it would be nice to have at last one brave company push for larger screens with pancakes.

      • Sofian

        200°

    • kraeuterbutter

      hmm.. strange
      friend of mine has used several headsets over the last 5 years
      now he has the aero and sold every other headset
      he is realy realy happy with the Aero
      next level as he says

      for the vive Pro 2 part: yes.. “somthing off” describs it good..
      reason i had to return it
      (also experience with 9 different headsets over the years.. the vive Pro 2 was a big disappointment for me)

      for the Aero: did you have the latest updates ?
      there where some (biggeR) improvements, distortion wise etc.

      • Charles

        I think the main reason why it seems like “something off” with the Vive Pro 2 is because it has extremely low Binocular Overlap. Made me feel cross-eyed.

  • Tommy

    Sounds nice but WAY out of my price range

  • A guy

    I have the Pimax 8k and I wear glasses.

    I was very disappointed to discover that the 8k did not have built-in adjustments so eyeglass-wearers could go without. As a consequence, my eyes must stay a farther distance away, as my eyeglass lenses take up several millimeters between the 8k lens as my eyes. The result being that I’m forced to look through “binoculars” a bit more than a person with normal vision.

    Pimax, for your pricepoints, I’d expect you to offer such a simple solution. You already do left-right, up-down adjustments via software, is it too hard to do in-out lens movements?

  • James Cobalt

    Leadership is unable to stay focused. There are companies with far more resources focusing on far fewer VR SKUs (often just one).

    • Bob

      I don’t think “leadership” exists with this company for starters.

  • mike j Larry

    Crazy , no games ,apps or anything . I dont get who is buying this without having backup and support , can you play quest , rift , vive and steam games and apps with this

    • Polacken

      Lol yes Steam vr and oculus games are supported. Like the old pimax headsets

  • Cless

    Maaaan, having VR OLED starting to comeback to the market… I really won’t spend 2k on a headset that lacks them, even if QLED is a step in the right direction. Anything that isn’t grey boring LCDs like 99% of the headsets in the market at the moment is a good thing though.

    • ZeePee

      Agreed. I will continue with 100° FoV atm if it means I get micro oled and small and light form factor.

      Looking at the meganex. Higher PPD than the reverb G2. Glasses form factor. Micro oled, HDR. That will be incredible.

      • Cless

        Yeah, not to say that Sony is getting in with their (probably) great OLED panels… a suposedly low/mid tier headset for a console…

        • ZeePee

          Great point! Sony knew not to compromise on there. Its amazing to see the “budget” solution do it.

          We will look back at LCD VR and cringe. Sony is forward thinking. PSVR2 will probably be for the rest of the PS5 life cycle, another 6 years or so. In 2 years time, it’ll all be micro oled / oled. And PSVR2 will be just as relevant as it is today. Whereas any LCD headset will be antiquated.

          • Bob

            LCD VR isn’t going anywhere anytime soon especially as BOE recently developed a relatively cheap super high density panel for VR use-cases. The market isn’t developed enough for companies to start investing time or money into AMOLED panels (super expensive) into a novel product such as a VR headset. If the profit margins aren’t there, companies will not push forward with the cutting edge; they will use the cheapest and best value components such as globally-lit LCD (no localized dimming, no HDR).
            The only exception is Meta who have the resources and manpower to take the brunt, dig in their heels and do much of the heavy lifting of creating a thriving and sustainable market in order to justify the usage of cutting-edge components.

          • Cless

            That is true, but we have to take into consideration that the screen door effect is really nonexistent after one point, and increasing resolution over 2K panels is really diminishing returns, specially while foveated rendering isn’t the norm and implemented. Many people will much rather have a bright and heavily contrasted HDR OLED panel at 2k and 120hz, than a LCD with average colors, and mediocre contrast at 3 or 4K. Image quality does matter after all, and black levels in VR… they literally are what separates good immersion from “I feel like I strapped a 2004 LCD monitor to my face in a dark room” kind of vibe.

          • Bob

            “Many people will much rather have a bright and heavily contrasted HDR OLED panel at 2k and 120hz, than a LCD with average colors, and mediocre contrast at 3 or 4K.”

            No they don’t have a preference because they don’t know any better or they simply don’t care. The people you are actually referring to are a vocal minority of technology enthusiasts and internet lurkers such as those on here which also includes the both of us. The standard consumer has absolutely no idea of the things you have just mentioned; refresh rates, HDR, black levels.

            By your logic, the “majority” of people would be purchasing OLED TVs simply for the sake of HDR and perfect black levels. The reality is that they aren’t doing this because they don’t understand what those features are nor do they care to understand and are simply satisfied with purchasing the cheapest 4K resolution TV they can find (LCD). This applies to the VR market as well hence why the Quest 2 is the leading VR product by a drastic margin compared to all other products; it’s extremely affordable for the standard consumer.

          • Cless

            I never said a majority of people, I said many people, and by that, I meant the people that tend to spend 1000$ or more in VR headsets… which in their majority is… us, right?

            The majority will get whatever its trendy or cheap like you said, just like the Quest 2. It was cheap enough and good enough to be bought by a lot of people, and probably the same will happen with PSVR2, which hopefully will teach some people about the goodness of HDR and OLED displays. This same people won’t care so much about the 3k or 4k displays when “The 2K looks better”. Similar to what happened with over saturated AMOLEDS on the first phones. The color accuracy was trash, but compared to shitty LCDs of the time, it had so much intensity people loved it.

          • Charles

            LCD can be good enough if it dynamically adjusts the backlight level to the overall scene, as the Vive Pro 2 does (but has unacceptably low Binocular Overlap).

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Meganex, a headset that was slated for release in spring 2022, but never heard of since SEC, so I doubt we’ll be seeing that one on the consumer market any time soon.

    • Charles

      QLED is essentially just as good as OLED in regards to contrast and black levels. No, the numbers aren’t the same, but practically they are, especially considering you can’t use unlimited black levels on OLED in many scenarios without black smear (requires hardware limit or OpenVR software limit).

      • Cless

        I mean… Yeah, if you compare the old OLED VR panels with a current QLED.. But compared to the new hdr OLED panels the story changes.
        QLED might be brighter though, we will have to check the numbers when we have the specs.

  • ZeePee

    From what I understand, Pimax headsets are very uncomfortably on the eyes for a lot of people.

    Particularly those with smaller ipd. So a lot of people including myself likely can’t use their headsets due to discomfort.

    Add to that the ridiculous weight (I mean these things are approaching 1kg), and the LCD display (mininled fine, better, but still not going to be the oled experience).

    I don’t think I’ll ever be getting a Pimax headset until they solve all these issues, no matter how inticing the specs may sound.

    I’ll wait for whoever innovates here and delivers a wide FoV pancake lens high res oled headset. It would be a thin visor. That would be epic.

  • Maurice

    I hear people giving Pimax a lot of crap every time they are mentioned. A big part of it is deserved. It’s a Chinese company who lack A LOT in terms of communication, product lineup and out-of-the-box consumer experience.

    However, I think it would be fair to nuance it a bit sometimes.

    For example; I’m a huge VR fan ever since Oculus DK1. I have owned many and tried almost every consumer headset available. But since I recieved my Pimax 5K+ from the kickstarter, I have never looked back. There is just nothing that even comes close the huge FOV of the Pimax. Having peripheral vision in VR is a difference between night and day.
    It definitely took quite a bit of tweaking and testing to get it working correctly. I think their products and software are not “consumer ready” yet in terms of user friendliness. I would not recommend the Pimax to just anyone. But for the enthousiast who doesn’t mind to tweak things a bit, the FOV is *crazy* good.

    Any possible downsides there might theoretically be because of the type of screen or lens don’t matter once you get the huge FOV.

    I won’t be getting a Pimax Reality, mainly because the 5K+ still makes me so happy to this day.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      I haven’t got much hope on the Reality being a good headset, as they don’t seem to put any effort in getting their current headsets better support. They seem to crank out a lot of different versions instead on focussing on one or 2 SKU’s in getting them to work properly without having to be a tweaker. At this point they should first iron out all the bugs and anomalies of their current headsets before releasing another.

  • Dave

    “which is priced at $2,000 (but doesn’t include controllers or required tracking base stations)”

    LOL, assuming this is the Aero, they must mean ‘and requires’ instead of ‘or required’.