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Virtual Reality headsets ?

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Back to the subject, I have a Rift and while I'm happy with my purchase, I also think it's barely adequate for flight and racing simulations. You spend a lot of time squinting to identify things in the distance. You get used to it after a while, but coming from a 1440p screen it was a big step down. I recently tried to get back to screen, and two things brought me back to VR:

  1. Believe it or not, but I felt sick using TrackIR (OpenTrack, actually). The non 1-1 mapping of head movements with what you see on the screen threw me off. That was never a problem for me before I did VR, but now I would have to "relearn" TrackIR for it to feel comfortable again. To summarize: the 1-1 no-lag smooth head tracking is one of the biggest benefits of VR for immersion. And it comes of the box with the Rift, Vive and Windows MR, hassle-free.
  2. The lack of depth perception on screen makes the experience so much less enjoyable.

But I still really miss the comfort of vision on a screen. Nowadays I can't fly more than 2 hours at a time in VR, and even that is pretty tiring. It's just not very comfortable for your eyes to not see clearly at a distance. And maybe not very healthy either.


I've owned the Rift for half a year or so, and it has a number of shortcomings:

  1. Poor blacks. I often see people cite the quality of blacks as an advantage of OLED screens, which the Rift features. I don't get it. What I see is a very noisy grey picture, not a black picture. This affects flying at night in BOS. Although the search lights are an impressive sight, the rest of the environment isn't very nice looking.
  2. Poor whites. White is generated from red, blue and green sub-pixels. Very different colors. If the sub-pixels are too big, you sometimes become aware of those sub-pixels. Admittedly, this is a small issue, but one that upcoming headsets with higher resolution will address.
  3. Poor lenses. The view is clear in the middle, blurry in the sides. If you move your eyes you notice it. To have clear reading of your gauges, you have to move your head. It's not necessary in BOS because you can see the positions of needles well enough even when blurry, but it's a problem in e.g. DCS if you try to read the tiny labels over the clickable instruments
  4. Poor lenses (bis). High black/white contrasts create god rays: white rays bleeding over the entire screen. Not much of a problem in BOS, though, as the environment is typically not all black and white.
  5. Focus distance is 1.3m. Perfect if you have good vision or far-sighted, not so great if you are short-sighted. By the way, the lenses in the Rift are built so that they have a varying amount of correction. Adjust the vertical positioning of the lenses in front of your eyes and you should find a spot that fits you well (provided you don't need strong correction). That's a neat feature in theory, but in practice it's annoying. I find myself repositioning my HMD wherever I find the view too blurry. I feel I never really get it 100% right.
  6. Not enough room for glasses, no support for additional corrective lenses. There is support for 3rd-party additional lenses, that you put on top of the existing ones. But because there is no good mechanism to anchor them, they have a tendency to get loose whenever you move your head too much. Happens to me during dogfights, or when playing Echo Arena.
  7. Vendor lock-in. The Oculus store is a very convenient way to buy games, and there are a couple of very good games that are exclusive to it. It's a trap. Once you invested over $100 in Oculus Store home, you are kind of stuck there. Change HMD SteamVR and you lose access to your games, unless you use Revive. But nobody knows how long that will work, maybe some day Oculus decides to fight it. Personally I'm done buying things there. Steam or independent is the way to go for me now, with exceptions for exceptional Oculus content. Being tied to Oculus would not be a problem if they had communicated their plans for an improved CV2, but for now they haven't. Their current focus is on cheap devices accessible to the masses, and on GearVR. No much use for us simmers.

All of this is relative, of course. Are there HMDs out there that do better? The Vive is better on some accounts, worse on others. Pimax 4k isn't good enough on a number of points. Windows Mixed Reality have varying levels of quality, but at least the Samsung Odissey appears to be a clear improvement. Sadly not available in EU (why, oh why?!)


I don't have the Odissey, so I can't recommend it over the Rift or Vive, but we should know soon enough how well it compares. Below is the first in-depth review I've seen. To summarize: tracking better than expected, works OK although not perfect. Screen quality is good, better than Rift and Vive. Controllers are the weak point, but it's a minor issue if you plan to use it mostly for flying. And new better controllers will surely come.



Regarding the Pimax8k: It's still a few months away. If Pimax delivers, it will be so much ahead of anything else available to the public that there will be no reason to use anything else for simulations.

However, considering Pimax existing track record with software (fiddly, rough around the edges, newer versions worse than older versions), and the high cost of the device, I don't think it's a good headset to consider buying today, especially not if you are on a budget and this is your first step in VR.


By the way, you should expect that VR is something you'll probably want to throw lots of money if you get into it. It's too young and imperfect not to improve substantially over the years. Stay out of it until you have a stable income, if you haven't one already. You also need the best CPU and best GPU available to really enjoy it. You can do well enough today with 1-2 years old hardware, but you'll probably want to upgrade within the coming years. New CPU, new GPU, new motherboard, new HMD is what you can expect to spend money on the coming 3 years or so.


Considering the current game offering and devices, I think you can't go wrong with the Rift, Vive and the high-quality Windows MR devices (but stay away from the lower quality ones!). You are guaranteed an enjoyable breath-taking experience.

Edited by coconut
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I would be a little wary of the Pimax8K. This product has lofty claims that make me very critical. I welcome the competition to the market as things like this will likely motivate companies like Oculus to reduce their development cycle so they come to market faster. That said I think Pimax is a product you will want to be thoroughly reviewed prior to investing in it. Here is a good video from a trusted tech "geek" talking about the preview build he was able to test.



von Luck



Sorry but that is not a 'good' review to select. He tests a beat up well used/travelled v2 prototype. They are already up to v4 now and working on a v5 prior to production. Linus uploaded his video way after he tested it and actually drew some criticism for it as it gave the impression it was the most current design for those not in the loop on it's dev status. It wasn't. Even so, he was impressed he said in the vid.

Edited by Torso

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