The Pimax Portal Virtual Reality Headset
The Pimax Portal hybrid virtual reality headset has been described as the “Nintendo Switch of VR headsets”. It consists of a handheld device much like the Nintendo Switch which can be transformed into a 6DoF VR headset.
The Pimax Portal is an amalgam of an Android gaming console and a complete virtual reality headset package.
The Kickstarter campaign for the Portal headset was launched in November 2022. The headset was pitched as “the world’s first metaverse entertainment system” due to its array of accessories that can transform it into a Quest 2-like virtual reality headset, a bigger handheld or a home console.
The Pimax headset ships with a main console along with a virtual reality headset that will hold the main console. It also ships with detachable controllers that come with console attachments, virtual reality attachments, along with a dock.
The headset also features detachable Nintendo Switch Style controllers with their own attachments for virtual reality mode and handheld game mode.
Pimax pitched its Portal device as a true all-in-one and multipurpose product. It is a versatile proposition for end users. On top of its impressive spec, users have the flexibility of using it in various modes including the handheld gaming mode, a docked gaming mode on, for cloud/stream gaming as well as a virtual reality headset. You can find detailed information on the headset on the Pimax Portal Kickstarter page.
Pimax Launching the First Metaverse Entertainment System
Pimax is hoping to ride some of the metaverse hype to generate interest in its products. The Pimax setup can technically be used for metaversal experiences although it is not specifically built for virtual reality experiences alone.
The Pimax Portal headset has an excellent screen suited for handheld gaming console applications and which also comes in handy when it is used in the virtual reality mode. The device has a 5.5-inch 4K QLED screen. The screen has a refresh rate of 144Hz for optimal clarity.
The device also packs a Snapdragon Qualcomm XR2 chip which it gives it considerable computing power for all gaming and virtual reality applications. It can handle the heavy stuff. The chip runs 8 cores 64 bit at 2.84Ghz.
The Portal is an 8.8-inch device. If you add the controllers, it is slightly bigger in size than the Nintendo Switch Lite. Pimax Portal features 32 physical buttons on it.
Here is an overview of the device’s features: –
The Main Android Device
The main Android device is the “Portal” piece of hardware which is essentially an Android tablet powered by a Snapdragon Qualcomm XR2 and with a 5.5-inch screen.
The Portal is the main gaming console. It can be attached to the Switch-style controllers. It also doubles as the main for virtual reality that is slid into the VR headset.
The Portal features five built-in cameras when used for virtual reality. It is also able to track the user when it is docked in front of the TV.
Pimax says the device can be used for virtual workouts with this option. The handheld mode also enables the device to be put to augmented reality uses.
The Pimax Portal device has Nintendo Switch-style detachable controllers with a magnetic lock for strapping these in place on the Android device. These controllers will also double as virtual reality controllers. They can be detached from the main device and placed inside the plastic hand accessories. The controllers connect to the main device via Bluetooth.
Pimax Mini Station
The handheld device also includes an external consolizer for enhancing its performance. The company describes the Pimax Mini Station as an “offboard processor and operating system for Portal”. However, this is not the device’s main operating system. It is an external booster that aids in the streaming and additional processing functions in virtual reality.
This is the dock for connecting the Portal handheld device to a television and using it as a gaming console.
The virtual reality headset does not include any built-in screens and tech. It has been designed for sliding the main Portal console into the headset.
The virtual reality headset also ships with interchangeable lenses for modifying the viewing angles.
When switching the handheld device to virtual reality, the user toggles the VR launcher from the home screen of the Portal, slides the controllers from the Portal, and slides the handheld into one of Pimax’s Portal View accessories.
The biggest difference from other headsets will be in the field of view (FOV) when you wear it. There are options for 60, 100 and 140-degree FOVs although you will have to make tradeoffs on the pixel density depending on the options that you go for.
This can complicate the process of choosing what you will want for Portal. However, the system works seamlessly as expected. The Portal could replace Pimax’s higher-end headsets such as the Pimax Portal. You would choose the Portal device over Crystal if its VR functionality is more of a nice-to-have rather than your primary reason for buying the headset. Its 4K screen is definitely impressive for VR applications.
However, the Portal still has some disadvantages as a VR device. Many consumers would simply for a fully-featured standalone VR headset like Quest 2, which also costs roughly $430, than grapple with the fiddliness of setting up the Pimax Portal. Besides, Pimax doesn’t have the robust content library that Meta and Steam offer although the company is taking measures to ramp up its content production after recent fundraising. However, it will take time and considerable investments for the company to build a content library that could compete with the major players in the industry.
The VR Controller Accessories
The accessories consist of plastic holders into which the Nintendo Switch-style controllers slip and are transformed into your virtual reality controllers.
Pimax Portal Specifications
According to information on its Kickstarter page, the Pimax Portal has the following specifications: –
- Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor
- Five built-in cameras for virtual reality tracking
- Television dock
- Bluetooth 5.1/5g.Wifi6E
- 8 cores 64 bit
- 7nm process technology
- 5-inch 4K QLED + MiniLED + HDR screen with a resolution of 2560×1600 and a refresh rate of 120Hz
- A 10,000 mAh battery (consisting of a 4000 mAh built-in and an optional 6000 mAh external battery)
- Has an AMD Mini Station (external dock)
- Virtual reality headset and controllers
- G-sensor, Gyroscope and Proximity Sensor
- Storage Options: 8g +128g or 8g +256g
Pimax Portal Pricing
The Pimax Portal headset is available in a number of Kickstarter packages. The base console of the headset starts from $299. At this price, the device is accessible for the Android gaming scene. However, the base package does not ship with the VR attachments.
There is the $449 package which packs all the accessories/attachments required to use the Portal as a virtual reality system. This price is also quite affordable for the VR market.
When shopping for the Pimax Portal device, it is important to keep in mind that it is an Android tablet that can be inserted into a custom VR headset rather than a standalone VR headset like the Meta Quest 2 or Valve Index headsets. This package is the most premium version in the setup.
The above two introductory packages do not come with a QLED display.
The package with the QLED display technology costs $549 for the console-only version. The full VR setup will cost you $599.
Pimax is also keen on building up its store to fully leverage the capabilities of bits Portal and Pimax Crystal devices. The company has recently unveiled several incentives for developers, including a 100% revenue share for its store.