Pimax launched a Kickstarter campaign for Portal, a handheld console with an accessory that turns it into a VR headset.
Pimax is a China-based startup most known for its 2017 Kickstarter for an ultra-wide field of view PC VR headset. This evolved into a sprawling lineup that’s been marked by long shipping delays, inconsistent quality, software issues, and customer service concerns. Despite the appeal of the field of view, its two most popular models are used by less than 0.21% of VR owners on Steam.
This is actually the third product Pimax has announced in its new “VR 3.0” family of standalone devices. All three are supposedly dual-mode, operating either standalone or via a PC. Last year it announced the Reality 12K headset with a 200° field of view, with preorders supposed to open in summer for a late 2022 launch. In summer – rather than opening those preorders – it announced the Crystal headset pitched as having the highest angular resolution of any consumer headset, which was originally supposed to ship before October. Neither Reality 12K nor Crystal have yet shipped, despite Pimax announcing this entirely new project.
Like Reality 12K and Crystal, Pimax claims Portal will feature the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 chip also found in Quest 2 and Pico 4. The console has a Nintendo Switch style design with detachable controllers, but the unique aspect here is it can slide into a VR headset shell and the controllers into VR controller shells.
Pimax claims Portal will have a 4K display and will run Android phone games, but with the advantage of active cooling for sustained performance and physical controls in titles that support them. The rear has five cameras – four on the corners for positional tracking and one in the center for mixed reality.
Pimax says the base model of the Portal console with 128GB storage will be priced at $300, a 256GB model at $400, and a model with a HDR QLED display for $550. A bundle with the VR headset accessory will be priced at $450 for the regular LCD model, or $600 for the QLED model.
The VR headset accessory is supposed to come with two sets of lenses: 100° lenses for general VR, and 60° to give higher angular resolution for watching movies. To supplement the console’s 4000mAh battery, the headset has a 6000mAh rear battery which also acts as a counter-balance.
Pimax is also promising two higher end VR headset shells in future. ‘Portal Social’ is supposed to have facial tracking cameras, while ‘Portal Horizon’ is supposed to have 140° lenses for enhanced immersion.
Pimax repeatedly pitches new products before delivering on what it already promised. The company recently requested the inclusion of UploadVR’s logo in its upcoming Kickstarter campaign. We declined, and instead requested hardware we could test for review. A representative replied over email “temporarily, the review units probably cannot come out on time.”
“We are planning the roadshows, at that time, we will take the products to US, should you have interest to experience the new products with the perfectly tuned on site, please do not hesitate to tell us,” the email from Pimax explained.
Given the company’s history of repeatedly missing its shipping targets we recommend extreme caution before pledging your money. Kickstarter is not a preorder system, and there’s no guarantee you’ll actually get what you pledged for.
Article originally published November 9th, updated to reflect the Kickstarter campaign going live.