Pimax Portal View: Hands-On Demo Shows Incomplete Software & Hardware
At CES 2023 we tested a sample of the Pimax View VR holder attachment for its Portal handheld gaming system.
The hybrid system ends its two-month fundraising push on Kickstarter this week with Pimax claiming January 2023 delivery to “certain countries” of its “View VR Headset” alongside the “Pimax Portal Handheld” and 1 pair “VR Controller Sleeve”. Pimax promises pledges starting around $450 receive the full handheld and VR kit.
For those unfamiliar, Pimax Portal is pitched as something similar to Nintendo Switch’s Labo VR toy or the Daydream View. Portal is a handheld game system promised as having a pair of Joy-Con-like controllers that detach and slip into sleeves converting them into 6DoF tracked controllers. The handheld itself slips into a View VR head strap which, together, is supposed to become a full VR system. Below is a promotional image from Pimax showing just the handheld portion of their crowdfunding promise for a pledge of around $300.
Below is a frame from Pimax’ Kickstarter video showing the full VR system with the handheld controllers slipped into sleeves and the screen slipped into its own head-mounted accessory.
At CES 2023 in Las Vegas we visited Pimax’ booth and asked to test the Portal View VR mode. I wanted to use the controllers shown above mounted in the sleeves so UploadVR could test the input and tracking. While Pimax had controllers at its booth resembling those in the video (seen at left in the photo below), company representatives told UploadVR they weren’t ready for testing in VR. Despite Pimax’ claims of shipping in January, the View VR mode for the Portal handheld was shown with the dedicated Touch-like controllers seen at right in the photo below.
The headset didn’t seem overly front-heavy but it was hard to assess other elements of the experience due to the current state of tracking. I tried two pieces of VR content with the Portal View head strap and dedicated controllers — Open Brush and a scene where I was overlooking a canyon. In both pieces of software tracking failed spectacularly. In Open Brush, I was able to use the dedicated controllers to draw lines in space but as I moved my head the artwork didn’t reposition correctly much of the time. In the canyon, despite intending to stand in place, my view flew in a line over the canyon.
“The VR controller sleeve is also ready for mass production,” the “Risks” section of Pimax’ Kickstarter page claims. “The entire View VR Kit will be ready during the kickstarter campaign.”
CES 2023 Pimax Portal View and demo controllers, photo by UploadVR.
Pimax’ history is marked by long shipping delays, inconsistent quality, software issues, and customer service concerns such that UploadVR recommends extreme caution before pledging money to the company. Our demo at CES 2023 mismatching with Pimax’ Kickstarter claims quoted above reaffirms our recommendation. We emailed a Pimax representative for comment and will update this post if we receive clarification about the company’s plans.