Aukey Cortex 4K VR headset evaluation: Plenty of pixels at a low worth

Not sufficient decision is likely one of the commonest complaints concerning the present crop of VR headsets. They’re all kind of roughly 1080p (aka 2K), cut up between the 2 lenses. So I used to be actually when Aukey got here out with the Cortex 4K VR headset at $399.99 — considerably under the Rift or Vive. Nonetheless, whereas specs are one factor, actual world efficiency is one other. I’ve been taking an Aukey Cortex 4K by its paces. To date, my check outcomes have been combined.

Unboxing the Aukey Cortex 4K

The Aukey VR headset has a pretty typical design with detachable headphonesThe headset weighs in at 17.6 ounces — an oz heavier than the Rift and slightly over an oz lighter than the Vive. I discovered it straightforward to make use of over my prescription glasses, which was a pleasant profit. The unit is nicely put collectively, with aspect straps and a prime strap. You will get it with matching over-ear headphones, that plug into audio jacks on the unit. You assemble these by routing the straps by them. The headset itself is about the identical consolation stage as a DK2, however not fairly as good as a manufacturing Rift or Vive. Another reviewers complained concerning the hard-plastic nostril piece, however in my case it didn’t truly sit on my nostril in any respect, so it didn’t trouble me.

Cable-wise, the Cortex 4K has an HDMI and a USB cable. The USB cable is outwardly tremendous going into both USB 2 or USB three ports. Earlier than you begin utilizing the headset, it’s essential to obtain and set up the Piplay software program. It contains drivers for the system, in addition to an intermediate layer that enables it to work with some Steam and Oculus-native titles, and entry to the Piplay library of 3D and 360-degree content material. As soon as I disconnected my Oculus headset, the Piplay software program acknowledged the Cortex 4K instantly. It routinely prompted me to replace its firmware, which was fast and painless. One fast tip is that for full performance, you’ll wish to launch Piplay as Administrator.

A selection of Steam games can also be downloaded and launched from Piplay but you can also use the SteamVR software

The unit has 1000Hz twin gyroscopes, and a suitable 110-degree area of view. It will possibly function at as much as 60fps (or as much as 90fps in async mode). Nonetheless, the gyros have an 18ms response, which can have contributed to the movement points I felt whereas utilizing it. It seems to be basically equal to the Pimax 4K headset, and makes use of the identical software program. It will possibly function in Video mode (prolonged show), Direct Mode (extra trendy interface the place functions can drive it instantly), and Pimax mode (which is an enhanced model of Direct Mode that helps it do its emulation of different headsets).

If you happen to want to entry the help assets, you’ll discover that lots of them are in Chinese language. Luckily there’s an lively consumer group, so solutions to many frequent questions will be discovered by looking, however Aukey clearly hasn’t invested a lot in sprucing its consumer expertise for the English-speaking market.

Aukey Cortex VR

For picture high quality, 4K issues, but it surely isn’t all that issues

The excellent news is that 4K decision actually does assist remove the “display door” (seen pixels) downside that’s frequent with typical 2K VR headsets. Nonetheless, the picture on the Cortex isn’t as shiny as those I’m used to seeing on a Rift or Vive. Picture high quality additionally appeared to fall off sooner in the direction of the sides, however that’s fairly subjective. In some circumstances, there was additionally a refined vertical banding, however I couldn’t pin down what triggered it to be seen in sure video games or movies and never others.

The largest single downside of the Cortex 4K is that it doesn’t have full movement monitoring. The inner sensors can observe rotation, however there isn’t any monitoring of left-right, forward-back, or up-down movement of your head. You should utilize your sport controller to manually transfer your self, however in fact that isn’t the identical factor as transferring round and having your digital presence transfer with you. Meaning the Cortex is finest suited to 360-degree content material (which I’m defining right here as content material that has a hard and fast perspective), together with pictures and movies.

Piplay's Pimax offers a library of games but the headset can also play many Oculus and Steam compatible titles

Leisure, sure. Gaming, possibly not

The largest downside I had utilizing the Cortex 4K was an nearly on the spot queasiness when beginning a sport. I had a tough time ending greater than a pair laps in Mission Vehicles, for instance. With an Oculus Rift, I can drive for 20 or 30 minutes with none actual points. A part of the issue appears to be lag. The headset is rated as 60fps, the identical as a DK2, which doesn’t have this situation. Nevertheless it undoubtedly feels prefer it lags extra, and motion appears little extra jerky. The dearth of full movement monitoring in all probability additionally contributes.

This downside is pronounced for any sort of motion-based gaming. Now, I’m undoubtedly on the wimp aspect of the VR gaming scale with regards to movement points, so for hard-core avid gamers there might not be a downside. However for most individuals, the Cortex 4K will in all probability be extra helpful for leisure (360 movies and 3D films) than for any sort of critical gaming.

You can launch many Oculus titles directly on the Cortex from Piplay

Excessive marks for Steam and Oculus help, however 4K content material is missing

My testing of Steam and Oculus titles was undoubtedly not conclusive or exhaustive, however many of the ones I attempted appeared to run tremendous — with the limitation that you just don’t have movement monitoring or contact controllers, in fact. I wished to take a look at, because it options highly-immersive environments, however couldn’t get it to run with the Aukey. As I discussed above within the content material part, although, the native Oculus and Steam titles are geared toward 2K VR headsets, so don’t count on an enormous leap in picture high quality merely from them on a 4K show.

With out query, the 4K picture of the Cortex 4K helps remove the “display door” impact you possibly can see with typical 2K headsets. However that by itself doesn’t enhance the obvious picture decision. Whereas the headset does routinely upscale the picture to 4K, it isn’t ok to offer the standard of true 4K supply materials. For the reason that different main headsets are solely 2K, nearly all the net content material geared toward VR customers is at present solely out there in 2K (or much less) decision. There may be apparently additionally a driver and HDMI spec situation that makes it troublesome to get 4K experiences in full decision to the headset. Aukey is actively working with Nvidia on options.

The system’s native PiPlay library’s movies are a worst-case instance of the content material situation. A lot of the movies there are home made and look to be lower than 1080p. Consequently, they’re unimpressive. The library’s assortment of 3D films is best, however they aren’t full 360-degree content material, and solely play within the older Video mode that treats the headset as an prolonged show. Video in Steam and Oculus apps is certainly much less pixelated than when viewed through an Oculus or Vive, however definitely didn’t seem like it was utilizing the complete 4K decision natively. In racing video games, for instance, I had a greater sense of element within the distant background, but it surely wasn’t a dramatic distinction.

8K is next for Pimax and Aukey. They're starting a Kickstarter for an 8K unit with motion tracking soon.

Is the Aukey Cortex 4K best for you?

For my part, avid gamers are higher off saving up for a Rift or Vive with full movement monitoring and contact controllers. Particularly with the latest Rift worth cuts, it isn’t that rather more cash. You’ll additionally get a extra polished consumer expertise. Nonetheless, budget-conscious customers who wish to experiment with VR for leisure and want to get one thing extra highly effective than a Samsung Gear VR can avoid wasting cash and get a higher-resolution expertise with the Cortex 4K. Curiously, the corporate is already teasing a Kickstarter for its Cortex 8K, which will even function full movement monitoring.