Aukey Cortex 4K VR headset overview: Lots of pixels at a low value

Not sufficient decision is among the most typical complaints concerning the present crop of VR headsets. They’re all kind of roughly 1080p (aka 2K), break 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 beneath 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 way of its paces. To this point, my check outcomes have been blended.

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 just a little 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 effectively put collectively, with aspect straps and a prime strap. You may get it with matching over-ear headphones, that plug into audio jacks on the unit. You assemble these by routing the straps by way of them. The headset itself is about the identical consolation degree 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 really 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 seemingly positive going into both USB 2 or USB three ports. Earlier than you begin utilizing the headset, it is advisable to obtain and set up the Piplay software program. It contains drivers for the machine, in addition to an intermediate layer that permits 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 mechanically 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 subject of view. It could 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 primarily equal to the Pimax 4K headset, and makes use of the identical software program. It could function in Video mode (prolonged show), Direct Mode (extra fashionable interface the place functions can drive it immediately), and Pimax mode (which is an enhanced model of Direct Mode that helps it do its emulation of different headsets).

Should you want to entry the assist assets, you’ll discover that lots of them are in Chinese language. Happily there’s an lively person group, so solutions to many widespread questions will be discovered by looking out, however Aukey clearly hasn’t invested a lot in sharpening its person 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 get rid of the “display door” (seen pixels) drawback that’s widespread with typical 2K VR headsets. Nonetheless, the picture on the Cortex isn’t as vibrant 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 instances, there was additionally a delicate vertical banding, however I couldn’t pin down what brought on it to be seen in sure video games or movies and never others.

The most important single disadvantage of the Cortex 4K is that it doesn’t have full movement monitoring. The interior sensors can comply with rotation, however there isn’t any monitoring of left-right, forward-back, or up-down movement of your head. You should utilize your recreation 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. Which means the Cortex is greatest suited to 360-degree content material (which I’m defining right here as content material that has a hard and fast perspective), together with images 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 most important drawback I had utilizing the Cortex 4K was an virtually prompt queasiness when beginning a recreation. I had a tough time ending greater than a pair laps in Mission Automobiles, 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 problem. But it surely positively feels prefer it lags extra, and motion appears little extra jerky. The shortage of full movement monitoring in all probability additionally contributes.

This drawback is pronounced for any sort of motion-based gaming. Now, I’m positively on the wimp aspect of the VR gaming scale in relation to movement points, so for hard-core players there will not be a drawback. 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 assist, however 4K content material is missing

My testing of Steam and Oculus titles was positively not conclusive or exhaustive, however many of the ones I attempted appeared to run positive — with the limitation that you simply don’t have movement monitoring or contact controllers, in fact. I needed 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 aimed toward 2K VR headsets, so don’t count on a giant soar in picture high quality merely from them on a 4K show.

With out query, the 4K picture of the Cortex 4K helps get rid of the “display door” impact you may see with typical 2K headsets. However that by itself doesn’t enhance the obvious picture decision. Whereas the headset does mechanically upscale the picture to 4K, it isn’t adequate to offer the standard of true 4K supply materials. Because the different main headsets are solely 2K, virtually all the net content material aimed toward VR customers is presently solely accessible in 2K (or much less) decision. There may be apparently additionally a driver and HDMI spec problem that makes it tough to get 4K experiences in full decision to the headset. Aukey is actively working with Nvidia on options.

The machine’s native PiPlay library’s movies are a worst-case instance of the content material problem. Many of the movies there are selfmade 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 actually didn’t seem like it was utilizing the total 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?

In my view, players are higher off saving up for a Rift or Vive with full movement monitoring and contact controllers. Particularly with the current Rift value cuts, it isn’t that rather more cash. You’ll additionally get a extra polished person 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. Apparently, the corporate is already teasing a Kickstarter for its Cortex 8K, which may also characteristic full movement monitoring.