VirtualDesktop, VRToolbox, OVRDrop, Bigscreen - Results with Pimax Vision 8kX

tldr

Extremely impressive. Truly huge virtual screens can built up at very near typical monitor resolutions.

VRToolbox provides by far the sharpest text, the best color quality, and is quickest to rearrange.
VirtualDesktop, VRToolbox, BigScreen, WorkInVR, and OVRToolkit are visually competitive with typical real monitors.
OVRDrop is not quite as sharp, built-in supersampling would help. Please consider supporting and encouraging the developer!

VRToolbox, VirtualDesktop, BigScreen, and OVRDrop are recommended. Each does a specific job well. As a set, they comprehensively cover the functionality users need.

A few hours of use are needed to develop an improved ability to read fine details in the headset.

Pixels/subpixels/SDE are usually entirely absent or very difficult to observe.

_

Alternate Hardware
Many gaming laptops should be able to drive these VR desktop/overlay apps.

Beware many DisplayPort headless ghost devices do NOT claim 4k@60Hz, apparently instead 4k@17Hz. Use adapters. This combination I have tested.

Reference Hardware

  • Pimax Vision 8kX
  • Desktop monitor, 65inch 4k, 24inch from eyes.

These items will be referred to as ‘headset’ and ‘monitor’.

Common
Pixelation

  • Physical pixels, aka Screen Door Effect (SDE), in the form of pixelation at high supersampling, are only visible on thin objects with exceptionally high contrast (ie. thin white line on black background).
  • Color sub-pixels (ie. RGB stripe) are not observable.

Sweet Spot / Optical Center

  • Blurring, >35% towards lens edges. Fine text becomes hard to read.
  • Chromatic abberation, >40% towards lens edges. Large white mouse cursor, black background, being the worst case. Slight rainbow effect.
  • Head movement imposed is similar to that already typical, as one would already be disinclined to read a document with their head turned away from it.

Learning curve - after a few hours of use human eyes seem to develop a much better ability to read fine details in the headset.

Brightness - as with any large display up close, bright white can cause serious eyestrain for some users. Turning down brightness slightly one way or another helps prevent this. Nevertheless, a high brightness backlight is a desirable to have when appropriate.

VRToolbox
Clarity and color quality are particularly outstanding, due to built-in postprocessing filters, well beyond 80% of monitor.

Both supersampling and an image sharpening filter are included. Moderate use of the image sharpening filter goes beyond what supersampling can achieve, apparently countering blur occurring in the headset itself.

This is a compelling demonstration of why a basic, cheap image sharpening filter should be available for VR users to force on their applications at the driver level.

Arrangement of virtual screens can be done by pointing at them with the controllers and using touchpads. This is much more efficient than having to reach out and grab them directly, especially if there are obstructions in the physical space used.

As an app to sit back and do some work, this is the best.

VirtualDesktop
Clarity is as good as one would expect on the Pimax 8kX, about 80% of monitor.

Multiple monitors are joined together according to the layout specified in MSW settings. Speaking “Reset Orientation” brings it to focus. Any lack of sharpness due to SteamVR Video resolution settings can be quickly corrected by adjusting a single slider on the front page.

As an app to quickly get a view of the desktop for launching other VR apps or support programs, this is the best.

VirtualDesktop Dashboard
Not extensively tested.

BigScreen
Clarity of private screens, placed optimally, is on par with other solutions.

Hosts will still need to manage shared screens placed far away in cinema environments for text readability. This will inevitably remain the case as human eyes and headsets will continue to be variable for many years.

As a VR conferencing app, this is the best.

OVRDrop
Clarity is maybe 60% of monitor, worse at edges.

Pimax Vision 8kX does allow the use of slightly smaller OVRDrop panels, helping a bit more to stay out of the way of busy flight decks.

Lack of curvature results in the corners of large 4k displays being at difficult angles. Lack of in-app supersampling allows sharpness to be degraded somewhat by the apparent blur filter in the SteamVR rendering pipeline.

Some versions support command line options (useful for macro automation), some versions have better hand controller support, sometimes SteamVR issues an obstruct popup (apparently security) notice if command line options are used.

The developer is very much active and supporting the project. So please consider pitching in your support so we can get more features and updates.

As a ship/kneeboard computer overlay, supporting macro automation, this is the best.


Donate (donation link, hope this is ok to post here)

WorkInVR
Clarity is at least on par with OVRDrop.

Uniquely, includes an augmented keyboard camera pass-through feature. I find adding tactile feedback bumps to keyboards more efficient, without risk of crowding busy flight decks.

I might be missing something here, but it seems the application would be more useful with at least the ability to completely hide the overlay and store profiles.

As an overlay, it might be helpful for some specific users and use cases.

OVRToolkit
Clarity is at least on par with OVRDrop.

Definitely under active development, and seems to be improving quickly.

As an overlay, it might be helpful for some specific users and use cases.

_

Attached screenshots are a rather good impression of what VirtualDesktop looks like, showing my triple monitor Linux workstation through VNC. Everything is about as readable as in these images, though some transparent things are helpfully at different depths.

Make sure to view these screenshots at full resolution.

15 Likes

Great writeup, thank you!

How would you rank these for watching movies? I have virtual desktop and have used it quite a bit with cv1 and index for movie watching, but have not tried any of the others you mention yet.

VRToolbox or Bigscreen would be my recommendations for watching movies. VRToolbox for visual quality and ease of use. Bigscreen for the near comparable ease of use and environments (ie. nice campfire) if familiar surroundings are desired.

EDIT: That said, VirtualDesktop is a good choice too because it ‘just works’ without any controls fiddling, and OVRDrop is of course great if you want to put something to watch on a screen while flying your virtual spaceship around on some routine cash-grab errands.

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Interesting. I never tried VRToolbox before…only Bigscreen, SimpleVR Player, Cmoar, Cineveo.

Addendum to above: global VoiceAttack bindings to launch VR Toolbox, VirtualDesktop, Bigscreen, OVRDrop (various profiles), WorkinVR, and OVR Toolkit, are now part of extendedInterface. Lockouts are included to prevent launching these apps while running simulators, to prevent accidental logging out and such.

Combined with a PVRHome hook, it is entirely possible to use a VR workstation solely from the VR headset, without looking at a physical desktop monitor.

A sequence of shortcuts to launch these apps is also part of extendedInterface.

@reptilexcq VRToolbox is well worth trying out. Super intuitive and high quality. I suspect it may be greatly underappreciated because what it is good at was not so well supported by other headsets.

2 Likes

Just a while ago I read about Desktop Portal

It’s not on Steam yet.
Open Beta later this week.

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A sharpening filter for every application is definitely low hanging fruit for VR image enhancement!

I was annoyed in Bigscreen at the popping in and out of objects in the peripheral. Had to enable PP to get rid of them but PP is expensive. Have you noticed a reduction in fps when using PP on the 8KX?

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I have not had to use Parallel Projections for BigScreen, though they were on for the Elite Dangerous demo at NYC roadshow. Maybe you should enable hidden area mask?

There will always be a <1.25^2 load penalty for Parallel Projections, as that is the number of extra pixels required, as shown by SteamVR video settings changes when that feature is enabled. This was never in doubt, and my spreadsheets already account for it.

@kzzyn Very interesting. I need to get a test of that. The “save and load window layouts for specific use cases” may make it viable.

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you’re not the author of VRToolbox by any chance?

Am I promoting it too much?

No, I am not the author. But is the best tool for the very specific job of creating arbitrary VR computer monitors.

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Can they do also 3D monitors or only 2D? Bigscreen can do 3D as that one I tried but I don’t know about others.

AFAIK, no, not if you are thinking of watching 3D videos. There is an FPS mode feature which supports side-by-side stereo, but it seems to create a screen locked to the headset, much like VorpX. There is also apparently the ability to load background images/videos, though I did not try this.

Briefly back to the 5k+ for application testing. Interestingly, some things of the things I have to move my head around to beat aliasing are perfectly readable in the 8kX. Very much like trying to see things through a screen door by moving around.

Other things are just comparatively less pleasant in the older 5k+. Like hints of RGB striping at the edges of finer white text, and the general aliasling of thin lines into many segments.

Some things, I know from experience, like the DCS Hornet AMPCD, are just not clear and hardly usable in the older 5k+. Whereas in the 8kX, I actually find the backup instruments in the FA18C, such as the climb indicator, useful.

And most of all, I am already experiencing much more eyestrain in the 5k+.

So the 8kX really is a step up.

9 Likes

Oh yeah and I think people tend to ignore this fact. SDE does cause eyestrain imo. Your brain is working harder trying to make sense of what is behind the SDE.

The amazing thing is SDE itself doesn’t bother me that much. Like, using the upscaler on the 8kX, or using an 8+, doesn’t help.

But not having text and lines get blocky at all, that really helps.

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I’ve started a thread to request a sharpening filter/ and or reshade support in Pitool. The more likes and supporting comments it gets the more likely it is Pimax will implement it. I agree a cheap sharpening filter makes a BIG difference. It’s like getting a free graphics card upgrade.

Ideally it would be implemented by Nvidia at the driver level, but I can’t see them doing it anytime soon. Pimax are probably our best port of call for this atm.

https://community.openmr.ai/t/feature-request-pitool-reshade-support-or-equivalent-primarily-for-sharpening/25524/3

Thanks.

Awesome info!

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