April 26, 2017

Aukey, it’s not a name that comes to mind when you think about virtual reality, as they’re mainly known for the power banks and assorted mobile accessories they sell online. That said, they actually offer a few mobile VR offerings, and now they are taking it to the next level by introducing a PC-based solution. The Aukey Cortex 4K VR headset seems promising on paper, boasting ultra-high definition 4K virtual reality experiences with the aid of its 3840 x 2160 panel and 110-degree field of view.

It’s aiming to be in the same caliber as other premier VR headsets in the space, like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but is it even a worthy contender?

Looking at its design, it very much follows the path traversed by the many other mobile VR headset makers out there. It’s comprised out of plastic for the most part, with straps going over and around the head for support, but it lacks the substantial feel and construction we get from its counterparts. In fact, it looks and feels more like a mobile VR headset, due to the hollowness of the headset and how the headphones seem to lazily be fastened around the straps – it doesn’t scream premium in any way.

Despite that, we certainly will agree that it boasts a comfortable fit when it’s worn, due to the ample cushion lining the headset and rear strap. And due to the hollowness, it’s manageable to wear and operate for long periods of time. Even though we were doing our best to not be too optimistic about the headset, we’re actually surprised by the detail and clarity of the visuals through the display lenses. They’re sharp no doubt, in addition to producing enough wide coverage to make interaction in the VR space relatively smooth.

Now, our biggest issue with the Aukey Cortex 4K VR headset is the way we procure content. The software is somewhat questionable and sketchy, since our firewall services kept informing us about unusual activity. Worst yet, it takes an excruciatingly long time to download anything – whether they’re games or 360 videos, it just crawls with the download process. Even with a fast data connection, a 200MB file took nearly 30 minutes to download.

Interestingly enough, the headset is reportedly compatible with Steam, Oculus, and other VR services. However, we were unable to try that out, resorting to playing the games through its Piplay service.

Sounds good? Yes and no. Don’t think for a moment that this will replace headsets like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, seeing that it lacks the embedded sensors that enable for spatial tracking.And that’s essentially what handicaps this headset, since it simply performs like any other mobile VR headset out there. Therefore, the VR experience here is isolated to nothing more than sitting down and looking around – there’s no spatial tracking whatsoever.

Most of the games we downloaded were teasers and demos, offering us nothing more than the ability to look around. Don’t get us wrong, its performance is tight and super responsive, which helps too when the visuals look sharp through the headset, but it doesn’t provide us with any meaningful VR experiences.

Quite frankly, it’s a glorified mobile VR headset. So, when it’s slapped with a sticker price of $399.99, it really does make for a tough argument when other mobile VR headsets, like Google Daydream and Gear VR, offer nearly the same kind of VR experiences.

What do you think of this one? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

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