KOR-FX Gaming Vest Review

Welcome to Inside Sim Racing and our review of the KOR-FX Immersive Gaming Vest. Some of you may have seen our first look at a prototype of the KOR-FX way back in December of 2010.  If first became available to the public in 2014 and we now have the full gaming vest here as it’s being marketed as a 4DFX haptic feedback system. We tested t it on the PC with SimVibe, PC without SimVibe and then on the consoles as well.  Normally it’s $150 but they currently have it on sale for the summer for $135 and shipping is free in the continental US. You can purchase them direct from their website at korfx.com.

In case you’re not familiar with the KOR-FX , Here what Immerz the company behind the KOR-FX has to say about it.

The KOR-FX gaming vest uses award-winning 4DFX technology that transforms the acousto-haptic signals (audio) coming from your games or media into pinpointed high-definition feedback that allows you to feel the on-screen action and environmental factors for the first time.

The vest is fully customizable, putting you in control of the amount of action you can feel. With our forthcoming Dev-Kit, game developers or enthusiasts will be able to design audio and game functions specifically for KOR-FX.

KOR-FX is not a rumble pack. Rumble packs use spinning motors to create vibrations. Our acousto-haptic technology uses audio to create precise, directed haptic output with special transducers. This output echoes into your chest cavity and turns your body into an instrument that allows you to feel the environment extremely accurately.

KOR-FX is fully compatible across a range of media and devices and can be used with anything that produces audio.

It comes with the vest, dongle,  USB power cable and a 3.5 mm male to male adapter. The vest requires 4 batteries to operate and if you don’t have a USB power source the dongle box requires another 4. You’ll still need at least 4 batteries.

They also sent us something called a Boosteroo that acts as a headphones volume booster in case your signal isn’t powerful enough.

Doesn’t come with a manual but they give you an informational card that points you to korfx.xom/start. From there they have a link to a setup PDF guide and recommend that you watch the setup videos.

At this start page is states that the vest needs to go through an 8 hour break in period to function correctly, even though one of the tutorial videos said 30 hours.

The vest also comes with safety notes that state:

KOR-FX generates powerful emotional and physical effects. Please use caution in using this device. We recommend taking regular breaks between extended periods of play and if you feel any discomfort when using the vest to please discontinue use.

If you have a heart condition, we advise you to check with your doctor before using KOR-FX. If you have a pacemaker or any other heart implant do not use KOR-FX as the product contains magnets.

First up we tried KOR-FX with SimVibe.  It certainly took some tweaking but we did get it to work pretty well with the software.  By turning settings like, engine noise, gear shifts and  vertical motions on, SimVibe was able to send these sensations to the KOR-FX in a realistic manner.  Bumps in the road, rumble strips and running off the track resulted in  vibrations in your chest that felt in-tune with what was happening on screen.

We then tried it on a PC without SimVibe and the consoles were it didn’t perform as well.  Unlike SimVibe, in normal use the transducers output is based on the game’s sound.  The constant engine noise caused the transducers to create continuous vibrations in your chest, not really differentiating between differing road surfaces.

This meant that you felt the most amount of vibration while running on the road at full throttle, and if you went off the road, you would actually feel less  vibration because you wouldn’t be at full throttle while trying to save the car.

With that said, some titles and scenarios did work better than others.  The KOR-FX did a better job of differentiating cars with a lower pitch engine note, like the V8 Supercar, than cars with a higher pitch like an open wheel car.  When it came to titles, Forza 5 did the best job of differentiating between road surfaces, especially compared to others like Project CARS.  Forza was the best at recreating different road surfaces like rumble strips and cobble stone.

One of the advertised advantages of KOR-FX is the gaining of situational awareness by being able to feel where the action  in the game is at.  Unfortunately this didn’t materialize on racing titles.  I couldn’t feel if there was a car beside or behind me because the sound of my own engine was already causing the vest to vibrate constantly.

To test this claim on a non-racing title we fired up Grand Theft Auto and tried it with Kor-FX.  In that game you can certainly feel the advantages of the vest, feeling explosions, gun shots and even thunder.  With far less continuous noise, the vest does a much better job of relaying to you what is happening on screen.

So let’s get to the pros and cons:

Pros:

Works well with SimVibe

Relatively affordable

Lots of adjustability

Lightweight

Detailed instructions via PDF and videos

Wireless

Cons:

Battery powered vest

Wireless could have lag (didn’t notice any)

No auto off – drained batteries

You can get warm wearing it in the summer

Arms hit it  when making tight turns

Just does a lot of vibrating when acting as a transducer

The KOR-FX Gaming Vest is a good first effort from Immerz.  The vest certainly worked as advertised, delivering vibrations based off of the audio happening on screen.  Unfortunately, this didn’t transfer well to racing were the constant sound of your engine caused the vest to constantly buzz and not differentiate between sounds.  We would like to see the vest tuned more towards low end noise to help eliminate some of the vibrations caused by high revs.

It did perform well on other types of games, like Grand Theft Auto, which feature plenty of gun shooting and explosions.

On the other hand, KOR-FX performed very well when paired with SimVibe, accurately reproducing the inputs from the software.  The strong combo of KOR-FX and SimVibe should make anyone looking to upgrade their sound system pause for consideration.