Valve Index is finally stepping out of the shadows to state its spot in the VR hardware world, and it is aiming directly at the high end.
The PC connected Valve Index is at the moment one of best VR headsets on the market.
The sensation is just amplified by the integrated valve Index controllers, when compared to those of first generation VR headsets.
Valve’s brand new headset is a huge advancement in each design and style and also features over competing headsets in consumerVR.
The first impressions of mine of the headset had been extremely good.The build quality is about as great as it gets, the material selection is actually great ,and the device’s feature set leaves basically nothing to be desired.
Table of contents
- RGB subpixel array eliminates screen-door effect
- Wider FOV than comparable headsets
- Excellent audio quality
- Very soft cushion
- Sturdy construction
- RGB subpixel array eliminates screen-door effect
- Wider FOV than comparable headsets
- Excellent audio quality
- Very soft cushion
- Sturdy construction
Valve Index Specs
|Screen||Dual LCD, canted lenses|
|Resolution||1440 x 1600 per eye (2880 x 1600 combined)|
|Subpixel Rendering||RGB subpixels|
|Refresh Rate||80, 90, 120 or 144 Hz|
|Field of View||Adjustable up to 130 degrees|
|Tracking||SteamVR 2.0 sensors, compatible with SteamVR 1.0 and 2.0 base stations|
|Eye adjustments||58-70mm IPD mechanical eye relief|
|Connections||5m tether, 1m breakaway trident connector, USB 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, 12V power|
|Cables||Tether cable with DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.0; 2x USB controller charging cables; 2x 4.5m base station power cables|
|Face Cushion||Permanently affixed to removable facial interface, foam covered in anti-microbial microfiber cloth|
|Cameras||960 x 960 pixel, global shutter, RGB (Bayer)|
|Extra||2x SteamVR 2.0 Base Stations and stands w/mounting hardware; 2x Index controllers; 2x controller lanyards; Cleaning cloth; Regionalized power adapters; Headset power supply;Headset cradle adapter (for smaller heads)|
|Weight (without cable)||1.78 pounds (809g)|
valve index price
$999 (including 2 controllers and 2 base stations); $499 (headset only)
What is In the Box?
The valve Index product line can be bought as an a-la-carte upgrade alternative for current HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro owners,with the valve Index headset, valve Index controllers and second generation Lighthouse base stations available separately for $499, $279 and $149, respectively.
Valve also sells bundles with the headset and controllers for $749, or perhaps full package for $999.
The very first thing I noticed about Valve’s brand new headset is :
the fact that every detail exudes an air of quality.
Everything from the presentation of the package to the materials used is actually top notch.
Besides the 2 base stations, 2 controllers and the headset, you will get a tether appropriate power cables ,cable for the base stations and headset.
If you are living in the U.S., you must get power cables with the North American plug configuration. Overseas customers should get plugs with 2 interchangeable ends for compatibility across the EU.
The entire valve Index vr kit includes practically all you might want except for one glaring oversight.
The valve Index controllers include internal standard rechargeable batteries, such as the Vive wand controllers and Valve provided a pair of USB Type C cables to charge them;
however, we didn’t find wall plugs in the package to charge the controllers.
It’s annoying when companies believe that customers have a USB charger, let alone 2.
I used the chargers that came with my Vive, but in case I did not have that matching pair I’d have been forced to charge the controllers of mine one by one .
I’d like knowing that both controllers charge at exactly the same speed, with chargers that the hardware manufacturer specified.
The left side of the headset features a dial like the one on the rear, but this controls the valve Index’s lens relief system,which enables you to bring the lenses as close as you can to your face.
The valve Index’s lenses sit in tower like structures which protrude towards your face from inside the visor. The dial enables you to change how far the lenses protrude from the inside.
Valve recommends getting the lenses as close to your eyes as possible to optimize the field of view (FOV).
There may be almost as a 10 degree difference in FOV with a 1cm distance adjustment.
Besides the lens’s depth, the valve Index supports mechanical IPD (interpupillary distance) adjustment.
On the bottom left side of the visor, you see a slider which manages the distance between the 2 lenses.
It supports 58-72mm pupil distances.
Once more, the mechanical adjustment feels as it is constructed with precision components which would last a long time.
valve index controllers :
valve Index controllers truly are something special, and are exactly where the Valve Index trumps all other VR systems.
Bearing in mind we would gone directly from making use of the Rift Touch controllers, which allow for motion of the index finger and thumb, to the Index’s’ knuckle controllers, which give you complete motion of all your digits in VR.
The initial time you do it, it is very something.
It is not quite as freeing as full hand tracking, as you are actually still gripping into 2 joysticks, however,the effect is really impressive.
The initial time you try them out it’s… well it is really awesome.
Oculus Rift S Touch controller (left) next to the Valve Index controller (right)
The controllers do seem very unconventional, like something you would find on Batman’s utility belt.
Each has a joystick, 2 buttons, a rear trigger, in addition to a trackpad (good for scrolling through items).
As soon you are set up with SteamVR you will be prompted to try Valve’s free Aperture Hand Lab demo, and I recommend you do if just for the second you get to play rock-paper-scissors with a robot.
Valve Index: SteamVR, games, and also in use
The valve Index runs off Steam’s VR software platform – SteamVR – which Vive owners have been using for many years.
It is fickle and susceptible to telling you a lot of aspect of your setup is suddenly disconnected.
We really, really want it were better.
Oculus’ software is a lot more reliable, but in case you are already making use of a Vive system then SteamVR isactually home, like it or perhaps not.
Typically speaking, a good deal of PC gamers use Steam anyway and SteamVR is not all that different –
just less predictable in our experience past experiences.
In addition, games purchased on SteamVR may also be utilized with Oculus headsets, but whatever purchased on the Oculus store is actually locked to Oculus systems only, so there is an element of future proofing here.
The SteamVR library is quite strong now, and there are just a couple of genuinely worthwhile Oculus exclusives that you are missing out on.
Again, Aperture Hand Lab comes highly recommend for providing a sensation of the chance in finger tracking in virtual reality, while the rhythm pounding Beat Saber is really fun and well worth your time.
Where there are actually differences is actually with the controller support,a lot of games are not compatible with the whole range of finger motion that the knuckle controllers support.
The nice thing is actually that games that do not convert fine to Valve’s more advanced controllers, but when Half Life: Alyx rolls around in March it’s going to be nice to see just how much better it operates with Valve’s system.
That said, Valve has not pushed the boat out completely on the technology in the valve Index, despite the prohibitive price of entry.
There is no eye tracking here, for instance, a thing that is beginning to seep into some other systems.
Valve Index Design
on the front, there is a shiny plastic faceplate above 2 front facing cameras which may be utilized for passthrough video and, likely, AR applications.
Go to fit the headset on and you will feel the stone gray pads that line the inside; It’s a similar Halo design to what Oculus is actually doing on the Rift S, and it feels equally comfortable.
In order to keep it that way, there are actually 2 dials you will have to use :
one on the left side which changes the physical distance from the lens to your eyes, and the one on back that makes the headband tighter or even looser.
While the second is absolutely essential, it is a thing we have seen previously.
It’s the very first dial that is really groundbreaking, as that is what enables the valve Index vr to realize its industry leading field of view spec.
So how does it do that?
The science of this’s quite self explanatory, but essentially the closer a screen is actually to your face, the wider the field of view.
The difficulty here’s that, for people who wear glasses, you will’t be able to obtain the lenses right up to the eyes of yours – which means you will see a similar area of view to what you would get with the various other headsets.
The Valve Index vr uses a dual LCD display with a 1440 x 1600 resolution per eye.
Unlike Oculus, which has still dropped the refresh rate of its displays for the Oculus Rift S, the Valve Index vr has a 120Hz display, with the choice to bump this up to 144Hz. For comparison, the more expensive Vive Pro has a lower refresh rate and smaller field of view, so this really feels like a large improvement.
in the package you will discover that the headset itself, the new Valve Index vr Controllers (colloquially referred to as’ knuckle’ controllers),and the Version 2.0 Base Stations, which have to be set up around room of yours.
However, in case you’ve a Vive or Vive Pro headset already, the first gen base stations are actually compatible with the Valve Index vr, however, you will most likely choose to begin with the second gen stations in case you do not have a pair already.
We will not dwell on this particular element, although, the reality that the Valve Index vr uses base stations at all feels as a step backwards, even if the end result it a great one the Valve Index does a lot better job of tracking behind-the-back hand movements
(a rare use case, we know) than any other headset.
Case in point: at no point during our test time did the system lose track of the controllers.
Clearly, that may improve with much more use, but thus much so good.
Still, its reliance on external trackers puts the valve Index vr behind the Oculus Rift S, which does room scale VR without any external tracking sensors that have to be seated on a shelf.
it is a trade off you will make by selecting the Valve Index vr headset over the Oculus Rift S, however, It’is a good one.
Valve Index Performance
Amazingly, while all these features would appear to need additional horsepower under the hood of your PC, they really worked fine with our much older Nvidia GTX 980 GPU.
That is a boon for people who do not have the cash to update their GPU after purchasing a $1,000 VR headset, and this can allow for even more individuals to enter into VR.
That last bit is actually important, because as even more individuals adopt VR, far more developers will see a business case for producing VR games – right now, Steam’s VR choice is actually a little bare compared to the ever expanding main store, and perhaps the best titles selected by Valve to show off the new hardware are truly just a great deal of older titles that play better
with the Knuckle controllers :
Space Pirate Trainer, Fruit Ninja, Beat Saber and Arizona Sunshine.
That said, when we played some newer titles, like Valve’s Moondust demo, we could not help but laugh.
Not only do the games look fantastic on the high resolution screen, and play without any hitches while on our less-than-ideal
however, they feel more interactive with the valve Index Controller.
Having the ability to release items by opening your hand – a totally natural experience right here in the real life – feels unnatural at first after using regular VR controllers for the previous 2 years, but as soon as you adapt to it, it once again becomes second nature.
Sadly, not all titles are going to do something extra with the new Valve Index Controllers.
In reality, during our testing we discovered a number of games which really did not work, period.
According to Valve, far more games will be improved for the headset in the potential future, but at this moment there are just aproximatelly 3 dozen such titles – a good number before launch, however just a portion of the VR games available on Steam.
When speaking about virtual reality, there is also audio quality to think about.
The Valve Index vr headset uses a built in option that, to all intents and purposes, works extremely well.
You are can hear a fantastic amount of details with no distortion, and although it is an inch from the ear,
it is able to still get reasonably loud.
Additionally, it seems a little much more hygienic when it comes time to pass the headset to someone else – as your ears never make contact with the pads, however,that is a relatively small detail.
Over the course of several sessions we were able to get a lot accomplished – we played a little bit of Beat Saber’s campaign, chopped some fruit in Fruit Ninja and wrecked some robots in Space Pirate Trainer – and also through it all the controllers held their charge.
At the end of the previous day the controllers dropped down to a single bar of daily life, but a safe assumption is actually expecting around 5 hours of playtime before you have to recharge the controllers, and also about an hour on the charger to take them back to full juice.
Steamvr and setup
The most significant fault we discovered with the headset after you use it for over a month would be that SteamVR can be capricious… and, often, a malicious, dastardly platform.
As anybody who is used an HTC Vive or perhaps Vive Pro is able to tell you, SteamVR does not always love running effectively the first time, telling you that something is actually disconnected, or perhaps that your firmware is actually out of date despite just being updated, or even just telling you the hardware cannot be found.
And that is frustrating when you simply need to go in and play this week’s latest release.
This happened to us a number of times throughout our testing, and it gave us a true sensation of deja vu – we may remember testing the Vive Pro just over a year ago and getting exactly the same issue.
Friends and people have also complained about the first Vive’s unwieldy and lengthy setup process, just to find a number of mistakes the next time they go to play it.
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In Valve’s defense, the setup process has become a little bit smoother over the years.
The headset does seem to work right out of the box with no much hassle, and setting up the 2.0 base station seems to be a bit quicker than previously.
But there is also the issue that if anything in the room changes – the base stations get moved as you are cleaning the shelf, for instance – you will have to recalibrate and go through the entire setup process once again.
Final verdict The Valve Index vr headset may be among the best VR headsets yet released, although, it has brought several of VR’s most annoying aspects along for the ride.
Setting it up are able to be distressing, updates can result in connection problems, and you could discover a new mistake the next time you go using it.
However, in case you are able to look past those problems, this’s a truly great VR headset.
Its higher resolution display screen and much better refresh rate enabled us to use it for much longer periods of time with no discomfort, and the valve Index Controllers are actually a true step up from the people that ship with the Vive.
But square all of these performance changes against the headset’s price tag, and it is a much of cash to spend on a piece of hardware which is not at all perfect – particularly when Oculus has a fantastic VR headset of its own (the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Quest 2 ) that is available at less than half the price of the valve Index vr headset .
Around the home, there is no doubt the Valve Index vr headset is going to be our default VR headset.
it is a great improvement to the HTC Vive, and also runs so much smoother compared to the Vive Pro, a highly effective VRheadset which really struggled to deliver on the promise of high end VR.
Whether It is a better all around headset than the Oculus Quest, although, is actually up for debate; the Valve Index vr headset has the significantly better specs, but Quest has the convenience.
Ultimately, which one you go for is dependent on the experience you want…
I will begin here because, after one entire year on the market, the prevalence of reports suggesting a range of hardware issues related to valve Index vr is actually notable.
The headset Valve sent us to review for the launch in 2019 developed a dead pixel in 2020, in addition to another Index sent to our Half Life: Alyx reviewer in 2020 on another continent stopped working completely after 2 weeks of use – there is a red light on it and nothing we have tried has been able to correct it.
A third Index a staffer bought in mid 2019 has not had any particular hardware issues.
We have also found countless stories from people with issues surrounding the Index controller analog sticks as well as the SteamVR Tracking base stations, even thought we have not face these problems ourselves.
While we have also seen a selection of these individuals have a responsive experience with Valve’s customer relations – getting replacements sent quickly for instance – Valve’s also not publicly acknowledged difficulties and, given the fairly tiny size of the VR community with sites as Valveindex and our own tips inbox becoming several of the only retailers to turn when you’ve VR problems, it has been hard to evaluate whether these hardware problems are actually any less or more usual than those seen with some other VR headsets.
But, these troubles are notable and you need to be conscious of them.
Valve improved Index software support quite a bit over the course of the season – enhancing the menu and the library screen you interact with in VR, including a 3D Passthrough mode (which is actually experimental at the time of this writing) while at the same making it much quicker to turn the frame rate for each virtual world you visit.
So it’s a lot easier to enjoy the better smoothness of 144 HZ when the game you are playing is actually an excellent match for it.
Innovative Controllers, Slow Adoption Valve’s Index controllers are able to sense motion of all 5 fingers while strapping to your hand and enabling you to completely release the controllers from the grip of yours.
Half-Life: Alyx makes amazing use of the controllers to enable optional interactions while getting you to enjoy it for as good extended periods which really fully releasing the controllers from your grip is actually both a relief as well as a subtle but important enhancement to immersion.
although we would be hard pressed to put together a great deal of other examples which make a strong case for paying out apremium to have those occasions, and it appears as the controllers have seen relatively slow adoption.
Additionally, provided that HP’s upcoming Reverb two essentially matches the input style of Oculus Touch (minus capacitive sensors), we would expect Index controller specific moments to be very few and much in between for the foreseeable future.