Valve is not yesterday’s baby in the VR world. Until 2019, it had helped VR game-changers like Oculus, and HTC to build their systems. But that was not enough for Valve because it needed to be in the game. It seems like Valve had been taking notes through the years, and in 2019, it dropped a VR bombshell that continues to fascinate VR enthusiasts and game hobbyists. The Valve Index was born! Let us review what it has to offer.
Design and set up
Open the box and there is a lot for you to see and unpack: a headset, two base stations, mounts and two controllers, base stations wires, controllers’ charging cables, and a wire to power the headset. That means the set up for the Valve Index is not just a simple plug and play process. But for a full VR kit with all the bells and whistles of a premium VR experience, it is worth it!
Going by today’s headset standards, its 800g weight is a lot, but that should not scare you at all. The weight is well-balanced, and with the headset and the head straps well-padded, you can be sure of comfortable, longer playing sessions. There is a manual IPD adjuster on the headset, and integrated speakers prominently displayed.
The Valve Index wins with its ergonomic features. It has a generous amount of plush cushioning seasoned with the eyepiece and rear head straps padded with a breathable microfiber cloth! Adjust the pupillary distance with a dial, and there is a rear dial to loosen or tighten the headset to comfortably fit your head size. Fully adjustable speakers give you high-quality sound without even touching your ears.
- 58mm to 70mm adjustable IPD range
- Adjustable speaker positions
- Adjustable head size
- Rear cradle adapter included
Video quality and display
The Valve Index features an RGB LCD that provides 50% more pixel than an OLED display to make the details look cleaner and more consistent.
It matches HTC Vive’s Pro screen resolution of 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye but surpasses it with an adjustable refresh rate of minimum 80Hz to a maximum of 144Hz –the highest in the VR market so far to help counter any “screen-door” effect. With its field of view at 130 degrees, the Valve index immerses you more than other VR headsets in the market that have been unable to provide a FOV of more than 110 degrees.
- RGB LDC display
- 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye
- 80Hz to 144Hz refresh rate
- FOV at 130 degrees
The Valve index shines with how it has handled audio immersion. Something that Valve calls “ultra near-field full range, off-aural headphones”. The speakers use BMR drivers to create accurate and high immersive low-frequency sounds. They are designed to give you an off-ear immersive experience by allowing the sound to flow freely as if from an external virtual element. To make it possible for you to enjoy your immersive experience without sacrificing sound quality, the position of the speakers is adjustable to your comfort, with an option to pair your own headphones if you want.
- Built-in headphones
- Built-in dual microphone array
- 3.5mm stereo audio jack
Valve’s Index tracking capabilities
The Valve Index VR has several advantages with its tracking capabilities. First, it comes with SteamVR 2.0 sensors. Second, it is fully compatible with SteamVR 1.0 and 2.0 base stations.
The new SteamVR 2.0 sensors have a tracking range of 7m each, and the field of view is at 160 x 115 degrees, making it easy for you to create a 10m x10m playspace with 4 sensors. With their single-rotor design, the upgraded sensors give you a wider range and increased FOV. To make for easy tracking of the photonic sensors on the headset and controllers, its laser sweeping has been increased 100 times, eliminating the problem of occlusion. That means your body motion can now be tracked across all postures and actions.
Its advanced index controllers, nicknamed “the Knuckles” are one of the best in the VR world. They support the HD LRA haptic feedback so that you won’t experience any feedback delays. The 7+ hrs battery life means that you can remain immersed for long without having to recharge them.
- Uses SteamVR 2.0 sensors
- Compatible with SteamVR 1.0 and 2.0 base stations
VR Content availability
The Valve index is powered by Steam, the largest platform that leads the pack with VR and non-VR PC gaming titles that you can play. The fact that SteamVR is owned by Valve means that you can play every game available. Thus, the valve has the highest VR content for you to experience with its powerful hardware capabilities. Hits like superhot, Space Pirate Trainer, and Beat Saber will look more realistic with Index’s exceptional tracking capabilities and unmatched refresh rate.
Valve Index Price
Even the highest caliber tech critic will content with the fact that the Valve index, with its best-in-class tracking capabilities, and unmatched hardware performance, is one of the best VR headsets in the market. Valued at $999, it will somehow burden your pocket to own it. You may also need to consider the expense of upgrading your gaming PC to meet the required VR specs. But the fact that you will have to join a waiting list to get one even at this price underscores its quality in the VR world!
Valve Index is one of the best VR headsets around. You just need to look past the minor limitations to see its higher-resolution screen, unmatched refresh rate, wide FOV, excellent ergonomics, and the “Knuckle” controllers that will keep you immersed in a VR world that only the Index can provide for long hours at great comfort. Its backward compatibility with SteamVR 1.0 and 2.0 base stations is a plus since you can buy the headset use your old base stations if you already own them. But remember that you will have to join a waiting list to own it, even at the $999 price! However if you’re a VR enthusiast then the Valve Index might just be something you cant live without.