Valve Index headset is available for pre-order

Valve revealed the Valve Index a month ago. Not much was known other than it exists. Now, we are getting detailed info about the headset, including its price.

The Valve Index doesn’t necessarily come cheap. Pre-orders price the headset at $999. That’s a high price when you considered the prices of other VR headsets out today. For instance, Facebook’s Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S will be shipping soon for $399.

But Valve does allow you to buy parts individually if you so choose. So if you already have a Vive or Vive Pro, you won’t need to spend the full $999. You can choose to skip on the Knuckles controllers and get the other parts. Without the controllers, the bundle comes in at about $650.

Index doesn’t use cameras for inside-out tracking

The Index will use a 5-meter cable that needs to be plugged into a powerful PC. The system uses Valve’s laser-firing Lighthouse base stations to locate the headset in space. This lets you walk around in VR spaces up to a 10 x 10 meters if you have four of base stations — that’s quite a bit of space to roam.

Valve Index top view
Valve Index. Image courtesy Valve.

The headset doesn’t use cameras for inside-out tracking. Valve says the Index’s twin stereo RGB cameras are designed for video passthrough so you can see the outside world through the headset in AR applications.

The Index is looking to bring the highest VR fidelity

Valve claims the Index main focus is to bring the highest fidelity VR experience possible. That suggests we’ll see an improvement to its lenses, screens and audio. The headset uses a pair of 1440 x 1600-resolution RGB LCDs, not the often used higher-res OLED screens. So while the LCDs their using doesn’t have exceptionally high resolution, Valve says the screen runs faster: 120Hz, with an experimental 144Hz mode. Running faster should allow the Index to combat the “screen door effect” and the blurriness you can get when you move your head — issues that plagued many early VR headsets.

Plus, the Valve Index has an IPD slider to adjust for the distance between your eyes. Also, the lenses expand the field of view by 20 degrees over the HTC Vive.

Valve Index's controls
Valve Index’s controllers allow you to reach, grab, and throw virtual objects. Image courtesy Valve.


Similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens visors, the Index sports bulit-in speakers. They’re not designed to sit next to your ears, however. They blast the sound towards your head. This means people around you can probably hear what you are doing in the headset. However, there should be less time spent trying to get the audio to be aligned with your ears.

You can also plug in headphones in the headset’s 3.5mm headphone jack if you so choose.

What about the games?

We know Valve has promised three full-length VR games for the headset. However, they haven’t said much about them. This also means there may not be any big Valve-made titles ready for the headset on its launch. Still, it’s possible for Valve to release those titles before the Index releases in mid-June. And according to UploadVR, Valve will bring a “flagship” VR game to all Steam-connected VR headsets later in 2019.

Pricing and availability

The Valve Index costs $999. It is open for pre-order right now and will be released mid-June.

Image courtesy Valve

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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