The Valve Index is a high-end, PC-tethered headset. Even by VR’s standards, the Valve Index is specialized and expensive costing $999. However, it offers excellent visuals, clever hardware design, and the nicest VR controllers on the market for users who spend a lot of time in VR.
The Valve Index is the most comprehensive VR package currently available in the market, with its sophisticated screen technology delivering a 1,600 resolution per eye, a 120Hz refresh rate, finger-tracking controllers, and precise motion tracking stations. It’s pricey, takes some effort to set up, and requires a high-end PC to access its applications, but once those hurdles are over, it invites you into a captivating VR experience unlike any other. Valve pioneered virtual reality as we know it today, developing a complex tracking system. It runs the popular SteamVR platform and has a Vive System partnership with HTC.
The Design of the Valve Index
The Valve Index has a modest, stylish appearance that will not overpower your living room. The slightly gleaming plastic surface is attractive, and the front-mounted glass panel gives the impression of a futuristic design. When using it, it truly feels like you’re entering a strange new world, and this is where all of the clever ergonomics kick in.
The Valve Index is made of a thick layer of super-soft fabric that allows it to rest comfortably on your face and head without exposing your skin to any hard plastic or sharp edges. Because of its great weight distribution, the Valve Index is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. When you get sweaty, the face gasket breaks off easily for easy cleaning. The spacious gasket makes the Valve Index relatively comfortable even for users who wear glasses, yet it can get unpleasant. Additionally, some users complained of scalping and the headset being too small for their heads.
The Valve Index contains built-in near-field speakers that sit just next to your ears, rather than on them, and are driven by speaker drivers which means that the Valve Index speakers give excellent three-dimensional surround sound while still providing some aural separation without entirely blocking out external disturbances. Another standout feature of the Valve Index’s new controllers can now be used as both traditional motion controllers and hand/finger trackers. The Index controllers are attached to your hands, so you can let go of your grasp without fear of dropping them.
Performance of the Valve Index
When compared to its competitors, one of the most notable features of the Valve Index is its broad field of view. The Valve Index’s lenses are both tall and wide, unlike some headsets that give you tunnel vision by restricting your view into narrow cones. While concentration still requires you to turn your attention rather than move your eyes, the extra wraparound effect is extremely immersive.
If you have a powerful PC that can support the Valve Index’s graphical settings, and framerate, the headset’s actual performance is extremely outstanding. The Valve Index offers a true VR experience, with its reduced screen door effect, immersive audio, haptic controls, and clear images, and is only limited by the power of your own PC. Although a less powerful headset can still produce beautiful games with beautiful art direction but there’s always the graphical compromise tied to the limitations of a console or a static VR headset, which you won’t have to worry about here.
When it comes to peripherals, the Valve Index is ahead of its competitors. Other devices use clumsy wands that get in the way, while the Valve Index Controllers (also known as the Knuckles) give your fingers complete flexibility, monitoring them individually so you can pinch, box, squeeze, and feel the resonance of items in your palms. In spite of some ridiculous haptics, the controllers have long battery life and adjustable soft straps, so they’re comfy to use. They have a long way toward letting your hands feel completely free when you’re within a virtual world.
Is the Valve Index Worth It?
The Valve Index is the greatest option for users who are not on a budget and wants to get into VR. It’s expensive, but it also provides a whole new world of gaming, with some of the most profound and thrilling experiences available. Thanks to the VR headset’s excellent ergonomics, haptics, and audio, you’ll be able to enjoy them in comfort as well.
The VR market is rapidly growing and there are other VRs that also offer a quality experience at a much cheaper price. If you are on a budget and you do not have a powerful PC, then the Valve Index is not for you. Room space would also be a problem as it requires a large play area.