Valve Index reveal: The next gen of VR

Valve Index in packaging

After Steam store leaks earlier in the year spoiled the surprise, we now have our first proper reveal of the Valve Index headset, it’s in-house answer to the future of virtual reality.

Valve appears to be marketing the Index as a device for enthusiasts with cash to splash, rather than an accessible entry-point like Window’s Mixed Reality Headset range or the Oculus Quest.

It’s a bold plan, and the specifications are truly something to behold. With dual 1440×1600 LCDs, a frame rate of 120Hz, improved FOV and peculiar off-ear audio, this appears to be the most powerful headset on the market, and according to previews, it lives up to its extreme internals.

One of the most interesting things about the Valve Index reveal is its front compartment, aptly named the “Frunk” that is left for modders to experiment with. Valve’s open-source attitude will surely result in some fascinating experiments.
The 87-sensor boasting Knuckles controllers also seek to change the game. According to Polygon’s Colin Campbell, they “feel more like a pair of gloves… than a handheld controller.”

Valve Index Headset, controllers and sensors

Preview demos had press shaking hands with robots, two-handing crowbars and pinching envelopes between their thumb and forefinger.
This is perhaps the best asset of the Index, considering that most VR controllers are chunky, clunky and unintuitive, with big wads of plastic blocking freedom of movement.

Of course, to complement all of the exciting features I’ve listed, there’s a heavy price tag to match. The headset, controllers and base station setup costs an eye-watering £919. Luckily, the headset works with Vive base stations and controllers too, so you can just grab the headset if you so wish for uh… £459.

This creates a gulf between the Index and its competitors, price-wise, but you do truly get what you pay for. Check out the full shebang on Steam. Are you on-board for the future of virtual reality?