• The Valve Index and its incredibly reflective front plastic plate in my Seattle apartment. Sam Machkovech
  • Valve Index's shipping box. Sam Machkovech
  • A super-zoom of the hardware's logo on the cardboard box. It's stylin'. Sam Machkovech
  • I'm a big fan of the color-changing reflections on the sticker. It was a real heartbreak to break this seal. Sam Machkovech
  • The inside of the Valve Index's shipping box, top layer. Let's pull those blue tabs… Sam Machkovech
  • …and get to the second layer. This includes mounting hardware, AC adapters, and cables for the lighthouse tracking boxes; charging cables for the controllers; and a foam "back plate" to insert into the headset if you have a smaller-than-average head. Sam Machkovech
  • Another Valve Index view on the retail box. Sam Machkovech

My introduction to the Index, Valve's first-ever top-to-bottom PC virtual reality system, was a whirlwind of numbers and demos. Valve's three-hour hands-on event in April came with a considerable blast of specs, claims, and pre-release software, but while those ranged from puzzling to impressive, none of them stayed with me like one off-hand comment from the day.

During an informal Valve Q&A after my tests, I talked about how impressed I'd already been by the Oculus Quest's "good enough" performance as a wireless, standalone VR headset. How would the pricier, wired, more demanding Valve Index fit into that kind of marketplace, I asked?

"I don't use VR for 30 minutes a day," one Valve engineer said in response. "I use VR hours a day. What's good enough for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, is dramatically different than one hour, two hours."

This engineer was on to something that couldn't be sold in a whirlwind press event: the Index difference in the home. I've been testing that angle for nearly a week thanks to an early Index shipment that Valve is letting press discuss in a "preview" capacity—meaning, this is not a fully fledged review ahead of the system's June 28 launch ($999 for the full Index system, $499 for just the headset without its required "lighthouse" tracking boxes or any controllers). A lot could change in a month.

Instead, this piece revolves around that Valve engineer's implied suggestion: strap into a Valve Index for hours at a time, make it part of my workday, and see the resulting difference. These tests (which include typing the majority of this preview with an Index as my "monitor") have been telling. Valve Index isn't perfect by any stretch, but it is absolutely the first VR system I can use for long periods of time without feeling "VR swimminess." Until someone else shows up with a system that exceeds Index's weaknesses and capitalizes on its best improvements, I do not see myself switching back to another PC VR headset.

Playing the field… of view

  • Valve provided a few of its own handsome Valve Index photos, which are mixed up with our own.
  • The Valve Index's speakers hover above your ears, so you never feel them touch you.
  • View from above the Index.
  • View from below the Index. That slider is for interpupillary distance (IPD) adjustments.
  • This backside clamp cinches the Index to your head, much like the PlayStation VR.
  • This "eye relief" knob mechanically moves the Index's pair of lenses closer to your face in ways that supposedly work better for glasses-wearers and large-headed users than traditional eye-spacer dials.
  • Another view from below, this time with a glass head. Sam Machkovech
  • Valve provided this image as a preview of what the "five degree" lens angling looks like internally.
  • One Valve staffer told me where they bought this glass head, and I subsequently forgot. Pier One? Sam Machkovech
  • More Index.
  • Side angle of the fit without a head.
Headset specs
Valve IndexHTC Vive Pro
Display2880×1600 (1440×1600 per eye) "fast-switching" LCD panels2880×1600 Read More – Source [contf] [contfnew]

Ars Technica

[contfnewc] [contfnewc]


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