If you’re in to VR … then this kit could be for you! You can preorder the Valve Index VR HMD Full Kit for $999
We knew this was coming, given Valve’s own teaser confirmation from March, and then a faux pas that resulted in an incomplete Steam store page ending up public for a short time. Valve had promised more details would come in May, and here we are with a lot of information available about the Valve Index headset, the controllers, the base stations, as well as retail pricing + availability.
Name aside, the Valve Index specs that leaked before end up holding true with the retail product. The headset uses dual 1440×1600 RGB LCDs which Valve claims helps provide 50% more subpixels relative to an OLED display. This in turn should result in higher effective sharpness for the same rendering horsepower, and is further accentuated via a 3x better fill factor to mitigate the dreaded screen-door effect. The headset runs at 120 Hz with full backwards compatibility to 90 Hz to work with VR titles built around that specification and, more interestingly, also supports an experimental 144 Hz mode. PC gamers have long known the benefits of higher framerates, and this is especially valid with VR, but time will tell how the rest of the ecosystem works around this. Equally important to VR gaming is the illumination period, which allows on-screen imagery to remain sharp while you are in motion just as well as when at rest. Valve claims up to a 5x reduction here, with a rated illumination period of 0.33 to 0.53 ms depending on the real time framerate. More to see past the break, so be sure to do so if this interests you!
The lenses used in the Valve Index are custom designed (as usually the case for every VR HMD), allowing for an improved FOV via the ability to position the optics as close to the optimal focal length for the end users eyes as possible. Given this can vary from person to person, the Valve Index supports both physically adjustable IPD and eye relief adjustment, which is to be expected but good to get a confirmation on regardless. The lenses are canted outwards by 5° as well, which all combine to provide for an effective FOV of 20° higher than the HTC Vive for most users, as per Valve. Note that this is not being compared to the newer Vive Pro headset, which has had improvements of its own. The lenses use a dual-element design, in a move that reminds us of optics used in SLR lenses on a smaller scale, to allow for clarity at the center and also at the edges of the lens, as well as minimal geometric distortion.