The Valve Index is a virtual reality headset for enthusiasts that we connect to the PC. To be able to operate the VR headset and download content for it, you need the software Steam and SteamVR.
The design of the Valve Index is definitely matter of taste, it has a black front with a reflective surface that is very easily scratched and on which you can see fingerprints. However, you can remove this plate. On the other hand, the material quality of the index is very high, unlike the Pimax, it has no breaks or deformation. With a weight of about 788g its is not one of the lightest headsets. Since this weight spraeded over your whole head, you hardly notice this. The Valve Index is one of the most comfortable VR headsets with the very good cushion. Also an additional piece for the back of the head is there, with which even persons with a smaller head can use the Index. While using little or no light gets into the headset. The removable cable of the Index is 6 meters long and goes down behind your left shoulder.
The setup is more complex than with headset without external sensors. You need to attach two base stations to the walls or on tripods. The base stations only need a power outlet and no connection to the PC. However, they always stay in place and should not be moved. In addition, the headset must be connected to a power outlet and Displayport as well as USB 3 to the PC.
Then Steam and SteamVR are installed and you go through the setup procedure, where you first update the firmware if necessary, and then set up the playing area with the controllers.
At the beginning, SteamVR asks if we want to change to a higher Hz number. Depending on the performance of the computer you should do or not do that.
In addition, in SteamVR you can do several settings like rise the resolution scale.
The Valve Index has an RGB LC display with a resolution of 1440 x 1600 per eye at 80, 90, 120 or 144Hz.
From the screendoor effect I can say that, less pixels are seen than with Rift S, but not significantly. The picture looks sharp and text as well as smaller buttons for example in simulations are very well recognizable. Even your desktop you can see very good. The color representation is very good, the colors are always clear. However, the index does not quite match the color representation of the OLED display of the Vive Pro.
Unfortunately, when we talk about godray or glare effects, the Valve Index doesnt look good here, worse than Rift S, Pimax, or Samsung Odyssey Plus. As soon as bright text encounters a dark background, you can see these disturbing effects, they are at least as bad as Vive Pro. However in many games and bright only scenes you do not notice this.
The black levels of the index are quite good for a LC display. You can tell it’s not pure black, but it does not really kill the immersion. Nevertheless, OLED headsets such as Vive Pro, Quest or Pimax XR are very superior in this category.
The highly praised high Hz number of the Valve Index is hardly noticeable in my opinion. A big difference between 90 and 144Hz, I could only see while moving the controllers, I could see a difference in the game itself. The 144Hz mode also requires a very powerful computer with a 2080 Ti.
In 90Hz mode and default settings, a 1080 or 1080 Ti graphics card should be enough.
The index can score a lot with the size and quality of the field of view. If you set the distance between the eyes and lenses to a minimum with the wheel at the side, you will notice a big difference between the field of view of a Vive Pro and the Valve Index. The index does a great job here, as there is no distortion.
The killer feature of the Valve Index is definitely the controllers. These support finger tracking, so we can move each of our fingers separately in virtual reality. The realistic gripping movements without the push of a button increase the immersion extremely.
However, it takes some training to find the right point for attachment to the hand.
Unfortunately, when you press the trigger, you’ll hear an annoying clicking sound that you can actually hear while playing. In addition, it can happen that the left Thumbstick can not be pressed in the upper position.
A disadvantage of the index is the overheating that i experienced. If you remove the front panel and touch the gap for additional modules, you notice the strong heat immediately. Even while playing I could feel the heat of the display on my forehead. This is a problem especially for people who sweat quickly.
The eye distance of the Valve Index can be adjusted with a slider under the headset. The display then shows the current value. The lowest IPD is 58mm, the highest 70mm.
For people wearing glasses, the Index does a good job, as the distance between the eyes and the lenses can be increased with a screw, so that even thick and large glasses fit under the index. However, the field of view decreases the farther the eyes are away from the lenses.
The integrated sound comes from the high-quality and with a metal grid protected speakers, which lie unlike other VR headsets not on the ears. The sound is very good, currently there is no better integrated sound in another VR headset. The built-in microphone is also the best you can find right now.
Removing the magnetic face insert, the connection for the cable, as well as a audio jack connector appears. The integrated headphones can be removed and you can use your own headphones.
If you also remove the front panel, a USB slot appears, in which additional modules can be plugged in in the future. According to rumors, Valve thinks about a wireless module, for example.
Unfortunately, no Bluetooth device can be paired via the integrated Bluetooth function, this function is only intended for the controllers and base stations.
Accessories such as the Vive tracker or equipment such as the Hyperblaster can be easily used with the index, as long as they support the Lighthouse system.
The complete kit with glasses, controllers and base stations costs €1,079, the set with only glasses and controllers is €799. The glasses alone cost €539, two controllers cost €299 and a base station is €159.
Currently, all components can only be purchased through Steam.
All in all, the Valve Index is a very good VR headsets with many advantages and some disadvantages. If you want to be more mobile or save money, you should use the Rift S, if you prefer perfect colors and OLED display the Vive Pro is recommended. People who want the largest field of view or the least screendoor effect should get a Pimax 5K+ or 8K.
For the Full Kit I personally would prefer the Valve Index to the other VR headsets because of the many advantages and the greatly increased immersion, whereby only the controllers can be described as VR 2.0.
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