Valve has finally properly given the world its first look at its brand-new high-end virtual reality PC hardware, called Index. Pre-orders start today (May 1) and the device releases in June.
The main selling point to Index is that it’s VR for people who can afford the premium experience. It’s a considerable step up from PlayStation VR, and several miles removed from Nintendo’s newly released Labo VR kits.
Don’t get me wrong, Nintendo and Sony are doing their own fun stuff with VR, but Index looks to be high-end experience for users who want to get the absolute best possible – and most demanding – experience.
Index is basically made up of a new headset, controllers, and new 2.0 base stations. Valve chose to go with external tracking for Index because it doesn’t think headsets with built-in sensors are quite there yet. That’s what it tells Polygon, anyway.
This sets Index apart from Facebook’s recently announced Oculus Rift S, of course, which utilises internal tracking (meaning your movements are all tracked by the headset, and not external base stations).
The Index headset boasts dual 1440×1600 RGB LCDs, and claims to offer “greater sharpness for the same rendering cost” in addition to a reduced “screen door” effect. For comparison, the original Vive had a combined 2160×1200 resolution (1080×1200 per eye).
Index will run at 120Hz, but is also able to run back at Vive’s 90Hz, and will apparently have a full 20-degrees more Field of View than Vive. By all accounts, it sounds like an absolute beast.
Meanwhile, the new Index controllers have been designed with longer play sessions in mind, and to create total immersion by ensuring players can interact with objects and people just like they would in the real world.
As such, the controllers come equipped with an incredible 87 sensors to track pressure, hand and finger position, and motion to help simulate the most natural movements possible.
You won’t be surprised to discover that such a beefy bit of kit comes with an extra beefy price tag, and the full bundle (which comes with the headset, two controllers, and two base stations) costs an eye-watering £919/$999.
It is possible to pair Index with base stations you already own, so if you just wanted the headset and controllers you’d be looking at £689/$749, while a headset on its own would be £459/$499. Finally, if you just wanted the controllers, that’d be £259/$279 USD.
Index is currently expected to start shipping by June 28, so I’d get saving now if I were you.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.