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Valve Index Review

With the advent of the Valve Index, Valve puts itself on the VR map in one fell swoop. This is the first VR glasses from developer ValveTM (ao known from Steam, Half-Life and the Portal series) and can compete directly with comparable popular VR headsets such as the HTC Vive Pro and Oculus Rift S. It does appear that Valve has taken a close look at its direct competition, as there are a number of similarities that make the Index the same - or even better - than its competition. Read in our Unbound VR Review what our experiences are with these new VR glasses. Order the Valve Index? You can watch it here.

Valve Index design

The Valve Index is arguably the best-developed VR glasses to date. Looking at the design, the Valve Index was created with the word 'comfort' in mind. Even after longer playing sessions, the Index is still very comfortable on the head. This has largely to do with the built-in surround-sound headphones. The cushions of the headphones cover the ears and give a clear and deep sound. The difference in sound is clearly noticeable positively, especially compared to other VR glasses. The high tones sound high and the deep tones sound deep. Just as good headphones should reproduce the sound. And this is quite an achievement, because Valve Index manages to do this without using third-party headphones. The design of the Valve Index is to slip through a ring. The headset material does not feel like 'cheap plastic' at all, but is noticeably of good quality. This shows that Valve has put a lot of time and effort into designing good quality VR glasses.

Valve knuckle Controllers

Where the Valve Index really stands out from its competition is the Valve Knuckle Controllers. The Valve Knuckles are hands-on Controllers that you tie around your hand via a band. This means you no longer have to hold the Controller, but the Controllers rest on your hands without having to squeeze them. This takes some getting used to at first, because you are automatically used to holding (and thus squeezing) your Controllers. But after a while you get the hang of how the Controllers work and you notice that the Valve Knuckles are a very pleasant way of controlling. The best thing about the Valve Knuckles is that they have a new way of finger tracking. So every individual finger on your hand can be fully tracked! This is particularly useful in the game 'Aperture Hand Lab', where you play a robot in the world of Portal. You have to get through the world by means of assignments with your hands and fingers. For example, you are instructed to pick up something, to wave to someone or to raise your thumb at someone.

The disadvantage of the Valve Knuckles (and the new way of finger tracking) is that there are still relatively few games that do anything with them. Aperture Hand Lab is a great example of how games can use finger tracking, but there are still many games that are used to the 'old' Controllers. Fortunately, there are plenty of game developers who are responding to the trend of the new Controllers and with this we can of course expect that there will be enough games that take full advantage of finger tracking in the coming months.

Image and tracking capabilities

The Index uses a dual LCD screen with 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye. With the very high refresh rate of 120 Hz, games are played very smoothly and sharply. There is even the option to increase the refresh rate to 144Hz for an even smoother experience. The screen-through effect is therefore kept to a minimum, although you can distinguish some individual pixels if you really pay attention. The Valve Index works with the well-known base stations - lighthouses - from HTC or Valve. This way of external tracking ensures that you always have proper tracking in a room, and no loss of tracking when you keep the Controllers behind your back for example (something that can be a problem with inside-out tracking , as with the Oculus Rift S). In addition, the Valve Index is fully compatible with HTC Vive and Vive Pro. The base stations are identical to each other and can also communicate with each other. This makes the Valve Index a particularly good addition if you want to upgrade from the 'old-fashioned' HTC Vive.

Conclusion

With the new Valve index, a new high-end VR headset has been launched on the market. There are certainly no gaps for the headset to fill, but it's a welcome addition to the current VR range. The Valve Index falls somewhere between the Oculus Rift S and the HTC Vive Pro. Where the Oculus Rift S is mainly aimed at Consumers and the HTC Vive Pro is aimed at business users; the Valve Index is right in between. In terms of specifications and way of tracking, the Index can compete with the Vive Pro, but in terms of price and applicability it is also the ideal headset for Consumers to venture into high-end [[ MD5_56]]. The new Valve Knuckles are a breath of fresh air when it comes to motion controlling. We think other VR headsets should definitely go along with this innovation, as the Knuckles are noticeably more comfortable and capable of more than the old-fashioned motion Controllers.

So are you looking for VR glasses with very sharp quality, accurate tracking and very comfortable controllers? Then the Valve Index is an excellent choice! Click here to order the Valve Index.

Diederik Hermsen- XR Product Specialist

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