Valve Index reveal: The best of VR’s first generation—but is it worth $999?

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Say hello to the Valve Index, developed and manufactured by game studio Valve.

Enlarge / Say hello to the Valve Index, developed and manufactured by game studio Valve. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

BELLEVUE, Washington—The Valve Index, a new virtual reality system from the creators of beloved video game series like Half-Life and Portal and the mega-popular Steam game store, is an aspirational product. Its sales pitch, as explained by various Valve staffers, revolves around the VR experience of tomorrow.

Headset specs
Valve Index HTC Vive Pro
Display 2880×1600 (1440×1600 per eye) “fast-switching” LCD panels 2880×1600 (1440×1600 per eye) AMOLED panel
Refresh rate 90Hz, 120Hz, or 144Hz 90Hz
Field of view 130 degrees with integrated FOV “eye relief” knob 110 degrees
Audio Near-field off-ear speakers with 3D directional audio support; built-in microphone Integrated adjustable earcups with 3D directional audio support; built-in microphone
PC connection Custom single-piece cable Custom single-piece cable with PC junction box
Optional Bundled Accessories Two wireless motion-tracked controllers with rechargeable batteries, two SteamVR 2.0 room-scale tracking stations Two wireless motion-tracked controllers with rechargeable 960mAh batteries, two SteamVR 1.0 room-scale tracking stations
Modularity Front trunk (“frunk”) expansion port with USB 3.0 connector; front-facing stereo cameras Front-facing stereo cameras
Price $499 ($999 with two tracking stations, two controllers) $799 ($1,099 with two tracking stations, two controllers)

That’s a nice way of saying that Valve is going for features and dreams rather than affordability with its $999 Valve Index kit, which ships “by the end of June” after “limited” pre-orders go live on May 1 for users in the contiguous US and most of Western Europe (the UK is left out for now).

But through the course of Valve’s reveal event, its aspirations for VR’s future became abundantly clear—and abundantly conservative. If you saw last month’s news about Valve’s VR headset and began dreaming big, today is the day to scale those dreams back.

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