After a few years of hardware stagnation in the VR market, it’s time for the newest generation of hardware from VR headset makers. This time though, HTC is getting left out of the hype and gaming giant Valve has taken their place.
By now, we’ve all heard of the HTC Vive, but when considering the fact that Valve is bringing their first headset to market soon it’s important to remember that this isn’t their first VR rodeo. While the Vive may have HTC’s name branded all around it and it’s marketing, Valve was actually the primary developer behind the Vive’s headset.
Before we dive into the Valve Index, let’s look at what the HTC Vive currently boasts when it comes to its specs and equipment.
The HTC Vive
- The Headset – The HTC Vive has 2 1080×1200 (2160×1200 combined) OLED displays both running at a 90hz refresh rate. The headset also contains a single camera located in the lower-middle on the front of the headset. The camera can be used to take a quick look outside your headset or to see the Vive’s chaperone (an outline of the space around you).
- The Controllers – The Vive comes equipped with 2 controllers. Each controller has a touch-pad, grip buttons on either side of controller, and a dual stage trigger.
- Base Stations – When it comes to tracking, the Vive uses 2 base stations located at opposite corners of your play-space. The 1.0 version of the base stations can support up to a 15×15 ft. play area.
- Add-ons – After the Vive’s initial release, HTC released multiple add-ons for the headset. Arguably the biggest releases included the Deluxe Audio Strap and the wireless adapter. The Deluxe Audio Strap was a strap replacement for the Vive’s cheap elastic band and earbuds. It included a much nicer plastic backed strap along with flip down headphones. The wireless adapter was an add-on that could be attached to the Vive to eliminate the wire connecting the headset to the PC.
The Valve Index
The upcoming Index looks to be pushing the future of VR gaming even further while keeping connected to its past.
The headset will continue using base stations (or lighthouses if you prefer calling them that) to track both the headset and controllers. According to an email from Gabe Newell, President of Valve, the Valve will have a special bundle for VR users who already have a set of Vive base stations.
The Index’s headset is currently rumored to have a 135° field of view (source 1 & 2). This would be a huge improvement compared to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive’s roughly 110° field of view. We don’t currently know the field of view of the Index’s upcoming competitor, the Oculus Rift S, but it is said to have a field of view “slightly larger than the Oculus Rift.”
The front of the Valve Index contains 2 cameras. They will most likely be used for some sort of pass-through camera and chaperone just as the Vive’s single camera was, but the two camera system could easily provide a much more comfortable viewing experience when looking through to the outside world.
Unlike the Oculus Rift S, the Valve Index will allow users to manually adjust their IPD (the distance between the eyes). This means that uses with closer together or further apart eyes will be able to use the Index comfortably.
The Index will also come with a built in headset much like the Deluxe Audio Strap for the original HTC Vive contained.
One of the most anticipated projects we’ve seen from Valve is the Valve Knuckles. The Knuckles are VR controllers that Valve has been working on for quite some time now. The controllers track each individual finger, allow players to completely let go of the controller, and detect different pressures when squeezing.
These new controllers have been confirmed to be the new controllers included with the Valve Index. Sadly though, they have been renamed to the Index Controllers (which is a lot less cool than
According to multiple developers using the developer release of the controllers, the battery of the Index Controllers is said to be about 7 hours.
We don’t have a confirmed price for the Index yet, but Gabe Newell did confirm that the Index wouldn’t be cheap. Currently, users on the subreddit r/ValveIndex speculate the headset will fall around the $750 USD mark.
According to leaked images of the Index’s Steam page, the Valve Index will be available for pre-order on May 1st and will ship in June this year.