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Valve Index VR Kit revealed - high-end VR headset, controllers and tracking for $999
By Neil Soutter on May 3rd, 2019 at 04:36pm - original article from game-debate

UPDATE: Valve's Index VR headset officially sold out within half an hour of going on sale. Pre-orders for the premium quality virtual reality device went live on Steam, and it seems the $1000 price tag attached to the complete package wasn't enough to put early adopters off.

The Valve Index is now no longer available for shipping in June; reservations for the Index VR kit are now listed as shipping by September 30th, while the headset and controllers bundle will be available by August 31st.

Priced at $1000 for the complete kit, this is no doubt Valve preaching to the converted with its first wave of headsets. Those who got in on the ground floor with the original HTC Vive were always going to be the most receptive to VR hardware upgrades, and they'll also have to spend the least to enjoy the new headset as they can use their current base stations and controllers.

We also don't know how many of these things Valve manufactured for the initial run. It could be a thousand, it could be hundreds of thousands. For Valve though, they'll be pleased the Index has got off to a good start and match their expectations. The crucial time for Valve Index VR will come when the early adopters have already got their fix though. It's then we see if the Valve Index has helped to grow the PCVR audience.

Original Story: 01-May-2019 - Valve Index VR Kit revealed - high-end VR headset, controllers and tracking for $999

Farewell HTC Vive, there’s a new player in town. Valve has unveiled the Valve Index, its new play at the premium, high-fidelity virtual reality experience. Specs-wise, the Valve Index is hands down the strongest contender in the HMD market, although anyone hoping for affordable VR from Valve will be disappointed to see an eye-watering price tag.

Valve Index comprises a new headset with a higher resolution display, built-in off-ear audio, redesigned ergonomics, and a wider field-of-view. It utilises a pair of 1440 x 1600 resolution LCD displays (no OLED, sadly), with a 120Hz refresh rate confirmed. 144Hz is theoretically possible, although Valve is saying this is still experimental. The built-in audio isn't headphones, but rather off-ear audio speakers that can direct 3D audio towards your ears. The Valve Index Headset will set you back £459 / $499 / €539.

Valve Index Headset

The next part of the package is the Valve Index Controllers. Based on the oft-showcased ‘knuckles’ design, these controllers promise an intuitive button layout as well as gesture tracking. A grand total of 87 sensors are in place to track even your smallest hand and finger movements, allowing objects in the virtual world to be grabbed or toyed with on a 1:1 basis. They look pretty awesome, to be honest, and make Sony’s Move solution for PSVR look even more laughable these days. Have a peek at Boneworks VR for how these concepts can be implemented in-game. The Valve Index Controllers cost £259 / $279 / €299, although they aren’t a vital component and plenty of VR games will work without them. Some, however, are being developed specifically to take advantage of their new features.

Valve Index Controllers

And last up are the Base Stations 2.0. The slightly boring engine behind the VR experience, these Base Stations use lasers to track player movements. Base Station 2.0 improves on the original units through increased signal range, wider FOV, up to four base stations, and arguably stronger aesthetics. Each Base Staton costs £139 / $149 /€159, with a minimum of one required.

Valve Index Base Stations

As you can probably tell, all of this adds up so it’s certainly not going to be the cheapest way to get into VR. Those who already own some HTC Vive gear can use their current controllers or base stations to keep the price down, although they obviously won’t benefit from the improvements the new hardware brings to the table.

If you’re coming at it fresh, the full Valve Index VR Kit will cost you £919 / $999 / €1,079.

Valve Index Pricing

  • Valve Index Headset - £459 / $499 / €539
  • Valve Index Controllers - £259 / $279 / €299
  • Valve Index Base Stations - £139 / $149 /€159
  • Valve Index Full VR Kit - £919 / $999 / €1,079

At this point, Gabe Newell and company must be so disconnected from reality that they have no idea what constitutes an acceptable price point. At £919 all in, this is incredibly removed from an impulse purchase, and also far more expensive than the vast majority of Steam users will be able to afford, let alone want to afford. It is well over twice the price of the Oculus Rift S.

In terms of growing the VR user base, the Valve Index looks as if it’s not even going to make a dent. This is a high-end VR kit for folks who are already deep into VR gaming. If you didn’t want to pay the price for the HTC Vive at launch, you’re probably not going to want to do the same here.

That’s not to say the Valve Index isn’t without merit. Far from it. Judging from the specs and early impressions, the Valve Index will be the ultimate VR solution. It’s an absolute powerhouse and will deliver the most immersive virtual reality experiences around. Valve has lifted the specs up from the Vive, as well as delivering some impressive looking controllers which will enable a greater degree of interactivity than ever before. Unfortunately, absolutely none of that matters if most can’t even afford it. VR developers need a large install base to justify game development, and a pricey headset like this isn’t going to help matters a great deal. On the upside, those dropping $1000 on a VR headset likely have plenty of disposable income to spend on games.

It’s a tricky one, but it’s difficult to envisage the Valve Index as anything more than a niche product when it’s got such a lofty price tag attached. It’s been over three years since PCVR made its debut and the assumption was that prices would go down over time rather than up. Who knows though, perhaps there is an audience for high-end PCVR headsets who, for some reason, don’t already own an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

The Valve Index will be available to pre-order later today, with shipping expected in June 2019.