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Home > New Gear > Valve Index review: what US press says about the VR headset
Valve Index review: what US press says about the VR headset

Valve Index review: what US press says about the VR headset

By  Fields Corrielus 2019-07-01 1151 0

For several weeks now, U.S. journalists have been testing Valves VR Glasses Index. What is their verdict?

Valve Index data: Resolution, field of view and more

optics

Two LCDs, tilted lenses

disbandment

1,440 x 1,600 pixels per eye (2,880 x 1,600 combined)

Display-Matrix

RGB-Subpixel

refresh rates

80, 90, 120 or 144 Hz (adjustable per app)

field of vision

Up to 130 degrees depending on setting / face shape

Tracking

SteamVR 2.0, compatible with SteamVR 1.0, requires at least two external base stations

Interpupillary distance (IPD)

58 mm to 70 mm, lens distance also adjustable

links

Cable (5 meters), connection box (1 meter), USB 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, 12V Power

face rest

Antibacterial microfibre foam, exchangeable

cameras

960 x 960 Pixel, Global Shutter, RGB

Weight (without cable)

809 grams

price

Glasses only: 540 Euro

Glasses and Controller: 800 Euro

Glasses, controller and tracking system: 1.080 Euro

Controller only: 300 Euro

Still 1st generation

Adi Robertson of The Verge awards eight out of ten points. She praises the good picture quality and the wider field of vision, the wearing comfort and the innovative finger tracking controllers. She is critical of the price, the cumbersome tracking system and the cable connection to the PC.

The external SteamVR tracking works very well and has no blind spots like VR glasses with integrated tracking system. For newcomers in particular, however, it is "a real hurdle" to first have to install two tracking stations in the room.

Some functions of the index glasses are probably intended more for developers like the two front cameras with which you can look out of the VR glasses. Their benefits are not proportional to the additional weight. All in all, however, the glasses are comfortable and easy to adjust to your own head shape, including eye relief.

Valve Index VR headset

Although Robertson praises the sound of the integrated ear loudspeaker, it is disturbed by the open design: "People in the surrounding area can listen in without any problems. She would have liked a more discreet solution.

The slightly wider field of view compared to most other VR glasses feels "more natural and less limited", the overall picture quality is "impressive".

The missing haptic feedback of the finger tracking controllers disturbs them. On the other hand, the input devices felt "incredibly natural" if they were used correctly by the software. However, most developers would probably not want to program extensive index-specific interactions.

Robertson's conclusion

Valves index glasses still belong to the first VR generation on the level of Ouclus Rift or HTC Vive. Advanced functions like eye-tracking are not yet integrated and after the wireless Oculus Quest the cable to the PC is even more disturbed.

Index is a pair of VR glasses for enthusiastic VR players, business customers or simply wealthy people. They are not necessarily "the best" VR glasses, but offer a high-quality VR experience with little compromise.

Oculus Quest beats Valve Index

Sam Machkovech from Ars Technica has compiled a list of the best VR glasses currently available. At the top of the list is Oculus Quest, followed by Valve Index in second place.

The decisive factor for this conclusion is the higher entry hurdle for index glasses in terms of technology and price. No other VR eyewear is so elaborate in setting up the tracking system. The possibly slightly better tracking quality doesn't justify the higher construction effort. The SteamVR software, which tends to crash and is cumbersome to operate, doesn't come off well.

The index controllers are "futuristic" and "comfortable" and usually work well, even with exclusive Oculus software in the Oculus Store via Revive. However, they significantly increased the total price of the index glasses and, like them, were dependent on at least two external tracking stations. The tester reports about occasional tracking interruptions, especially in games with fast hand movements like "Beat Saber".

Valve Index VR headset

Index' slightly wider field of view is rather subtly perceptible and if you switch between the VR glasses, the image is clear and sharp, text is easy to read, and the lenses offer a larger sharp field of view ("sweet spot") than other devices. So you don't have to push the glasses around so much until the image is sharp.

Valve Index is quite heavy, even if the weight is well balanced. The 3D audio of the ear loudspeakers is "impressive" and superior to all other VR glasses, but still needs improvements in volume, as the sound is much too loud or much too quiet, depending on the software.

Machkovech's conclusion

Valve Index is currently the best cable VR glasses on the market, if you are willing to do the assembly and pay the high price. If Valve brings its own VR games optimized for the index controllers onto the market, the investment could be worthwhile.

Index Controllers Feel "Like the Future"

Scott Stein of Cnet is especially enthusiastic about the index controllers, which felt like "the future of VR input" - if they were specifically supported by the game. Currently, this is only the case with around 40 titles, and even these do not always exploit the technical potential of the input devices. Valve's own demo is brilliant, but how many apps and games will still reach this level, the tester asks.

Valve Index VR headset

Stein also criticizes the effort involved in setting up Index and puts it in relation to the simplicity of Quest glasses, even if the two devices had different goals and target groups. He wishes for simpler, wireless VR experiences and Index does not offer them.

Stein sees the sharp image and the wider field of vision, which reduces the effect of diving goggles, as positive. The higher refresh rate at 120 Hz offers a smoother picture composition, while Stein considers the experimental 144 Hz mode superfluous. Stein criticizes that Index did not use eye tracking for a larger development step.

Stein's conclusion

He is not sure whether the index glasses are worth the price called for. The hardware is better, the controllers great, but the ease of use (PC, cable, tracking) low.

The best PC-VR glasses so far

For Devindra Hardawar by Engadget, Valve Index offers almost everything you could want from PC-VR glasses. Especially the finger tracking controllers are "transformative". It awards 88 out of 100 points.

Hardawar praises the excellent image quality, the "incredible" wearing comfort and the higher immersion due to the hand controllers. Like the other testers, he criticizes the cumbersome construction, the cable connection and the high price.

Valve Index VR headset

Index fits well on the head and is not as front heavy as Oculus Quest. The finger tracking makes even older games like "Superhot VR" look new, because the increased hand presence improves the immersion feeling. Hardawar does not report any dropouts during tracking.

Hardawar's conclusion

Index offers excellent image quality, a better VR presence feeling than any other glasses he has tested, and revolutionary hand controllers. Oculus Quest may be more convenient, but limited by the mobile hardware. Index offers endless possibilities in comparison.

However, Index is priceless for most people. He hopes that index innovations will find their way into cheaper products.

Good, but hard

For Kevin Carbotte of Tom's Hardware, Valve Index is the best consumer eyewear, even if it leaves room for improvement. Especially the weight is much too high and the wearing comfort is lower than with HTC's Vive Pro.

Overall, the index was "a big improvement" compared to current VR glasses. The device leaves almost nothing to be desired. For optimum wearing comfort, it can be easily adapted to your own head and the antibacterial face rest is one of the most comfortable of all the VR glasses he has tested so far.

Valve Index VR headset

According to Carbotte, the ear loudspeakers work better than he had expected: You can still hear ambient noises, for example when you are addressed, but the immersion is excellent, as is the sound.

Depending on the setting, Index offers a wider field of vision - about 20 degrees more for the average user compared to the Vive - but Carbotte is not deeply impressed. Those who value a particularly wide field of vision will be better served with the Pimax glasses. On the other hand, Valve Index is supposed to be ahead in terms of image quality, only HP's Reverb profile goggles are even sharper and clearer.

The integrated cameras on the front are still useless, but Valve is planning stereo vision and computer vision functions for the future. Further information will follow in the course of the summer.

Carbotte's conclusion

Those who have the financial means can buy the best home VR experience with Valve Index. The picture quality is excellent, the tracking the best possible and the workmanship top. The index controllers are "without question" the best solution for VR interaction.

The best VR glasses - but not for everyone

According to Jeff Grubb of Venturebeat, the display of the index glasses is impressive. The fly screen effect is so strongly reduced that it is hardly perceptible. He has to search for it. But thanks to OLED technology, Vive Pro offers stronger contrasts and better black, even if the fly screen effect is more visible with Pro glasses.

Grubb praises the higher frame rate: "The jump from 90 to 120 frames per second is almost as clear for him as from 60 to 90. The slightly wider field of view would not be bought with distortions at the side edges. VR doesn't look better in any other glasses.

Valve Index VR headset

Grubb is also enthusiastic about the ear loudspeakers: One is more responsive and not totally locked away in VR, yet the sound is incredibly good with defined highs and powerful bass. The solution is "much better" than the audio of other VR glasses.

The index controllers are a "big improvement" compared to the Vive rods and the Oculus touch controllers. Finally objects in VR can be grasped completely naturally instead of remotely controlling a virtual hand at the touch of a button.

Grubb also takes care of the wearing comfort: "If the VR glasses would press anywhere, they would only have been adjusted incorrectly.

Grubb takes a critical view of the limited support of the index controllers and the high price.

Grubb's conclusion

For Grubb Index is the best VR glasses you can buy at the moment - but probably only suitable for enthusiasts. You need an even faster PC to benefit from the higher resolution and refresh rate. Moreover, a cable is still necessary, external tracking stations have to be distributed in the room and the price is high.

The price is the sticking point for Grubb anyway: Index is indeed the best VR glasses, but not 400 to 600 US dollars better than the competition. Those who can afford to ignore the price-performance ratio are well served with Index.

The best choice for enthusiasts

Ben Lang from the US blog Road to VR believes that only HPs Reverb can keep up with the picture quality with index. Although the fly screen effect is still visible, it is significantly reduced compared to other VR glasses. The black value of the index glasses is rather grey compared to OLED displays like in Vive Pro.

The 90 Hz refresh rate is fluid as with other VR glasses, but the increase to 120 or 144 Hz further improves immersion. However, a very fast PC is necessary for this.

The field of view between 120 and 130 degrees is not a day-and-night difference as with Pimax, but a noticeable improvement, especially in direct comparison. Overall, the index among consumer glasses is the VR glasses with the best picture quality.

Valve Index VR headset

However, Lang criticizes that the special lens design of the index glasses is particularly susceptible to disturbing light reflections. This effect is at least as disturbing as with the original Vive, but is only noticeable in scenes with high contrast. It can be reduced by narrowing the field of view a bit, as it occurs especially at the edges of the image.

According to Lang, Valve still has some catching up to do when it comes to user comfort: "SteamVR feels more like a tool than an easy-to-use software, and the front cameras of the Index glasses barely offer a benefit compared to Quest or Rift S. The ear loudspeakers, on the other hand, are "simply excellent".

The bottom line is long

Lang is convinced that Index is the best choice for VR enthusiasts who value maximum immersion. The Index glasses offer a high quality commensurate with the price, even if they are not as user-friendly as the Oculus Rift S.


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