The creators behind the next big competitor in the virtual reality market have revealed a little more about their product. Valve’s Index VR Headset now has an official Steam listing, following a teaser that appeared on Steam on March 29.
The headset comes with a power adapter, two face gaskets (one narrow and one wide), and integrated open-back headphones. Open-back headphones are a strange choice for a virtual reality headset given that they do not block noise and will allow the user to remain aware of their real-life surroundings, and neither the Oculus Rift nor the Vive Pro have them. The upcoming Oculus Quest, however, has audio functionality integrated into the headband itself, removing the need for headphones entirely.
The Index requires base stations similar to the HTC Vive, but the link to the store page for these base stations goes nowhere right now. No details were given about the tracking, but some light was shed on the controllers. Valve spokesperson Doug Lombardi told The Verge that “the tech info on that page, while not comprehensive, is accurate.”
The Index was rumored to launch with Valve’s upcoming “Knuckles” controllers, which give VR users more control over their hands and fingers. Lombardi clarified that the controllers will indeed ship with the headset when it launches in June 2019, and that they are officially called the Valve Index Controllers.
Some more technical information was leaked about the Index thanks to some very blurry screenshots. Developer Zulobo Productions uploaded a video to YouTube, during which they opened their SteamVR settings window, revealing an icon that very closely resembles Valve’s new headset.
Thanks to some more blurry screenshots, the Index’s refresh rate and resolution were found as well. The headset will have a refresh rate of 90 Hz, the same as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Close examination of this screenshot shows the current render resolution set at 1913×2125 per eye, but the slider is only set to 90%. With some quick math, we can deduce that the resolution of the Valve Index is 2016×2240 per eye, the same as the Vive Pro.
However, the render resolution is not the same as the panel resolution. VR headsets render at a much higher resolution than the displays in the headsets in order to offset the image quality loss and pixelation inherent in VR displays. Just think of supersampling and you’ve got the right idea. Nothing about the panel resolution has been revealed yet, but it’s safe to assume it’ll be similar to the Vive Pro’s panel resolution of 1440×1600 given that the leaked Index render resolution matches that of the Vive Pro.
The device is slated to ship on June 15, 2019 according to the Steam listing.