The VR community has had a lot to look forward to since GDC and PAX this year, but one of the biggest announcements was Valve’s entry into the VR hardware space. The Valve Index Headset is a 1st party headset tied to the SteamVR platform, will be announced on May 1st, and will likely ship on June 15.
In the last 24 hours, Valve accidentally leaked some information on Steam which has later been confirmed by the company. Confirmed information includes integrated headphones, included power adapters, display port 1.2 and USB 3.0 connections, and the absence of the virtual link single cord standard. The Valve Knuckles Controllers, now dubbed Index Controllers will also release around this time.
Unconfirmed information is also turning up on Reddit thanks to various users conducting their own research. One interesting theory is how current HTC Vive owners might be the best market for this product. Valve isn’t pulling any punches with their marketing slogan of “Upgrade Your Experience” and they might actually follow through. It’s very likely that the Valve Index Headset will be sold in a variety of bundles thanks to SteamVR’s open ecosystem. Current Vive owners will be able to use their 1st gen Vive Controllers and base stations with the new headset. This should keep the cost down for those looking to upgrade their optics and audio without dumping a ton of money into an entire VR system.
The Valve Index Headset will likely use a 1440 x 1600 OLED Panel which is the same as the Vive Pro’s and Oculus S refresh. This resolution appears to be the sweet spot for VR in 2019 because it gets rid of the screen door effect, provides ample visual clarity, and is able to be powered by a majority of mid range graphics cards. This information was ‘leaked’ after consumers studied a video for an upcoming game and found icons that are strikingly similar to the upcoming headset and controllers. The game developer attached to the video has a well documented relationship with Valve.
The Valve Index Headset is a big deal because ever since VR made it’s resurgence, Valve has been on the sidelines managing SteamVR and promoting 3rd party headsets from HTC and Oculus. A Valve branded headset solidifies their commitment to VR and is already being marketed as the next generation of VR devices. I can’t wait to see what exclusive software Valve will inevitably tie to their new headset as they do their best to sell units. Back in Novemeber 2018, there were leaks that the headset would ship with The Half Life VR Prequel; fingers crossed.