Review Valve Index VR – The Good and the Bad of the Latest PC Virtual Reality Headset

hey everybody gets lines I’ve been and today we’re taking a look at the new valve index VR headset I’ve been playing with this for the last couple of days and I’m ready to give you my thoughts on it I’m kind of torn because I have a lot of things I’m not happy about including valves customer support but there are things that I do like and I’m going to give you the good the bad and the reality here in the course of this review I’ve been a big fan of Virtual Reality overall since it came out on the PC a couple of years ago I was an owner and still AM of a first generation HTC vive I bought it right when it came out and I was totally blown away by how great that experience was I was expecting more out of this product and unfortunately it does not yet deliver what I was hoping it would but I do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that I paid the full $1000 price tag for this kit out of my own funds all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own nobody is paying for this review nor has anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it is uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this headset is all about so let’s take a closer look now at the hardware I upped it to go with the full kit which includes the headset two sensors that you have to hook up in your room and two of these knuckle controllers again the cost on that full kit was $1,000 now if you have an existing HTC vive you don’t need to buy everything you could just buy the headset for example or you could buy the headset and the controllers or if you just want to play around with the controllers you can buy them

separately and use it with your existing vive set up in fact the first-generation HTC vive sensors will work with the new system but the new sensors work better they have a longer range they tend to be a little bit more accurate and I found them to be better in my room because I was able to space them a little bit further apart now the way you set the sensors up is that you have to mount them on opposite corners of your room the new sensors now have some additional mounting options including a wall mount what I do with mine is I bought some cheap light stands that you might use for photography or video and I mounted them on the top of those with a little adapter they have basically tripod mount holes on them so you can even use a traditional tripod if you want just to get them set up recommend to get them as high as possible which is why those cheap light posts seem to work the best for me but you can even drill them into your wall if you are setting up a permanent installation but you do need those sensors because without them this thing doesn’t work at all I was very pleased with the headset in my initial experience with it because one of the things that this headset brings to the mix is a higher resolution over the first-generation HTC vive it also has a higher resolution versus the new oculus rift s so what you’re going to get out of each eye is a 1400 by 1600 resolution on it and it’s noticeably better when you first put it on the field of view is also better and you’ll have a better experience if you don’t wear glasses because what you can do of course is adjust the headset distance here to accommodate glasses but when you push it out further the field of view becomes a little bit more narrow but it really is a noticeable difference it will fill up your field of vision more than the original HTC vive did and I was very very impressed with that initial first experience because everything looked better was higher resolution a better field of view and the other thing that this headset can do differently than other VR systems is deliver your VR experience at a higher frame rate it’ll go from 90 to 120 to 144 Hertz depending on how you have it configured and how powerful your computer is and all together that combination of faster frame rate higher resolution and better field of view provided a much better initial experience for me when I got started with it but there are some issues that have cropped up since then which I’ll get to in a few minutes now valve went with a different display technology versus some of the other VR headsets that are out on the market they went with LED displays in here and they did that so they can hit those higher frame

rates most of the other VR headsets out there use ole Ed’s and the difference between OLED and LED is that OLED delivers a much deeper black a much better contrast ratio which makes a difference I think when you’ve got a headset on especially if you’re playing a game that’s set in space so as a result you will see a little bit more of a glow around blacks on this headset but I do think it’s a fair trade-off in the sense that the image quality is so much better out of here that you don’t really notice the difference in contrast ratio but if you are someone who is sensitive to that sort of thing it will be something you will notice and it is a different kind of display than what you might be accustomed to in other VR devices now in the front of the headset you can take off this front visor and underneath it is something called the front and here is something that valve hopes developers will begin making things for there’s a USB port in here so you could add things maybe like a hand sensor or some other device that would plug in at the time I’m recording this video there is nothing yet to go in the front but valve is hoping that some hardware developers might start thinking of things that you can attach to your VR a headset and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of fun ideas develop as time goes on on the front here are two cameras and these are not used for tracking but they are used for allowing you to see what is outside your VR environment you can actually overlay reality with your virtual reality which might be helpful for avoiding obstacles if you’re trying to step a little bit beyond the boundaries that

you’ve set or perhaps some AR apps that might come out in the future so you have that option there and of course there are two cameras here which will give you some 3d stereo vision the audio here is also very nice it’s integrated onto the headset itself so these little headphones here just sit over your ears they don’t touch your ears and you can very easily push them out of the way if you want to have a conversation with somebody in the room they’re not as good as a pair of you know over the ear headphones might be that’s what I was using before but it’s a lot more convenient now just to have these things available and the audio fidelity on them is very nice and surprisingly good so that was a good experience putting the headset on is also easier than the vive in my experience what you do is just tilt the headset up like so and you put it over the back of your head and then just lower it down and get it adjusted there’s a knob here on the back for tightening it and there’s also a velcro strap here on the top but it’s much easier to get in and out of and it’s also much easier if you have friends over to get them into the experience pretty quickly now while it is easy to get the headset put on I did find that it was not always comfortable during extended play sessions and that is due to the fact that there’s no padding here by the nose and this is where I was feeling the most amount of discomfort over a longer play session so maybe they can add something here to just make that part a little bit more comfortable I did find though that it isolated light much better than my HTC vive did so I’m not getting

that much light leaking in from the bottom like I did on that other headset and I also like the fact that the padding here is very easily removable so I can see getting a couple of different pads here for when friends come over you can very easily swap them out and clean them because you can get kind of sweaty inside one of these VR headsets they have a few other adjustments to take a look at one is down here this is the IPD adjustment and what this does is it moves the lenses back and forth based on what your interview paleri distance is which is basically the distance between the pupils of your eyes one of the challenges though is actually figuring out what that measurement is and I’m looking for some advice on that what I’ve been doing is just going into the VR a home screen and then just trying to get it set to what looks the best to me but it would be nice to get a better idea of that as you move this you will get an on-screen indicator as to exactly where the position of the lenses are as you would just it now like any PC VR system there is a cable that will tether you to your computer at all times so you want to make sure that you have enough room before you get started otherwise you might rip your computer off the desk or something but I found the cable lengths to be very good in fact it’s a little bit longer than my HTC vive Cable was all of my connectors on my PC are in the back of my tower and it had enough room for everything now on the other end of the cable there are three connectors one is for power the other to connect to your computer there’s a USB 3.0 cable that has to get plugged into a

USB 3.0 slot on the back of your computer many computers have USB 2.0 slots back there too so you want to make sure you plug it into the right port so that it actually works the other thing you’ll need is a full-size DisplayPort port and you’ll find that on the back of your graphics card most graphics cards on the desktop have the full-size connector which looks like this here but if you have a high-end gaming laptop you I have a mini DisplayPort connector and then one of these adapters will work just fine to get it all up and running I use this adapter on my Alienware laptop and everything worked out just great your computer may have a thunderbolt port you could plug in a USB C to display port adapter there to get the same result so just make sure you’ve got all the right things before you get started unfortunately they don’t pack in any adapters in the Box so if you don’t have a full size DisplayPort connector you’ll need to get one select shift gears now to the controller and I really like the design of these controllers but right now they are significantly flawed it’s all fixable but I think everyone who got these early is going to have to send them back and I’ll talk about why in a minute now the concept here is that the controller is not something you hold but something that holds on to you so when you put your hand in the controller like so you pull on this cable to get it tight and then it will sit

in your hand even if you start flopping around with it it doesn’t go anywhere it’s very comfortable I think and it’s kind of a neat approach to VR because you don’t have to hold anything unless you are holding something in the virtual environment and when you do hold on to something it will detect the position of your fingers as you do it I did find that you have to get your hand position properly in the controller so it can recognize all three of these fingers the right way there are capacitive sensors here in the grip that detect when those fingers are placed down it’ll also detect how hard you’re gripping the controller to so you can adjust that in the game that you’re playing and of course the games have to support that your index finger is controlled here on the trigger but it also can very finely detect when you place that finger down and then your thumb will be detected when it touches the top of the controller here it’s really cool it actually works out quite well and I just like this notion of the controller holding on to you versus the prior HTC vive controllers that valve also designed that required being held at all times it works just a lot better the controller really works well in one of my favorite games beat Sabre because on the the HTC vive controller I was constantly hitting the button here at the bottom by accent which was pulling up the menu that is no longer happening with these controllers you really have to work to get the menu pulled up by pushing on to this button here so that is good and it tracks very well all great but here’s the problem these controllers have a significant problem with their thumb stick here so what happens right now is that if you have the thumb stick pushed all the way over to the left or the right you can’t click this thick it just doesn’t click so that’s something that is going to impact games that

would require some kind of thumb stick click the other issue is that when you have the the thumb stick in a full position like pushed all the way back or forward it loses its connection and a lot of VR games do something called teleporting where if you want to go further away then your VR space allows you to do you can hold down the thumbstick and kind of push it in the direction that you want to go it’ll pull up a little thing on screen so you can adjust exactly where you want to land and then you let go of the stick and it will drop you off in that spot what’s happening here though is the second I push it all the way forward it just automatically moves me forward because it’s losing its connection here at the top so there’s something really wrong with this thumb stick and there’s a lot of people right now on the valve index reddit forum that are having the same exact issue and I think those of us who got this on the first batch will likely be sending these controllers back for repair it’s a physical hardware problem that will not be addressable via software unfortunately but the controllers are not the only issue I am having with the valve index I’m also having optical issues with the headset itself when I first put this on the other night the first thing I noticed was that I was seeing a bit of a jelly vision as I was moving my head back and forth this is an effect in the digital video world known as rolling shutter when you moved the camera too quickly things that are square sometimes get distorted as you can see in this example that I’m running right now and I’m seeing that to a lesser extreme inside the headset and it’s very distracting and I’ve tried everything to rectify it I’ve tried to get the headset adjusted the right way on my head I have done everything I can

think of and I cannot get that effect to go away it was never on my vibe it is very notice on the index I went out onto the reddit group for the valve index and posted my experiences and nobody else seems to be having the same problem so I think it might be a defect with this particular headset and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get it fixed now unfortunately though valves customer service is not known for being very good and I was hoping that perhaps given that there’s not that many people who own these at the moment and they’re investing a lot of the company’s resources into the development that there would actually be somebody to respond to my customer service requests but we’re now a couple of days into my ticket being filed and I have yet to hear back from anybody I just want to jump in from the Edit Bay here I did get a response late last night after the video was shot saying that they received my trouble ticket and coincidentally this came in just a few minutes after I tagged them on a community post on my youtube channel so I’ll have to see if we get any resolution to this but we’re not there yet I then just tried to return it because I figured you know what if they’re not going to get back to me I may as well send it back and I mean you buy it back again when they get all the kinks worked out but when you go to fill out the refund request it just flat out the knives you automatically and people with controller problems have no way to submit a ticket at all you get to a screen where it asks you what is wrong with the controller and there’s nothing to do there’s no options no form to fill out nothing and you’re kind of stuck to just go back to the reddit forum and hope that

maybe somebody from valve is listening it might try to help you and I’m stuck with something that isn’t working properly for the price that I paid for it and I can’t even get a refund requested so I’ll give them a couple more days but I think what I may end up doing is just file a charge back to get their attention because right now I’ve got a broken controller and a somewhat dysfunctional headset and I just want it resolved I really like it but it’s not working the way it should and I think valve needs to really step up their customer service game especially if they want to get into this kind of stuff this is not some digital good they’re reselling on behalf of somebody else this is their product and they were completely unprepared to support it when it was released and I would strongly advise anyone looking to buy one of these things to hold off until they get everything figured out so manufacturing issues aside I do think this headset has potential to be the best one out there at least as far as some of these first generation VR experiences are concerned I don’t consider this a generation 2 product it still feels very much the same as my HTC vive did with some improvements and you also have to factor in the power of your PC now upstairs I have a gaming PC that I built about four and a half years ago it has a fourth-generation Haswell i7 processor and a GTX 1080 GPU that

was more than enough for my HTC vive I was able to have great 90 frames per second experiences across the board and never really had anything that I could see was a problem but when I switched this thing into 120 Hertz mode I was seeing even beat Sabre was having a hard time keeping up and the reason is is that my gaming PC upstairs although it has a decent GPU doesn’t have enough memory bandwidth really to keep up with the demands of running this game at 120 frames per second so as a result my computer wasn’t showing itself being maxed out but it just wasn’t delivering the frame rates I then tried out my Alienware laptop which has a newer I think seventh generation i7 chip a gtx 1070 but it was running with ddr4 ram which has more memory bandwidth and what do you know that lower powered GPU in the laptop was delivering better performance than my gaming desktop computer with that 1080 inside of it so I think for the ideal valve index experience you’re probably looking at a three or four thousand dollar expenditure when you factor in the cost of the headset the controller’s the sensors and the PC that you need to drive this at its full potential and unfortunately valve doesn’t seem to be approaching this market the way they should this is a premium product that should have premium customer service along with it and that is lacking at the moment my advice to you all is that if you don’t have a super current gaming PC with at least a 10 70 or greater GPU you might be better off looking at the vibe or the oculus rift because those are lower resolution devices that are running at lower frame rates that might be more compatible with your hardware because you may not be able to use this thing to its full potential with what you have for your PC at the moment if you have something more current than definitely it’s worth considering but again there is a steep price tag to this versus some of the other VR headsets and although it does look better once you’re in a VR game and experiencing things I don’t think

you’re going to be missing anything by opting for a less expensive option this also speaks to some of the complexity of PCV are those of us who are into building gaming PC’s and understand all the nuances of GPU CPU memory speed and all that kind of stuff this is fine but I think for general consumers that want to experience VR this is just too much in fact even the lower-cost headsets are too much to factor in when you have to think about all these different things beyond just the purchase of the device itself and I think that is why the oculus quest is becoming so interesting to consumers and it’s unfortunate given how good this VR experience is on the PC that more consumers can’t enjoy it but right now it’s just too complicated for them and this thing does add a layer of complexity that even the other PC VR units don’t have it’s easy to set up but it’s very difficult to get optimized for its full potential that’s going to do it for this one let me know what you thought down in the comments below and until next time this is lion Simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the lon TV supporters including gold level supporters the four guys with quarters podcasts Tom Albrecht Brian Parker and Kali and Kumar if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month at over two lon TV slash support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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