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Valve Index came today!

Discussion in 'VR Headsets and Sim Gaming - Virtual Reality' started by Trip Rodriguez, Jun 30, 2019.

  1. Trip Rodriguez

    Trip Rodriguez VR Pilot

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    The Valve Index came today!

    I will start with an updated and less fanboi update for you guys. I don't like to hype things up to where they disappoint but I was so happy with this upgrade I couldn't help myself: Here is my short review based on one night of play:

    Packaging: Excellent. Similar presentation to Rift CV1. Seriously classy cardboard. =D Very nice presentation. I got the HMD plus controllers (not full kit) so it came as two separate boxes packed inside a bigger ordinary box that was clearly set up specifically for that combination. I won't say more than that, we all know there will be plenty of unboxing videos on youtube...

    Knuckles Controllers: For the first minute or two I was disappointed by how they felt on my hands, but once I got the adjustments right (less than a minute or two) I was very satisfied with them. I love the bit of give the pressure sensitive grip has, they feel high quality. I was very content with Oculus Touch TBH, especially retroactively after having to go to HTC's awful wands. The Knuckles (That's what I'm calling them! Forever!) did not disappoint. they have a higher quality feel than any controller I've ever had in my hand, but not by a landslide. Functionally they are pretty excellent. If you've use touch, just think touch, but with capacitive tracking of all five fingers, a pressure sensitive grip that you can use to crush virtual objects, and the ability to let go of the controllers... which is taking a bit of getting used to. I keep gripping them out of habit. They feel like a decent step forward from Touch, and a whole marathon of steps forward from Vive controllers.

    A couple little things about the Knuckles. They are the first to feel good as both a gun, and as a sword type grip. That's a plus. They are definitely more immersive for picking up VR objects. Most importantly, they are the first VR controllers I've been able to easily throw objects with naturally. Right from the first time. Best bow and arrow experience so far too. Overall, I don't think we will see anything better than these for two years. Worth buying if you have lighthouse.

    One big down side on the Knuckles but almost certainly temporary: I was surprised that there's no proper integration ready to go in a lot of mainstream SteamVR games on day one. In most games I loaded this evening in VR I saw Vive Wands, and in basically anything other than the Valve demo I did not see any control interfaces made for the knuckles. Basically they are just emulating Touch controllers for now.

    Sound, if you've read about their amazing sound solution, they are not exaggerating. They sound better than anything I have ever heard, the positional audio is absolutely uncanny... comfort is a non issue, and standing two feet away from someone using it at 60% volume I could barely hear anything which blew me a way considering what happens when they are on you.

    I did of course discover that not all content is going to have the high end spatial audio effort put in to really take advantage of their unbelievable capabilities. The hand tutorial is traditional good Valve humor and worth playing through. Not quite as good as robot repair, but pretty fun and it is a stellar demo of what the headset speakers can do. I actually loaded it up a second time just to convince myself that my memory wasn't exaggerating.

    "The Lab" sounds good but not anything super special. Several other games I loaded up sounded either stellar or at least well above average. Full on positional audio obviously has to be built into the experience to work like I experienced with the hand lab.

    Display: The display is darned good. Is it a magic bullet to end all VR headset issues? No it's not, but I'm very very happy with the upgrade. Depending on the scene sometimes you can see the individual pixels clearly and sometimes not at all. I can't say I would call it screen door effect anymore at this level. And there is no way I could actually select and focus on a single pixel like I could with CV1 or OG Vive. The resolution looks higher than it sounds, and with the super fast display adding perceived clarity it's no wonder. I could effortlessly read every letter and number on every instrument in my DCS world cockpits. That is very definitely a first. Things just look sharp. I didn't see any of the "washed out" effect some people are saying you will get from and LCD display, but I'm no videophile. To me it looked great at all times, aside from the glare at times.

    The ultra fast refresh rate does make a HUGE difference. Turning my head as fast as I could everything stayed clear. Mind you that's more than just that high frequency display. The lenses are basically just one HUGE sweet spot. They are sharp right to almost the edges.

    FOV is not a huge leap forward if you were using a Vive with thin facial foam pressed right up to your face, but the second time I put it on I noticed the improvement more. It's not a slap-you-in the face improvement, but it's noticeable.

    Lenses. Glare/god rays/ etc. We have them. Do not expect any improvement in this regard. In some cases the glare is worse on index than on first gen HMD's, but in others I think the glare is reduce vs. them. Rock scissor paper kinda change. I think a scene that was just a bit god-ray stricken with the old HMD's is probably going to have little or nothing with Index, but get a really high contrast scene and there is no question.. you can not say that it's been "improved", just changed a bit.

    For anyone who likes VR gaming and is coming from HTC wands the controllers are a no-brainer. Sell off your youngest child or whatever it takes and get the ordered! Coming from Touch they are an upgrade for sure but probably not quite worth the expense unless we start getting a lot of content that really takes advantage of them.

    The HMD, well this is ridiculous but I kinda feel like it was worth getting the HMD just for the sound! I'm very very happy with the purchase and I think I will be quite content while waiting for the next generation over the next couple years.

    Oh, setup is super easy. Same as a Vive is now. SteamVR streamlined the hell out of room setup quite some time ago. You can arrive with a tower and a box of stuff and have VR up and running in ten minutes. I love lighthouse.

    I'm sure I'm forgetting some stuff but I'm more than 24 hours past my bedtime so it will have to wait. My original text from after the first few minutes with the new gear in hand follows.

    One last note, this thing is unbelievably comfy to wear. It makes all my other HMD's just feel cheap. It even puts the venerable deluxe audio strap for Vive to shame a bit. Very similar in design, but with more nice padding and high quality components and design.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    I barely got to touch it so far (going back to that now) but I am a very happy customer. I love Valve...don't know why they get so much hate these days. Packaging was very nice. Product has a significantly more quality feel than even my Rift CV1. It just feels like seriously high end stuff. Unbelievably comfortable and the display is HOLY SHIT crystal clear. Keep in mind, I've never tried anything better than my CV1, OG Vive, and a Pimax 4K (yuck) that I immediately returned.

    Being accustomed to the OG Vive, as far as I'm concerned there is no SDE. I really truly have to make it a point to look for it, but yes it's there. Lenses seem amazing to me, don't know about the reflections issue yet but basically the whole lens is the sweet spot. The instruments in the DCS aircraft.... whoa. Text that was largely unreadable is now absolutely crystal clear.

    Coming from a CV1 and Vive both with ultra thin facial interface, the limiting factor for FOV with both of those and now the Index for me is seeing the edges of the screens.

    When I went from CV1 to Vive (because motion compensation) I didn't much notice the increased FOV, but the next time I put on the CV1 I felt like it was a pretty big FOV downgrade, to the point it really bothered me.

    Seems kinda the same with the Index. This time I definitely notice an improvement, but not night and day. Still, I imagine the next time I have occasion to strap on the Vive I'm going to feel the same way I did with the Rift.

    Did I mention comfort? Seriously, this thing makes me feel like I'd hope for if I was trying a $5,000 HMD. I doubt there can possibly be any VR headset that feels this good. Comfy as hell, super adjustable and stays put far better than any other I've tried. And I'm coming from OG Vive with the deluxe audio strap so the fact that I'm this impressed is saying something.

    Knuckles: I bought the knuckles as well (I refuse to call them anything else!). In fact the Knuckles were a 100% guaranteed purchase for me. I agonized over the HMD purchase. I haven't really got to use them yet (but I'm about to!) but I really like them.

    The first thirty seconds I put them on my hands I felt a bit disappointed, but as soon as I figured out how to adjust them properly they meet my expectations. I was a bit surprised to find that they kinda give in your hand. I knew about the grip sensors but expected the grip to just feel like hard plastic. They are kinda a bit springy and once you realize that it's not just because flimsy plastic it feels really really good.

    I never had much desire to play the VR boxing games, but as soon as I put these on I found myself throwing punches alone in a room with nothing turned on.

    I'll report back probably tomorrow with an update.
    • Informative Informative x 3
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  2. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR - The Next Generation Staff Member Moderator

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    You luck devil...us Aussies still can't order Index...have fun with your new high end VR toy!
  3. Trip Rodriguez

    Trip Rodriguez VR Pilot

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    Lucky indeed!

    Update: Dude... the headphones. =O

    I read all the articles so I knew the headphones were supposed to be amazing... but there is no way that prepared me for what I experienced!

    I've had two ~$150+ pairs of "7.1" surround sound headphones. They were nice headphones... I definitely think surround headphones are a gimmick. They never sounded remotely like the promised 'spatial sound', and I could never ever spin around with my eyes closed and point to the virtual source of the sound.

    When I cranked up the Index robot hands tutorial, before any idea of the quality and directionality of the audio had a chance to sink in I immediately took off the headset to go figure out why my speakers were on instead of the headset. Nope, no speakers. That was the headset. Crystal crystal clear audio... and spatial is a buzzword no longer.

    Even with my old 7.1 home theater surround setup despite having somewhat decent (but still nowhere near perfect IMO) directional audio you could always tell the mismatch of the size of the virtual space to the size of the room containing the speakers.

    First, the sound fit the virtual space 100% which I've never experienced before. Second.. the directional audio... I closed my eyes, spun around a bit, pointed to where the voice was coming from and when I opened my eyes and looked I was pointing directly 100% dead on at the robot that was speaking.

    I think if I could afford such things I would have paid $500 for these headphones as an add-on for my previous HMD's..... un freaking believable. Words can not describe. Wow.

    The stuff about the refresh rate is no BS either. I did the robot hands thing with the 144hz setting and I could turn my head as fast as I wanted and no motion blur whatsoever. This is kinda silly to say, but I feel like it was actually clearer then when I do it in real life.... maybe our universe needs low persistence and a higher refresh rate.... =P
    • Informative Informative x 5
  4. Trip Rodriguez

    Trip Rodriguez VR Pilot

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    Oh, to temper my enthusiasm: Reflections

    Ben at RoadToVR was the only reviewer I noted criticizing the Index lenses. I feel like he is always trying to avoid overly hyping something as fantastic and causing disappointment so he goes out of his way to try to tell you about the things that might cause disappointment if all you read in advance was glowing reviews.

    In the traditionally problematic dark scenes with bright objects, the reflections/glare are just as present as in first gen HMD's. The catch here (if you want to call it that) is that these are different. Too different to call better or worse. What Ben said was that they aren't "god rays" like CV1 and Vive.. they are reflections/glare of a different type.

    I think there is more area of the lens "lit up" by the bright object(s) than in those older headsets, but it's different. I can't say it's better or worse, just different. Basically it's like instead of those god rays stretching from the bright object out toward the edge of the lens in one or more places these are similar in appearance but they go more or less all the way around the outside perimeter of the lens without intruding much, if any, on the center . Still very annoying, wish they were gone for sure but not a deal breaker for me.

    Also, I think that with Index you only get this in a very dark scene, with my Vive and CV1 I feel like it was present in a lot of "average" kind of scenes. In what I'd call an average scene in the Index I didn't note the reflections at all. It is a very crisp image.. much bigger improvement than I expected from the specs even given the reviews that told me to expect better fill and no motion blur.
    • Informative Informative x 4
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  5. Trip Rodriguez

    Trip Rodriguez VR Pilot

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    Update on reflections/god rays. I discovered last night that you can trade a little FOV for much reduced god rays. Just move the adjustment out to move the lenses a little away from your eyes and it makes a big difference so depending on the content I will likely do that sometimes.

    I was amused after discovering this accidentally last night to see it mentioned in the Index RoadtoVR article today. =)
  6. dododge

    dododge Member Gold Contributor

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    Just a heads-up that a lot of people are reporting trouble clicking the thumbsticks while they're also pushed up/down/left/right. For example this could be a big problem for games where clicking the stick is how you switch from walking to running.



    There's a reddit discussion collecting feedback from users.

    One speculation is that the plastic "dome" part inside the controller may be a bit too large, and when the stick is tilted it bumps into the board when you try to click it.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. Zed

    Zed VR Simming w/Vive

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    I’ve only had a couple of days with mine but am very happy with it as well. For flying/driving, the higher frame rates are very apparent. And the sound is everything Trip says. The extra subpixels are a huge benefit and whites look great instead of checkerboarded.

    Down side is black levels are significantly lighter than Vive Pro OLED. It can get pretty noticeable in very dark scenes. Might be important in night driving or flying. Haven’t tested that yet.

    But all in all, this is an impressive headset.
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  8. dododge

    dododge Member Gold Contributor

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    Someone finally did a teardown and believes that it's not the dome but instead a more fundamental problem with the switch. This implies that a fix would require replacement of the controllers instead of a quick DIY procedure of filing some plastic off of the dome.

    They also found that the switches in the two controllers are mounted in different orientations, which is consistent with the [many] reports of one controller having the problem on the left-right axis while the other has it on the up-down axis.

    In another discussion I also saw someone claim that this problem existed in the initial "knuckles" controllers and was reported/discussed in the developer-only forums at the time, so they were surprised it didn't get dealt with before going to retail.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. dododge

    dododge Member Gold Contributor

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    It now seems that the core problem is that the metal rod on the switch isn't quite long enough. The same person managed a DIY fix by extending it with a mm or two of solder but obviously this is not a trivial solution for most folks. Someone reportedly also got it working by adding a filler piece of plastic in the hole, which may be a bit easier, but then the dome started rubbing on the faceplate and the stick no longer recentered properly, so the amount of extension/filler has to be done carefully.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  10. Zed

    Zed VR Simming w/Vive

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    I don’t use that functionality for now, luckily, but Valve will likely have to address this somehow or just disable that switch. Curious how it will go.