Gaming company Valve pioneered VR as we know it today, creating a sophisticated tracking system and prototyping several headsets. It runs the popular SteamVR platform, and it’s partnered with HTC on the Vive system. But it hasn’t actually produced a VR headset. That’s changing with the Valve Index: a high-end, PC-tethered headset that starts shipping today.
The Valve Index is specialized and expensive even by VR’s standards. It costs $999, which is more than twice as much as the $399 Oculus Rift or $499 HTC Vive. Like those systems, you’ll need a gaming PC to use it. If you need convenience and portability, it’s not the right choice. You can find headsets with higher resolutions or wider fields of view. But for people who spend a lot of time in VR, it offers solid visuals, thoughtful hardware design, and the coolest VR controllers on the market.