After accidentally leaking images of the headset last month, Valve has just officially announced how much the new Valve Index VR headset will cost and when it'll go on sale. Per the software juggernaut, it will be available in a bundle with the new controllers starting on June 28 for $749 (around £575, AU$1,060) with pre-orders opening up tomorrow.
That said, the aforementioned bundle doesn’t include the lighthouse sensors. You’ll either need to supply your own from a previous-generation HTC Vive headset or step up to the $999 (around £765, AU$1,400) Valve Index package that includes the controllers, the headset and the trackers.
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If that all sounds like a lot of money to spend at one time, however, Valve is doing something that no other company has done before: sell everything piecemeal.
If that’s the route you want to go down, you can expect to drop $499 for the Index Headset, $279 for the Index Controllers and $149 for the new base stations. (Weirdly, from the numbers provided by Valve you can seemingly buy the $749 Valve Index VR bundle and the $149 tracking stations separately to save $100…)
Valve picked an interesting day and time to announce its headset, dropping all this information minutes before the start of today's Facebook F8 keynote where Mark Zuckerberg announced the price and release date of the company's new Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S headsets that will ship in May for just $399.
And you thought the games were expensive…
The Valve Index's price probably requires a bit of an explanation. It's definitely pricey, but Valve has really tried to make the best VR headset on the market in terms of specs.
According to information available on the Steam Store, the Index will use an LCD RGB display with a 1440×1600 per-eye resolution – which, according to Valve, provides 50% more subpixels than the rival OLED screen used in the Oculus Quest.
The Index will run at a native 120Hz refresh rate, with 90Hz backwards compatibility and an experimental 144Hz mode. On top of all that, the Index VR headset has a 20-degree wider field-of-view than the other headsets on the market.
These are game-changing specs, and would help rationalize the price.
That said, picking today of all days to announce a new headset is a risky move. On one hand, Valve's new headset is giving bleeding-edge consumers a new top-tier headset to lust over, but it also shows that Valve could be out of touch with consumers who have flocked to cheaper VR headsets like PlayStation VR in great numbers.
Regardless, more competition and more investment in VR from all sides of the aisle is a very good thing and only helps move the industry as a whole forward. We'll look forward to trying the headset out for ourselves when it launches later this year.
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