Valve is to open pre-orders for its Index virtual reality headset and matching controllers, formerly known as Knuckles, today with UK pricing starting at £459 headset-only and £689 with bundled controllers.

First unveiled back in April, Valve's Index headset is designed as an own-brand alternative to the Vive it worked on with smartphone manufacturer HTC. Paired with the company's Knuckles controllers, now known as the Index Controllers, the headset is claimed to offer considerable improvements in visual fidelity and tracking - including individual finger tracking - over the competition.

The Index headset is based on LCD, rather than OLED, display technology for, Valve claims, a reduction in 'screen door' effect and and an improvement in sharpness; each eye has an effective resolution of 1,440 x 1,600 for a combined 2,880 x 1,600 - equivalent to HTC's Vive Pro. The display refreshes at 120Hz as standard with an experimental 144Hz overdrive mode, though Valve claims games designed for 90Hz refresh rates will be fully compatible without modification, and comes with an 'optical canting' system to balance the field of view (FOV) in central and peripheral vision without developers needing to get involved with the nitty gritty. As with the previously-announced prototypes, the Index Controllers offer per-finger grip tracking - meaning it's entirely possible to pick up and throw objects in VR by opening and closing your grip, or flip your opponent the virtual bird. The headset also includes a front expansion slot, accessories for which have not yet been announced.

All this, though, comes at a cost: The headset-only pack is priced at £459 and requires controllers and tracking base stations from a Vive or Vive Pro to operate; the Valve Index Base Stations, which claim improved responsiveness and greater tracking angles than the Vive equivalents, cost £139 each; the Valve Index Controllers, meanwhile, are £259 the pair (all prices inc. VAT).

For those who are not upgrading from an existing full VR setup, Valve has two bundles: £689 packs together the headset and Index Controllers, while the full Valve Index VR Kit includes the headset, controllers, and two base stations at £919 (both inc. VAT). The company has also announced a two-pack of replacement face gaskets for the headset and a VirtualLink USB-C adapter cable, both with no pricing yet available.

Valve pledges to begin shipping the Valve Index hardware to UK buyers by the 28th of June. More information, and the pre-order links once they go live later today, is available on the Steam page. The company has also pledged to release a 'flagship' VR game this year to support the device, though has not clarified whether this will finally be the year it gets over its aversion to the number three and delivers any of its long-awaited sequels.


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