The refined PC VR headset
As for the Index headset itself, it doesn't look much different than the Rift or Vive. But there are some notable upgrades once you dig a bit deeper. There's a huge emphasis on comfort here: The head strap is easy to put on, and you can secure it by turning a dial. There's no awkward velcro to fight with, like you'd find on the Rift and Vive.
A generous amount of plush cushioning covered in breathable microfiber cloth surrounds the eyepiece and rear head strap. There's also a dial to adjust the distance of the lenses to your eyes, which is particularly helpful if you're wearing glasses. And instead of headphones, the Index has two near-field speakers, which produce high-quality sound without even touching your ears.
Valve claims it wanted to make a headset that you could wear for hours without feeling fatigued, and it seems like it succeeded. The Index feels well balanced on my head, with none of the front heaviness that annoyed me on the wireless Oculus Quest.
As you'd expect, there's a ton of high-end tech inside the Index. It features two RGB LCDs each running at 1,440 by 1,600 pixels instead of the lower-resolution OLED panels on first-gen headsets. Valve says its LCDs feature 50 percent more subpixels, which means they'll look even sharper than an OLED panel at the same resolution.
The new displays can also run at 120Hz or 144Hz, a huge leap beyond the 90Hz refresh rate we've seen on most headsets. A higher refresh rate means your VR experience will look smoother -- assuming your computer can actually reach the higher frame rates required. The Oculus Rift S, the company's most recent half-hearted stab at a PC headset, actually scaled down its refresh rate to 80Hz from the original Rift's 90Hz. While Oculus is more focused on making its tech cheaper and easier to consume, Valve is taking the exact opposite approach.