Despite costing a whopping $999 / £919, Valve's Index VR headset has been in high demand ever since pre-orders went live at the beginning of May. So much so that the headset sold out within half an hour of pre-orders opening in the US, causing Valve to push back the Index's original shipping date of June 28th to the end of September. Now, however, it seems Valve have finally got their VR ducks in a row, as the 'full kit' Index (which includes the headset, controllers and two base stations) is "now available for immediate shipping in the US".
"Initial quantities were outpaced by demand so, as a result, users were asked to reserve their hardware as new kits were in production," Valve said in an emailed statement. "Starting today, immediate orders are available for customers in the US and a similar announcement will be forthcoming for other US SKUs as well as those in other international territories. All prior reservations will be honored."
Those other SKUs, you may recall, include the standalone headset, which costs £459 / $499, and the headset plus controllers, which will set you back £689 / $749. These Index bundles are for anyone who already owns an HTC Vive or Vive Pro headset, as both the controllers and base stations used in HTC's VR setup are cross-compatible with the Index headset. Alas, both of these cheaper Index options are still on back-order at the moment, although hopefully we won't have to wait too long before they, too, start shipping immediately.
I haven't had a chance to test the Index myself yet, but so far most reviews have been pretty positive. The screen itself isn't actually any sharper than the Vive Pro's, with each lens offering a resolution of 1440x1600, but the combination of a higher 120Hz refresh rate (which can be lowered back down to 90Hz to make it compatible with older VR games) and finger-tracking controllers seem to have got a lot people very excited about it.
I must admit, the controllers do sound pretty cool, especially when their built-in strap means you don't necessarily have to be holding them in order for them to keep tracking your hand movements. However, that's still that's a heck of a lot of money to splash out on headset that you've still got to have tethered to your PC, and I don't think even nifty finger-tracking controllers would tempt me into buying one over, say, the tether-free Oculus Quest.