I’ll start by saying that like many of you here, I have a lot of experience with VR. I started using VR with the Oculus DK1 and have since own the DK2, CV1, Vive, Gear VR, Oculus Go, PSVR, Vive Pro, Pimax 5k+, Pimax 8k, Odyssey+ and Oculus Quest. My main PC VR headset for the past while has been the Vive Pro with the wireless adapter. I put off picking up an Index, mainly because I didn’t want to go back to tethered VR. I haver absolutely no self control, so I broke down and ordered an Index a few weeks ago and it arrived today.
Right off the bat, the thing that stood out was how comfortable the Index was. It fit perfectly and generally felt very well balanced. That feeling was further enforced after a 2.5hrs play session, where it was just as comfortable at the end of the session as it was at the beginning. Huge points here. Of all the HMDs I’ve owned, this is definitely the most comfortable.
The next thing I noticed was how smooth movement was. Going to 120Hz is a really nice upgrade and you really can feel the difference. Everything felt smoother, which ended up giving a greater sense of presence. I played with 144Hz a little bit, but didn’t notice as big of a difference, although I only tried it in the SteamVR Home environment. I’ll try it in a game during my next play session, to see how it does in-game. For reference, I’m running a 9900k (5Ghz on all cores) and a 2080ti (overclocked to just above 2Ghz).
The clarity of the Index is a huge improvement over the Vive Pro, which has a fairly tiny ‘sweet spot’. It was extremely easy to put on the Index and get a really clear image. Even looking around, without moving my head, showed much better clarity at the edges than other HMDs. Quite impressed with this.
Having the wider FOV was pretty nice, as I removes a lot of the ‘goggles’ feeling you get with the Vive Pro. I was very worried about distortions due to the wider FOV, as I had terrible experiences with the Pimax with edge distortion. I was saddened when I started to notice some minor, yet annoying warping at the edge of my vision. Thankfully, that warping was resolve by moving the lenses closer to my eyes, as I has previously moved them all the way out when fiddling with the headset after taking it out of the box.
The last positive I’ll mention are the speakers. These are absolutely fantastic. Are they the best sounding speakers on the planet? Absolutely not. They perform really well though and can create a very realistic soundstage around you. Also, not having headphones on your ears really helps to keep you cooler while playing.
Now for the negatives.
The first downside I noticed was how dull the colours were compared to nearly all the HMDs I’ve owned. It’s very noticeable, but thankfully it’s something you stop noticing after a while. I’ll see if it starts to bother me as I use it more or if I just completely get used to it.
Black levels aren’t great at all on the Index, showing more as a grey. I didn’t play anything that was significantly dark, so I don’t know how this will ultimately affect gameplay. It’s something I’ll pay more attention to the next time I play.
I’ve heard a ton of complaints about ‘god rays’ on the Index. They’re definitely present, but I found them significantly less distraction on the Index than the Vive Pro. I consider this improvement a positive, but ‘god rays’ in general are a negative I hope we can completely do away with some day.
The biggest negative is the damn cable. I definitely didn’t miss being tethered. It’s a PITA, but one I’m considering living with yet again.
I’m not going to comment on the Index controllers, as I’ve owned them for a while now, so nothing new for me there. I’ll simply say that all Vive owners should get them, as they’re a major upgrade over the Vive controllers.
At the end of my play session with the Index, I found myself considering packing up my Vive Pro and selling it. I definitely didn’t expect that. I’m not going to do that quite yet though, as I want to spend more time with the Index. For all I know, the negatives may start outweighing the positives and it’ll be the Index that ends up being sold. For now, my Vive Pro is being put to the side at the Index will be my PC based HMD.
TLDR; The Index isn’t a perfect HMD, but its benefits are really making me consider giving up my wireless Vive Pro and going back to a tethered solution.