Valve made headlines a bit ago by saying that the their new headset, the Valve Index, would be able to turn into a single-cord headset with the help of the VirtualLink USB-C cable. Valve has recently announced that this will no longer be available for the headset, and if you bought the cable from them, you have been fully refunded.
The current power source for the Index is not ideal, and rather bad. You have to have two cables running from your headset to your high-powered PC, and one more to a power outlet. This can be a bit frustrating the setting the headset up, especially when doing it in a common living room or basement. The base stations for tracking also require power from the wall, making this headset unlike any other we have seen in the past year. As most companies have been focusing on making tracking a one-stop place inside of the headset, Valve went the other way and has received some negative feedback. Below you can see the official statement that Valve released in regards to the headset.
“FOR MULTIPLE TECHNICAL REASONS WE NO LONGER BELIEVE THAT THE PRODUCT WOULD DELIVER THAT ADDED CONVENIENCE. FOREMOST ON THAT LIST IS RELIABILITY. OUR CURRENT TESTING INDICATES THE VR CONNECTION MAY FAIL TO ESTABLISH IN A RELIABLE MANNER. ADDITIONALLY, VIRTUAL LINK TECHNOLOGY HAS NOT BEEN WIDELY ADOPTED BY MANUFACTURERS, LAPTOPS IN PARTICULAR (WHERE A SINGLE CONNECTION COULD BE THE MOST BENEFICIAL), TRANSLATING TO VERY FEW PCS HAVING VIABLE PORTS FOR THE CONNECTION.”
Having a stable connection between your PC and your headset is vital in any sort of VR experience, and Valve knows that. Instead of plaguing their loyal customers with a more convenient option that in the end is less reliable, they kept the three-cord setup and are waiting for a more wide adoption of the VirtualLink USB-C. Although this alternative didn’t work out, Valve will still be hard at work making an alternative for the headset. The single cord idea was fantastic, but it mat be time to look forward with a wireless adapter for the headset.
The Rift and Vive have support for wireless adapters, and it is time that the Index gets involved. Adding this feature will ensure that the headset will continue to provide comfort and a great level of immersion, while maintaining the level of the best PC VR headset. We know the Rift and Vive headsets sales went up as the wireless adapters came out, and we would expect the same thing from the Index. The Index sales are doing just fine as the start of August roles around, but we would expect them to go up at least 50% as the three-cord setup is ditched. Finding an alternative to the original setup is going to be imperative to the headsets future as all of the newest headsets are featuring not only one cable connections, but complete wireless tracking as well.
Although the VirtualLink didn’t work out, we still believe in Valves ability to get the job done. They have been the leading company in virtual reality for the last few years, and this year we saw them build the best PC headset up to date. The company clearly knows what they are doing and they have a backup plan in place, now the industry will be waiting on them to reveal it. We hope it is sooner rather than later, as the Valve Index is incredibly fun to play on, and will only be getting better with more solutions to its connectivity.