To solve the problem of current tethered VR PC experiences, HP showed off a VR backpack that makes it easier to navigate the virtual world without the risk of tripping over cords in the real world. HP’s VR backpack is essentially a “wearable” PC—it packs in a full-size VR-capable PC into a backpack form factor, so all you need to do is add your own HTC Vive or Oculus VR goggles to start exploring new virtual worlds. Since the wires of the VR goggles connect to the backpack, rather than a stationary desktop or laptop, VR gaming becomes even more immersive and freeing.
After listening to feedback from its early testers, HP is ready to take its VR backpack primetime, and the company is releasing this premium and unique form factor as the Omen X Compact Desktop. Unlike the original model, which came with permanent shoulder straps, the Omen X Compact Desktop can be detached from the backpack and docked, allowing gamers to use this as a regular PC on the desk.
HP also made improvements from the concept, and the Omen X Compact Desktop addressed fan noise, heat transfer and performance issues, making it a more refined product.
When worn, the total weight of the backpack and the batteries weigh just under ten pounds, and HP has made refinements over the backpack skeleton design to make weight distribution more even. The angled design on the backpack also reduces heat transfer—the last thing you’d want is a sweaty back after a long VR session. The Omen X ecosystem comprises of several different components: you have the backpack skeleton where everything snaps into place, the compact Omen PC itself that attaches to the backpack, and battery packs.
With the backpack design, the straps are padded and the clips help adjust the backpack to a more comfortable fit on the body. The backpack also comes with a shortened headset cable for use with HP Vive or HP’s VR glasses.
The Omen X backpack comes with four hot swappable battery packs, of which two can be used while the second set of two can be charging. The PC comes with a small PC, so you can disconnect and swap out the battery packs without having to power down the backpack itself, and HP says that you should get about an hour of battery life per pair of battery. Giving the desktop-class performance, this seems like a great tradeoff.
After you’re done with your VR adventure, you can drop the Omen X into its desktop dock and use this as a gaming PC or a computer for work or play. On the Omen X itself, you have access to four USB Type-A ports, a single Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type-C port, combo audio jack, Vive Power port, HDMI 2.0 and Mini DisplayPort. The dock gives you five more USB Type-A ports along with an Ethernet jack, USB Type-C port, HDMI and DisplayPort.
Like other products from this year’s Omen line, the Omen X supports DTS Headphone X, which simulates surround sound when you’re gaming with headphones plugged in.
HP’s research shows that games make up 76 percent of all virtual reality content with tens of millions of users, and thankfully the Omen X supports VR without skimping on power despite its portable and mobile form factor.
With the Omen X, you’re getting up to an Intel 7th Generation Core i7 processor with unlocked options, factory overclocked Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU and up to 1TB of storage. HP claims that the advanced thermal design of the backpack allows for up to 10W of CPU overclocking headroom and 20W of GPU overclocking headroom.
The Omen Command Center software for the Omen X supports overclocking, network traffic optimization and lighting control for the chassis of the desktop.
Unfortunately, in the US, you can’t buy the complete ecosystem together. The Omen X is sold as a bundle with the dock, making it a compact PC, for $2,499. The Omen X is expected to become available in late July on HP.com.
At this price, you’re getting a factory overclocked Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics with 8GB RAM, an Intel Core i7-7820K processor that’s unlocked for overclocking, 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. The backpack, battery charging dock, four batteries and a shortened headset cable for HTC Vive is sold separately as a $599 accessory package.
Users in other regions can get both the compact desktop and the backpack accessory together as a bundle. However, HP has not revealed pricing for the full bundle. Likely, if you’re investing in the compact desktop, it wouldn’t make sense to not get the backpack and batteries to take your gaming to the next level—you are getting this for the VR experience.