One of the biggest flaws with virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is that they have to be tethered to your computer like some kind of cyborg marionette. So if you move around too much, you’ll inevitably end up tangled in wires.
That’s where HP’s Omen X backpack PC comes in. A fully functional PC that your strap to your back, the Omen X backpack gives you the ability to move freely while playing VR games without having to worry about tripping over any pesky wires. It sounds super weird. But after taking the backpack for a spin, I’m a believer.
The Omen X pack, or as HP calls it, the Omen X VR PC Pack, is a test mule the company is using to determine if it should bring the wearable PC to market. The pack itself weighs less than 10 pounds and feels surprisingly lightweight when you pop it on. The straps are sturdy and well-padded, and the added belt clip helps ensure the pack doesn’t move too much while you’re playing.
All of the myriad wires and connectors you need to plug into your PC fit right into the Omen X pack’s various ports. Two large rechargeable batteries situated on the front of the pack’s straps power the PC. HP says positioning the batteries in such a way helps balance out the Omen, making it more comfortable to wear.
Inside the Omen X, you’ll find the same kind of high-end components that power many of today’s more impressive gaming machines, including Intel’s latest generation Core i7 processor.
I put on the Omen X pack and strapped on HTC’s Vive headset, and after about 2 minutes didn’t even realize I had a computer on my back. And instead of worrying about where the wires were near my feet, I was able to fully immerse myself in the game I was playing. It was really quite impressive. That said, I imagine that I’d start to feel the PC’s weight after a few hours of gaming.
Once you’re finished gaming, you can put the Omen X down on a table or desk, plug it into a wall outlet and connect your monitor, keyboard and mouse to use it just like any other Windows 10 PC.
The Omen X VR PC Pack is still just a development kit, so don’t expect it to hit the market any time soon. Still, it’d be nice if HP could deliver it in time for the holiday season.
More from Dan: