When I first heard about the HP Omen X backpack early this year, I was cautiously optimistic. And thankfully, that hope was not misplaced. Although it's still a concept, HP had the VR-capable on display at a recent press event, and luckily for this journalist, the company was dishing out demos.
Similar to the Omen laptops, the backpack has a red and black motif. Even though I've grown tired of seeing this color scheme on gaming laptops and desktops alike, it looks edgy and daring on the backpack. Although HP was hesitant to relay any details, I was able to glean that the device weighed close to 10 pounds.
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Just like in the preliminary images, the top of the backpack features a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, a power button and jacks for a power cord and pair of headphones. The straps black cloth straps were nice and wide in order to dissipate the weight. A belt buckled snugly around my waist and kept the Omen X from slipping due to any sudden movement. On either side of the belt sits a holster for the hot-swappable batteries to keep the Omen X running. Without them, you can expect about an hour of battery life.
The device was very comfortable and was so light, I could barely feel it -- well almost. After having several people use the backpack before me, it was a little warm against my back. It wasn't hot enough to be uncomfortable, but it was definitely noticeable. Instead of being tethered to a desktop, the Vive headset was plugged into the ports on the backpack. In order to actually use the Vive however, the backpack relied on a Wi-Fi Direct connection with the nearby Omen X desktop.
Once the Omen X was securely fastened on my back, it was time to get some VR action going. For this demonstration, HP used the HTC Vive where I decided to put it through its paces on the Longbow game in The Lab Suite. Comprised of defending the castle walls from eight waves of marauders with a longbow. Despite moving between ramparts and shooting down advancing troops, I didn't notice any stuttering nor did I feel any simulation sickness. I made it to wave six before the walls were finally breached thus ending my demo.
Overall, HP's Omen X VR backpack delivered a surprisingly smooth gaming experience despite its concept status. I'm hoping to get some more time with the device in the near future, but with few backpacks in the wild and companies like Disney requesting them for test, it might be a while.