HP has reworked the backpack PC concept it unveiled last year and is now ready to put the computer on sale.
The Omen X Compact Desktop is a surprisingly slim and light gaming PC that's meant to be strapped to your back and used for VR. The idea sounds strange, but several companies have been trying it out as a way to let gamers to walk around in virtual reality without tripping over the many cables that need to stretch from a VR headset back to a PC.
HP has made some design changes since it first unveiled the backpack PC last year, opting for a (relatively) more toned-down style.
But the single biggest change is the introduction of a dock for the computer, which transforms it into a standard desktop PC. It's a smart addition that makes the Omen X Compact seem less frivolous and solves the concept model’s biggest problem: the PC is no longer just for VR — you can now set it down and use it for desktop gaming (or general computing), too. You could do that without the dock, but the dock allows for a monitor, keyboard, and other accessories to stay plugged in, making it a lot more convenient.
I got to wear the Omen X Compact for a few minutes during a briefing last month, and I was surprised at just how small and light the PC was. It’s very possible the weight would get more noticeable over the course of a prolonged gaming session, but in the few minutes I was standing around in it, I hardly noticed I had it on.
HP is outfitting the Omen X Compact with Kaby Lake i7 processor options and a GeForce GTX 1080. It’s also pretending like you might buy this PC for reasons other than VR — in case you really want a PC that mounts on a detachable pedestal / dock, I guess — and so the computer itself is being sold separately from the backpack parts needed to take it portable. The computer alone will start at $2,499, and the backpack accessory starts at $599.99. Both will be available in July.
The Omen X Compact won’t be the only backpack PC available when it launches. But HP’s addition of the dock goes a long ways toward making it easier to buy into this form factor, which could be enough to give it the edge for any gamers interested in this experimental new shape of PC.