What It’s Like to Try a Virtual Reality “Backpack”

Playing games or watching films in virtual reality can be surreal, but the high-end experiences like those offered by the Oculus Riftand HTC Vive have some restrictions. Namely: Both headsets need to be tethered to a PC, limiting how far you can move from your computer while wearing them. And the cables themselves can quickly become a nuisance while you’re moving about in the physical world as you simultaneously navigate the digital one.

PC makers have been busy thinking up novel solutions to this problem. One idea: HP, Alienware, and MSI have unveiled concepts for virtual reality “backpacks,” super-slim computers meant to be worn on the user’s back with a special vest. I recently had the chance to try HP’s version. While the company isn’t selling the computer yet, it is shipping units to partners so they can learn more about the new form factor.

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