Announced a few months ago, the HP Z VR Backpack, a professional version of the Omen virtual reality backpack (HP’s Gaming range), is finally available.
HP entrusted us with the first unit available in France that we hastened to test during the last Days of the AFRV (French Association for Virtual, Mixed, Augmented Reality and 3D Interaction), an annual conference that brings together French academic and industrial experts, the last edition of which took place in Rennes from October 24 to 26, 2017.
Both in terms of presentation and in terms of its technical sheet, the HP Z VR Backpack impresses. Its flawless build quality demonstrates HP’s expertise in the field. Its robustness combined with a pleasant aesthetic make this hybrid PC a convincing professional product.
Hybrid PC ? Indeed, if the name of the product highlights the virtual reality backpack aspect, this HP Z VR Backpack remains a real professional workstation that can be used on a daily basis thanks to its dockstation.
This docking station allows the backpack to be connected to a screen the simplest in the world, to transform it into a desktop computer, the configuration of which is ideal for the development of real-time 3D applications or the design of digital models. : Intel core i7 7820HQ processor, NVIDIA Quadro P5200 graphics card (with 16 GB of RAM dedicated to the graphics part), 32 GB of RAM. (See technical sheet )
Some weaknesses quickly forgotten
The autonomy announced by HP is close to reality according to our tests. Tried in intensive conditions, the backpack can be used for over an hour without weakening. It may not seem like much, but HP is also providing an additional battery pack. The batteries are replaced hot, avoiding a long interruption and allowing the autonomy to be extended by as much, while recharging the first ones.
But let’s not forget, this solution is primarily aimed at a professional audience, who rarely immerse themselves continuously for more than an hour for design reviews or project reviews, for example.
We had some concerns about the weight. The entire backpack weighs a little over 4.5kg. It is far from excessive, and besides to our surprise, the weight is quickly forgotten. It is therefore ultimately not a constraint for extended virtual reality experiences.
Wireless VR headsets are highly anticipated by users. Cable remains today a strong constraint that constantly reminds us of reality.
The existing solutions that we have been able to test (KwikVR, TPCast) are certainly promising, but do not yet reach the quality expected by the most demanding users. The inherent latency of wireless transmission still shows limits.
In the mixed reality arena, Microsoft has struck minds with HoloLens, which it presents not as a mixed reality headset, but as a holographic computer. Although power is limited, the wireless experience with an on-board computer makes a big difference.
Here, HP seems to be winning its bet by bringing together the best of both worlds : the power of a real workstation and less constrained freedom of movement and movement.
(Editor’s note : for information, a wireless connection, using Miracast technology, can also display the content of the headset and use an external control screen. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to test this feature yet.)
As indicated in the introduction, we carried out this test on the occasion of the AFRV Days. In two days, we were able to have the solution tested by several dozen informed users and the positive feedback confirmed our test. Overall, the solution seduces with its dual-use workstation and backpack for VR. And some are already considering this option as part of a future replacement of their workstation.
Let’s get right to the point, we were convinced by the product. If we can blame him for one or two faults, we quickly get over the good ideas and the positive points are numerous.
With this backpack, HP has succeeded in its bet and now offers a complete and efficient virtual reality solution with its Windows Mixed Reality headset, as well as an integration of a module allowing you to directly connect an HTC Vive Business Edition.
- A real in-car VR PC, which can be used as a professional workstation the rest of the time
- Increased freedom of movement and movement
- Professional setup
- Well thought-out accessories
- Possibly high weight for very long working sessions
- Slightly low autonomy without additional batteries