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HP’s tak­ing its gam­ing seg­ment very se­ri­ously, and this could well be its most ex­cit­ing prod­uct yet

PC & Tech Authority - - LOGIN - David Holling­worth

HP en­ters the game with a back­pack VR PC ................................................................

Afew years ago if you’d told me I’d be drool­ing over some HP hard­ware – that’s Hewlett Packard – I’d as­sume you were ei­ther pulling my leg, or tak­ing ad­van­tage of my bizarre ap­pre­ci­a­tion for pow­er­ful work­sta­tions that I’ll never, ever make the most of. But, here we are in 2017, and I am in­cred­i­bly ex­cited by HP’s new­est gam­ing line-up, which is a tes­ta­ment to how se­ri­ously the com­pany is tak­ing the seg­ment.

It’s a com­plete range, too, in­clud­ing desk­tops and lap­tops, mice and mon­i­tors, and even a very el­e­gant video card en­clo­sure to power up any lap­top into a gam­ing pow­er­house. It’s all slick, ag­gres­sively de­signed, and primed to take ad­van­tage of the on­go­ing groundswell in PC gam­ing hard­ware sales.

But it’s HP’s e€orts to sup­port VR that is re­ally in­trigu­ing. Perseus is HP’s e€ort at mak­ing a back­pack PC to sup­port room-scale vir­tual set­ups, such as the HTC Vive. These rigs con­nect to a PC via long ca­bles to try and o€er some mo­bil­ity, but the sheer length and weight of those con­nec­tions can be quite awk­ward. Car­ry­ing your PC on your back is a much bet­ter so­lu­tion.

What hasn’t been great, so far, are the back­pack PCs on o€er – most of them are just that: full scale ma­chines tacked onto a back­pack frame, and they’re both hot and heavy. Perseus is nei­ther, and it’s also re­mark­ably ver­sa­tile. First o€, this is the small­est back­pack PC we’ve seen, a small form fac­tor PC that is light and well-made, but still hous­ing a Core i7 pro­ces­sor and a GTX 1080. The back­pack frame it­self has a mil­i­tary pedi­gree, thanks to HP’s own back­ground sup­ply­ing hard­ened sys­tems to warfight­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions all over the world. It too is light, and com­fort­able, thanks to a stu€, car­bon fi­bre struc­ture that not only sti€ens that whole unit, but stands proud from the wearer’s back, pro­vid­ing ex­tra air­flow to the PC it­self, while also keep­ing hot com­po­nents from in­ter­fer­ing with long VR ses­sions.

And it’s built with long ses­sions in mind, too, thanks to both an in­ter­nal bat­tery in the PC it­self, and two hot-swap­pable bat­ter­ies that come sep­a­rately. These small bat­tery units charge faster than they dis­charge, so can be swapped in and out al­most in­def­i­nitely. And given most VR games are rather less than long, you’ll have no is­sues with the hard­ware run­ning dry in the mid­dle of some vir­tual ac­tion.

Even with both bat­ter­ies plugged in the whole unit is amaz­ingly light. With­out even prop­erly cinch­ing the chest and waist straps, the Perseus’ weight was evenly dis­trib­uted across my torso. Sadly the unit was for demon­stra­tion pur­poses only, so we didn’t ac­tu­ally see or feel it in ac­tion, but it’s al­ready eas­ily the best such unit we’ve seen. It even comes with shorter, cus­tom ca­bles, so that you don’t have swathes of ex­tra ca­ble drap­ing you as you play – it truly is fit for pur­pose.

Of course, this ver­sa­til­ity isn’t cheap. There’s no hard date on the Perseus’ price or re­lease, but cur­rent es­ti­mates sug­gest third quar­ter – def­i­nitely by the end of the year – and in the $4-5,000 price range.

Which is ex­pen­sive, yes, but there’s also one more trick up HP’s sleeve. Perseus isn’t per­ma­nently at­tached to its pack – it can be de­tached, and then plugged into a desk­top caddy, turn­ing it into a pow­er­ful small form fac­tor desk­top sys­tem, so for that price… it feels pretty com­pelling to us. It’s early days, yet, and with­out know­ing how up­grade­able Perseus is it’s im­pos­si­ble to truly have an opin­ion one way or the other.

We’re ex­pect­ing a re­view unit as soon as HP has them, and we will be all over test­ing this ex­cit­ing new piece of PC hard­ware.

“Even with both bat­ter­ies in, the whole unit is amaz­ingly light”

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