HP’s taking its gaming segment very seriously, and this could well be its most exciting product yet
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 eorts to support VR that is really intriguing. Perseus is HP’s eort 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 oer 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 oer – 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 stiens 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”