While there’s a whole lot we can do with our at-home wireless gaming headsets (read about the best wireless headsets here) to increase immersion, trying to use them while playing VR is still limited.
To date, there are only a few top-notch, fully-immersive, wander-around-and-experience virtual reality setups in the world, such as this: The Void.
They work with a lot of unique tech and headsets/accessories that include built-in backpacks, which house their own computers that connect wirelessly to nearby servers (it works better in practice than it sounds, especially when you’re roleplaying as the Ghostbusters or knights in armor, etc.).
HP’s Solution: The Omen X
Now HP is trying to bring that same technology to consumers, and we have mixed feelings about it.
The HP Omen X looks like it could have stepped right out of an immersive experience like The Void: It’s a big slap of a computer tower that’s built to be carried in a backpack, charged up in a giant base station, and used with accessories like the Windows Mixed Reality Headset (Mixed Reality controllers are included with purchase).
It comes with built-in sensors and can even function inside a backpack if you by the special HP backpack version. Slap on a great headset, and in theory you have a portable VR experience that you can take with and share with others.
The problem is that this sort of experience requires a whole lot of upkeep and planning – and there’s not really a way to support it outside of highly controlled environments.
For example, take the Mixed Reality headset (more VR headsets review here), or another VR headset like Vive: They aren’t made to move around and encourage proactivity – they are made for limited living room spaces (for now). They don’t have the ability to scan nearby objects and effortless overlay graphics (for now). There’s not really a point in keeping the computer in a backpack or moving around while using the Omen X, unless the only place you can meet up is a street corner with great Wi-Fi.
That relegates the Omen to sort of a travel gaming computer, something that’s easy to carry around to gaming parties with your friends. It will probably also help small-time developers create their own immersive VR experiences, but that’s a much smaller market at the moment.
The Problem is the Price
A single Omen X with charging mount and controllers will cost you at least $2,500, and that’s without the backpack or any VR headset. Is this 16GB computer with an i7 processor and 1TB of storage – solid specs, but nothing groundbreaking. Is the mobility going to be enough to attract buyers?
Bottom line: Would you buy it?
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