I’m sure in a few years the idea of having to tether a VR headset to a PC will sound like a super primitive notion from darker times, but it’s a reality that any HTC Vive or Oculus Rift owner must face for now. For games where you hold still, a giant wire coming out of your head like something out of the Matrix isn’t such a big deal, but for games where you actually move? No one wants to be remembered as the guy who loved gaming so much he died for it… Literally, when he broke his neck by tripping on something while immersed in a VR game. That’s where backpack computers could come into play.
During Computex 2016 our team had the opportunity to try out the MSI Backpack, a computer crammed inside of a backpack shaped casing that you wear. Yes, it’s a bit of an odd idea, but it does allow the use of much shorter cords that you no longer have to drag around.
The Backpack is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor and a GeForce GTX 980 graphics card, alongside 16GB RAM and an SDD drive of varying size, depending on the configuration you settle on. All that power means you aren’t looking at a light device, clocking in at an full ten pounds. The battery is also built right in, and gets just slightly over an hour between charges. In other words, all day play sessions are not possible here.
As for how it all feels when paired up with an actual VR headset? In our case, Nirave was strapped down with an HTC Vive. In his own words, “The Backpack is pretty comfortable but does weigh a little bit. And with the headset on as well, it does make it somewhat cumbersome to move”.
The good news is that while it might be a bit of an extra weight, moving around feels better since you don’t have to worry about tripping on a cord and after a while you start to get used to the added heft. The fact that the MSI Backpack has great lumbar support is also a plus. And for those wondering, no, you don’t feel too much heat from wearing the thing.
MSI has yet to announce when its Backpack will be available commercially, or how much it’ll cost. That said, it is expected to debut this year. What do you think, like the idea of a VR backpack or would you rather just deal with the long cord attached to a traditional desktop?