I recently had the chance to use a new HP Z VR backpack. This is quite the power house of a backpack and the only one I know of currently that packs a Nvidia P5200. This unit is classified as a workstation for professionals and the nearly identical consumer version is called the Omen X backpack. The Omen X is also unique in that it packs a GTX1080. Most VR backpacks like the MSI VR One or Zotac VR Go pack a GTX1060 or GTX1070.
The design on this unit is very well done. It feels incredibly lighter than what you’d think from looking at it. Comes with a docking station for desktop use as well as 4 hot swappable batteries. The entire package is very well thought out.
The price is probably its biggest issue. The HP Z VR is about $3300 right now. Yes, you read that correctly. Interesting enough Amazon had one for $2600 total for a while but is now out of stock. Now prices have gone up about $1k everywhere else. For the comparable Omen X version you’re looking about $2500. That’s a tough price point for the home user but probably not even a second thought for VR arcades.
I tried it with my Samsung Odyssey HMD. Once setup, it’s quite similar to having a TP Cast wireless setup. The freedom to roam is really nice. The setup for Windows Mixed Reality HMDs can be annoying though given you can’t setup the backpack with the HMD alone. It wants a monitor plugged in which also makes mapping the room difficult for large areas. You’ll need a headless EDID HDMI dongle to get rid of the monitor eventually and actually use the backpack with a Microsoft HMD. The backpack shouldn’t be blamed here tough. It’s a Windows thing with Mixed Reality HMDs. This is a large over sight for these types of setups but workable.
I need to go back and try the HP Z VR with my HTC Vive which is supposed to be a much smoother experience. However I have an TP Case wireless connection to my HTC Vive so I didn’t really see the purpose. Would love to use the HP Z VR with my HTC Vive Pro but I don’t have all the correct cabling at the moment due to the changed Pro interface from the standard HTC Vive HMD.
In summary if you have a large play space and don’t have an option for wireless then the HP Z VR backpack is a sweat setup. For situations where you have multiplayer like warehouse style VR, wireless doesn’t currently offer a multiplayer setup so a backpack is the only choice. For single player at home its hard to justify the price of a VR backpack, HP Z VR or otherwise, if a wireless solution is available. If wireless isn’t available then a backpack is the only choice for a free roaming solution.