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article imageHP's new $3,299 backpack computer could be the future of working

By James Walker     Aug 1, 2017 in Technology
HP has announced a new virtual reality backpack that's aimed at commercial customers. The company believes businesses could benefit from the portability and power offered by VR backpacks, giving them performance for on-the-job training.
The past year has seen several virtual reality backpacks launch, including from HP, but most have been focused on gaming use. Because current virtual reality headsets require a wired connection to a PC, they're not especially portable. The backpack form factor solves this issue by letting you carry the PC with you.
HP today announced a new backpack that's built for professionals. The HP Z VR Backpack is a wearable and untethered computer capable of running virtual reality workloads. As The Verge reports, HP's pitching it as an alternative to fixed workstation PCs for locations where portable computing is important.
The company said the opportunities of VR in commercial environments are "limitless." It intends to get VR into industries ranging from healthcare through to entertainment. The backpack could be used in a hospital, on a factory floor or in a theme park, giving its wearer immediate access to virtual computing resources.
"Virtual reality is changing the way people learn, communicate and create," said Xavier Garcia, vice president and general manager of HP Z Workstations. "Making the most of this technology requires a collaborative relationship between customers and partners. As a leader in technology, HP is uniting powerful commercial VR solutions, including new products like the HP Z VR Backpack, with customer needs to empower VR experiences our customers can use today to reinvent the future."
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The Z VR Backpack is powered by an Intel Core i7 vPro processor. It has an NVIDIA Quadro P5200 graphics chip with 16GB of dedicated video memory. The backpack's virtual reality capabilities will be provided by a tethered HTC Vive Business Edition headset, sold separately from the Z VR itself.
To encourage adoption of virtual reality, HP will also be opening 13 "immersion centres" in cities across the world. These will showcase devices like the Z VR Backpack, showing businesses how VR and wearable computers can increase their productivity and improve customer experiences. HP sees VR as critical to successful digital transformation.
HP Z VR Backpack
HP Z VR Backpack
The HP Z VR Backpack will be available later this year to interested businesses. As may be expected, pricing will be high with the base model starting at $3,299.
Companies that intend to use the backpack for virtual reality workloads will also need to budget for the $1,200 HTC Vive Business Edition. HP's keen to stress the investment will ultimately pay off. The high entry costs are likely to deter smaller businesses for the foreseeable future though, one of the biggest barriers to digital transformation with VR.
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