HP and MSI are also making backpack computers for VR headsets

Joining Zotac's ZBOX in redefining wearable computing

Wearable devices are hot, with smartwatches, fitness bands, and virtual reality all gaining in profile and appeal, but wearable computing is about to get a lot heavier thanks to HP and MSI. (And probably hotter, too. Physically, that is.)

Both companies this week announced wearable computers that you can strap to your back and use for virtual reality headsets, providing truly mobile and untethered VR experiences. They follow Zotac, which revealed its backpack ZBOX last month (see below) to play nice with the HTC Vive.

Neither of these newer options seems fully ready for release. HP's backpack computer will be part of its Omen gaming line, with a sleek red and black offering that weighs less than 4.5kg and is similarly equipped to a high-end desktop. It has Intel Core i5 and i7 processors available, along with upwards of 32GB RAM.

Unfortunately, we don't know which graphics card will power this experience, but it does have a smart triple-battery system: the CPU and GPU each have their own respective battery, which last about an hour apiece, while another battery provides enough charge to keep the computer on while you swap the larger batteries.

While that ultimately means you'd need five or more batteries for a lengthy play session, at least you don't have to shut the thing down once an hour. It'll also come with a wireless display, mouse, and keyboard, meaning the Omen backpack doesn't just have to be VR-controlled.

According to The Verge, HP plans to start testing the units in about a month and may make further tweaks to the design, so a proper release could still be a ways off. And it'll surely be pricey - probably more expensive than an equivalent desktop, given the extra material and batteries.

Meanwhile, MSI just announced its own Backpack PC, which will debut next week at Computex. It's also black and red (tiny picture here), amusingly, and we know a little more about the specs: it'll wield a Core i7 processor alongside the NVIDIA GTX980 graphics card.

There's no word yet on price or availability, but we should get those details next week during MSI's Computex showing. We do know this, at least: if you're excited about fully mobile VR in your living space, you'll have at least three options ahead for back-mounted PCs.

[Sources: MSI, The Verge]