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Christmas Gift Guide

The Omen X Compact Desktop, formerly the VR backpack

View from the back

Tons of connectors

Pluck it out

Light show

Slip into the Backpack harness

Connect to the batteries

Pretty comfortable

Stylish venting

In action

Battery

Battery dock

Dongle me

Pattern

In action

Omen laptops

Updated lid look

Improved keyboard

Light it up

WASD

Red and faux carbon fiber accent

Connections

Omen 15 connectors

At rest

Omen 17

Omen Accelerator

Pack it in

Back

Relative size

Omen Desktop

No resemblance

Look at me!

Back

Top connectors

Omen 25 and 27

Pairing

Back

New keyboard

WASD

New mouse

Mechanical buttons

Updated headset

Better fit

Covered cords

HP released its VR backpack developers kit last year, and ended up cleverly overhauling the product with a dock so that when it's not on your back you can use it as your desktop PC.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The dock has a reasonable number of connections, including HDMI, DisplayPort and three USB 3.1 Type-A in the back plus a couple in front, as well as a USB-C. When you add in the four Type-A, one Thunderbolt/USB-C, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort on the system itself, that's as much as many full-size desktops.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

When you remove it from the dock, it switches automatically to internal battery power.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

You can change the color of the lighting in software.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

When you connect it to the two 73Wh batteries, it switches to that power source. 

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The system comes with two pairs of batteries, each pair rated to last about an hour.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The faux carbon fiber pattern is big this year, and HP uses it across all the Omens.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Dear VR headset manufacturers: please leave a hole for a ponytail.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

With more vents, angles and badging, the 2017 models look like gaming systems.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The keyboard layout is much better, with red (as opposed to red backlit) WASD keys and arrow keys set off from the rest of the keyboard.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Keyboard backlight controls are just OK: your choices are all red, only the WASD keys lit or off.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The 15-inch model has a Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet, USB 3.1 Type-A, USB-C/Thunderbolt and audio jacks on the left side.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

On the right there are two more USB 3.1 Type-A connectors and an SD card slot.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The 17-inch moves most of the connectors to the left side to make room for an optional optical drive on the right.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

If you have a compatible HP system (with USB-C), you can plug it into the new external GPU unit and turn your underpowered system into a maxed-out gaming PC.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The Accelerator can take up to a GeForce GTX 1070, 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Fierce!

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

If you've seen its predecessor, you'll realize the 2017 model is a completely different beast.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The essential clear panel.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

There's nothing particularly notable about the back, but you can see it's almost all vented. There don't seem to be a lot of ports on the motherboard, though.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Two USB-C ports is nice.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

The new TN displays don't stand out particularly, but they do support reasonably high refresh rates for midrange gaming displays. The HD 25-inch goes up to 144Hz and supports FreeSync, while the QHD 27-inch hits 165Hz and uses G-Sync.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

For spanning, the bezels aren't that narrow.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Stylish!

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

HP's new mechanical keyboard is manufactured by the company itself.  

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

You can quickly switch sampling rate for the 12,000 dpi mouse.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

HP improved the headset design for improved comform and better low-end sound.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

All the corded accessories now have woven casings for better durability.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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