MSI VR One kicks off the contest for lightest VR backpack

— 9:02 AM on September 12, 2016

The Tokyo Games Show starts in less than 36 hours, and we're already hearing about some of the products that will be there. MSI sent us the most interesting thing so far. The company will be showing its VR One thin-and-light VR backpack at TGS. This mobile PC uses Pascal graphics and hot-swappable batteries to offer an untethered VR experience.

The PC-to-headset cable may be the biggest problem with room-scale VR, but if removing it meant wearing a twenty-pound brick, we might just stick with the tether. Happily, the VR One weighs just under eight pounds. MSI says the machine is powered by an "overclocked CPU and GeForce GTX 10 series graphics," which unfortunately doesn't tell us much about its capabilities. We've reached out to MSI for more specifics on that point.

Still, the VR One has to be reasonably potent to drive the Vive, and MSI says it's capable of "over 90 FPS for any high-level VR devices." The backpack comes with an HDMI port, a mini-DisplayPort, and a Thunderbolt 3 port, plus four USB 3.0 ports. That array of I/O should let users connect whatever HMD they want to the VR One, although MSI says it is specifically designed for the HTC Vive.

Despite the "overclocked CPU", MSI says the VR One only produces 41 dBA under full load. MSI also claims that users can get "over 1.5 hours" of gameplay out of the backpack. If you can stand to be in VR for longer than that—or if you have a friend, relative, or spouse that wants to play—the twin batteries are hot-swappable. A series of lights on the back of the device indicate the charge level of each battery individually. 

Of course, those lights will be hard to see while wearing the thing, so MSI helpfully provides a "Dragon Center" software for controlling the VR One. The app links up with mobile phones, and from there, users can adjust fan and performance profiles, as well as monitor hardware status and battery levels.

We still have a lot of questions about the VR One, including its performance and price, but MSI says the backpack is planned for a late October launch in the US. Assuming it hits that window, it will probably be the first VR backpack available for purchase.

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