The folks at MSI have introduced some drool-worthy virtual reality-capable notepad (laptop) computers and PC backpacks.
Considering that I'm always saying I'm not into computer games, I fear I'm in danger of losing my cred because I keep on discovering amazingly cool virtual reality (VR) games and apps and downloading them to my VR machines.
"Machines plural?" I hear you exclaim. Well, therein lies a tale. As you may recall, a few months ago I discovered that I required a super-powerful processor-plus-graphics combo to drive my Oculus Rift headset, so I cast caution to the winds, raced down to GigaParts, and purchased a honking big workstation (see It's (Virtual Reality) Life Jim, But Not As We Know It).
The problem is that I've set this up in the bay outside my office (my wife says there's no room for it at home). The end result is that everyone in the building gets to play with this beast but me because I'm too busy writing about it (and other things, of course). I did think about taking the little ragamuffin home at the weekends, but it's a real pain packing it up and carting it around.
(Source: Max Maxfield)
Then, just a couple of weeks ago as I pen these words, my chum Daniel at GigaParts told me that the folks at MSI had come out with some monster VR-capable notepad computers (I personally think "laptops" is a more appropriate moniker). "Arrgggh," I thought to myself, "how can I possibly justify such an expense?" But then I remembered that I'm going to England to visit my dear old mom for a week in October. My mom was born in 1930. They didnít get electricity in their house until 1943 when she was 13 years old. She's seen some changes since that time, but she's never seen virtual reality.
What sort of son would I be to deny my mother such an experience? She could "dine out" at her hairdresser's for weeks on this. I'm a good son -- that's the sort I am. "Hang the expense," I cried, "my mother deserves this treat," so I grit my teeth, closed my eyes, pulled out my battered and bewildered credit card, and took the plunge. "In 100 years' time no one will care," I said to myself. By some strange quirk of fate, this is about the same amount of time it's going to take me to pay off my credit card.
This little scamp is an MSI TITAN sporting a 6th Generation Intel Core i7 with four cores and eight threads, 32GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD for the system and applications, a 1TB HDD for data, and a 120Hz refresh-rate display (typical computer displays use a 60Hz refresh rate). All of this is complemented by an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics subsystem, which means it's more powerful than my two-month-old tower with its GTX 1070 graphics subsystem (I need a moment... I promised myself I wouldnít cry).
(Source: Max Maxfield)
I took this little rascal to the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in Minneapolis last week for the keynote speaker, Chuck Carter, to use in his presentation (see Experience virtual reality at ESC Minneapolis).
It has to be said that that I got a lot of admiring looks in the speakers lounge, and even more-so when I eventually took the VR laptop out of my backpack (LOL). One of the presenters sitting across the table from me mentioned the size of the exhaust fans at the back of the machine as I was about to power-up. I jokingly told him to move to the side to prevent him from being blown over... and he did!
(Source: Max Maxfield)
And things continue to race along, because MSI recently launched their VR One Backpack PC boasting a GTX 1070 graphics card. Although this looks to be a bit of a beast, it actually weighs in at a tad under eight pounds, which really isnít too bad in the scheme of things.
The upside is that this allows you to roam freely around your virtual world (until you meet an object in the real world, of course). The downside is that this first iteration of the VR One is really of interest for HTC Vive users. This is because the Oculus Rift requires one or more sensors to be connected to the PC, but things are changing really fast in this industry, so who knows what tomorrow will bring? Actually, I have a lot of stuff to talk about regarding next-generation systems and applications, but we'll leave that to a future column.
In the meantime, I'm pondering which apps I will be demoing to my mom when I visit her in a few weeks' time. I'm not sure if she's ready to experience a ride in the world's largest Roller Coaster, or if she's up to jumping off a virtual cliff wearing a Wing Suit, but we'll never know if we donít try (as she always used to say when I was a young lad and some dubious-looking new foodstuff appeared on my plate). I'll make sure to take pictures and report further after my visit.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting