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Merge VR Review

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merge vr review featured

If you still think that in order to experience the virtual reality world you have to wear a sturdy, heavy headset, it’s time for you to find out about the Merge VR/AR goggles: this is not only the most lightweight headset you can get these days, it is also the funkiest-looking one on the market.

It’s essential to note that this is a multi-award-winning device that was chosen as the best VR headset for both big kids and teens in 2017. It has also received honorary nominations for being a pioneering gadget made of a resistant material that will protect your smartphone at all costs.

Below, we’ll be detailing the Merge VR and all of its characteristics. This Merge VR review has been written with the intention of looking closely at the headset’s features in order to determine whether it’s worth its price or not. However, at the end of the day, it will always come down to you if these goggles can provide what you are looking for in a virtual reality headset or not.

Merge VR Features

The Merge is portal to the virtual reality dimension like the ones you have never seen before. This innovative VR headset is suitable for kids aged 10 or above and it can be bought in bright, solid colors that range from Nebula Teal and Solar Orange to Supernova Pink and the iconic Pulsar Purple, all space-related names.

One of the greatest things about this headset is that you can buy it for around $30, placing it among the cheapest options out there if we leave the Google Cardboard aside. The Merge is long-lasting and three times as durable, after all.

Merge VR Construction

If the design is not cool enough to get you hooked, its main features definitely will: it’s the first virtual reality headset manufactured to be as soft as a marshmallow, making it not only super comfortable to wear but also as light as these normally-heavy gadgets can get.

In addition to that, the Merge has been tested against drops and bumps to make sure that your smartphone will stay safely inside it even if it falls from a 6th floor or higher. The best part? The headset won’t break either as its spongy foam won’t even feel the fall.

The Merge VR/AR goggles are compatible with both Android and iOS phones and it can fit any model sized anywhere between 123mm and 158mm. To make sure that your smartphone is VR ready before you buy the googles, you can always test it at vrtestninja.com, a website that reveals your smartphone’s capacity, for free.

The material used to create the Merge VR goggles is a lightweight and ultra flexible foam that adapts to the contour of your face, making them one of the most comfortable headsets out there as of today as most models are made of hard, stiff, plastic-related materials.

Check out Merge VR deals here

Merge VR Lenses

As for the technical specifications, these colorful goggles come with two adjustable lenses that can let you adapt them to your particular eye distance. For people with eyesight difficulties, this is the only way in which they can truly experience virtual reality and although it should be a mandatory feature, not all headsets’ lenses can be adjusted so that’s two extra points for the Merge.

The bold Merge headset offers 96° field of view and comes with two 42mm lenses. Likewise, they have been designed to fit eyeglasses so if you need to wear them to see, these are the perfect VR goggles for you.

Merge VR External Features

On the sides of the headset, you’ll find two input buttons, both on the left and right panels. These buttons make sure that you don’t need a controller to interact with the VR world. It also features accessory ports in case you want to charge your smartphone or you’re your headphones in.

Moreover, it brings an adjustable head strap that fits all sizes and it comes with airflow channels that make sure your eyesight is free from fog or dampness even when playing games that require you to move around and sweat a bit. virtual reality is quite immersive and it can end up in more physical exercise than you would expect.

merge VR review colors

What Games Can You Play on Merge VR?

Merge has an app website called miniverse.io where you can buy and download games, videos, and VR experiences directly to your smartphone. Uncountable apps can be obtained for free and those that you have to pay for usually cost less than $4.

Similarly, the Merge headset can be used to play any VR game or video that’s compatible with Google Cardboard, making the amount of content available even wider. Nevertheless, there have been some criticisms from gamers about how many of these apps won’t work with the Merge. It’s important to keep this in mind as there is a possibility that the apps you want to experience might not be compatible with this headset.

User Complaints about the Merge VR

In addition to several games not running properly with these VR goggles, several users have stated that bigger Android phones and the latest iPhone models don’t fit properly in the slot.

Likewise, depending on the size of the phone and where the Home button is, it might get pressed constantly, making it almost impossible to experience virtual reality. Lastly, it is common to find users writing a Merge VR headset review where they comment about how the phone can overheat inside the device, although this doesn’t seem to affect the games or videos.

Conclusions

To conclude this Merge VR headset review, we dare to say that this is an excellent headset that’s not only affordable but that will also last a long time. Its construction has been engineered to be durable and its lenses and technical features have been specifically chosen to provide the best VR experience you can get, as long as your smartphone can deliver.

If you’re thinking about getting a headset that can be worn with glasses and that can also stand a lot of bumps (in case you happen to be one of those people who keeps dropping their phone), the Merge goggles will do the job. Just pick your favorite brightly-colored headset, download some free apps, and you’re ready to dive into virtual reality at once.

Get your own Merge VR headset

HP VR Backpack Review

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HP VR Backpack Review docked

Just so you know, there are two models of the HP VR Backpack PC. One is the HP Z VR backpack PC, which is entirely geared towards industrial and professional applications and is superbly over-powered. The other version is the HP Omen X VR backpack PC, which is a lighter version more geared towards gaming.

Both PCs are similar in terms of design quality and ease-of-wear, and both have been designed specifically for virtual reality. The differences between the two lie mainly in the graphical capabilities of each… and in the price of each. The HP Omen is significantly cheaper than the Z.

And now, on to the review…

The HP Z VR backpack PC is the latest avatar in a line of backpack PCs from HP

 

It is a powerful PC designed to be worn on a user’s back and has been specially built for virtual reality. While anyone can buy this PC, the design, at the moment, is focused upon professionals. The HP Z VR backpack PC is a quantum leap forward in virtual reality technology.

By creating this, HP automatically positions itself as a technological source for companies seeking to accelerate their design and production cycles, improve their training processes, and offer immersive customer experiences. This is one of the first portable professional PCs, equipped and designed to improve one’s immersion in virtual reality. HP’s VR backpack technology relies heavily on strong partnerships with, among others, Intel, NVIDIA, Technicolor and HTC Vive.

Check out HP Z VR backpack on Amazon

A clash between wireless VR and on-board VR

The HP VR backpack PC is a response to the irritating wires that seems to be a trademark of most VR headsets today. While cutting-edge VR headsets offer extreme resolutions, and an immersive experience, they still tend to trail wires that can get entangled in a person’s body or even in one’s legs. You can just imagine how much tripping over the wires that link your VR headset to your PC can detract from the immersion of your VR experience.

There are two ways that companies are looking at to get past this difficulty.

Some companies are working on a wireless connection between the PC and the headset that will dispense with the wires, while other companies like HP are focusing upon actually creating a backpack that contains a VR capable PC.

That’s exactly what the HP Z VR backpack PC is

There are certain reasons that HP has for having made this choice. Firstly, experiments by companies using wireless technologies have come up against an inherent latency involving wireless transmission that limits the technology.

Microsoft has made some experiments with what it calls its HoloLens. In the case of the HoloLens, the mixed reality headset itself contains the processing unit. This creates a wireless experience that bypasses both the problem with trailing wires and the latency issue with the wireless transmission. However, the fact that the processing unit also has to sit within the headset limits the power of the onboard computer – at least at present.

HP’s solution seems to give one the best of both worlds

Firstly, you have a state of the art VR computer resting comfortably on your back, where the weight distribution allows it to be almost imperceptible. You do not have any trailing wires or any latency issues with the wireless transmission. You can simply put on your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headset and wander through the virtual worlds of your choice.

While this may seem to be the VR gamers’ dream come true, the HP Z VR backpack PC is really not focused on gaming.

You’ll be far more likely to find someone using this backpack PC designing a car or building a model in 3D. The HP Z backpack PC is entirely cued to industrial applications, such as product development, employee training, or customer immersion.

HP z VR Backpack Review

Training people, and keeping them out of hazardous situations

One of the uses that HP suggests for its backpack PC is to simulate training in dangerous situations. Other possible uses of the backpack PC include teaching advanced medical professionals, such as surgeons. For example, a medical student learning surgery could operate upon a simulated heart in virtual or mixed reality, thereby learning practical skills in the process. Such a VR PC could also allow surgeons to increase the scale of the perception of their operations, making movements much more precise.

Other applications include operating extremely heavy machinery safely, by placing the operator far away from the machine itself. There are applications in real estate as well, allowing for virtual tours of available properties while the client sits in the comfort of the estate agent’s office.

3D modelling has already been used for decades to create everything from moulds for toys, to the complex engineering of a gear box. The HP backpack PC can make all these commercial and industrial applications much easier and certainly has the power to support the most cutting-edge industrial VR technology.

A premium product

The HP Z VR backpack offers impeccable looks with a rugged and robust construction. The PC also allows you to use it rather like a hybrid, as it can either be used in the backpack rig or simply as a normal computer, as it allows you to plug a conventional monitor and other controllers to an integrated docking station. In other words, the docking station allows you to connect the backpack to a screen in an ordinary manner, turning the backpack PC into a desktop computer, albeit one whose configuration is ideal for the use of most professional 3D applications in real time.

Check out the best HP Z VR backpack deals here

Possible limitations of the product

Under testing, this VR backpack certainly allowed a person complete autonomy, and complete freedom of movement in every direction. Even used intensively, and with the most demanding applications, the battery pack of the backpack lasts for at least an hour. Most professionals will smile at that, considering that an hour’s operational time is hardly significant on the scales at which they operate.

However, HP provides for a newly charged battery to be swapped “hot” for a depleted battery. That is to say, that the batteries of the device can be changed while the device is operational, and even working on some complex task or running a sophisticated 3D application. Having a number of battery packs to spare, and charging them in sequence, can allow you to continue working for the entire duration of a normal working day. This solution is of course aimed at design professionals who may need to use the backpack for several hours. For customer or product demonstrations, the hour’s working time of the backpack PC will, of course, suffice.

Dealing with the weight

While some reviewers had concerns about the weight of the backpack, these were quickly put to rest. The entire backpack weighs just over 4.5 kg, which is hardly an excessive weight. Reviewers found that the weight was quickly forgotten in the immersion of the VR experience. Most reviewers believe that the backpack could be used for extended periods in virtual reality and that its weight was not a constraint at all.

Perfect heat management

The backpack PC is designed to let air flow away from your back, thus preventing the PC from getting too hot. This air flow system prevents the PC from becoming uncomfortably hot in use. Lastly, we may point out that the HP Z VR backpack has been designed to integrate flawlessly with the HTC Vive Pro, perhaps the finest headset in regular production today, making the combination of the headset and the backpack the ultimate solution for companies and professionals seeking to use virtual reality as a cutting-edge design tool.

How about gaming?

While the HP Z VR backpack can certainly be used for gaming, the backpack in combination with the HTC Vive Pro might be expensive for the average gamer, even for a dedicated one. There is no need to worry, though, because HP offers a gaming backpack PC that is just a little more than half the price of the professional version. I’ll give you the technical specifications on the two PCs here.

The professional version – the HP Z VR backpack G1

This PC is designed for use in industrial environments and has a reinforced chassis with a built-in LED display that shows the power status of the PC. It comes with a docking station that allows the PC to be converted into a conventional PC. It incorporates a 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor with vPro technology. Its graphics card is an NVIDIA Quadro P5200 with 16 GB of GDDR5 memory. It has two SO-DIMMs for 32 GB of maximum memory. It can support a multi-display of four screens, and comes with high fidelity headphones, and is also compatible with a wireless connection.

The gaming version – the HP Omen X VR backpack PC

HP Z VR Backpack

This is the version of HP’s backpack PC that is ideal for gamers. While it is less powerful than the professional version, as you will see, its capabilities are perfectly adequate to VR gaming. While this can be used for gaming, it is also designed to be optimal as a nomad workstation that allows you to move your office where you please quickly and efficiently.

The battery of this version can last to up to 1.5 hours, depending on what applications you’re using. As with the professional version, changing the battery is provided for. The technical specifications for HP Omen X VR backpack PC include an Intel Core i7-6700 HQ quad-core processor that clocks at between 2.6 to 3.5 GHz. It also includes an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. It has 32 GB of RAM and provides 256 GB SSD storage space. It weighs around 5 kg.

Click here to get OMEN X HP VR backpack

Zotac VR Go Backpack Review

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Zotac VR Go main image 1

The new VR backpack PCs are really one of the finest innovations in virtual reality technology today. For those who are interested in VR technology primarily for gaming, one of the best backpack PCs available today is the Zotac VR Go. It has some very interesting specifications. Its heart is an Intel Core i7-6700T processor, with 16 GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card. It also has a 256 GB hard drive.

What makes the Zotac VR Go “go”?

The Zotac VR Go is an exceptional personal computer in more ways than one. In one sense of the word, it’s a traditional graphics PC, but exceptionally compact, so much so that it is hardly bigger than a home console. It is exceptionally powerful and absolutely suited to video games, and of course, to virtual reality.

The word “Go” in its name refers to the fact that it is possible to wear this personal computer as a backpack, and also to connect it to an HTC Vive. Its two removable batteries hold a charge that allows it to function for about two hours. Moreover, the VR Go can be used as either a fixed PC, functioning on a mains power supply, or as a mobile virtual reality PC or workstation.

In being so, the Zotac VR Go solves one of the crucial problems facing virtual reality today, that of the endless amount of cables that haunt just about every high-end virtual reality headset on the market. These cables tend to wrap themselves around people’s legs or torsos, to trip them up, or to yank themselves out of the headset or the PC. Either way, they are a pure nuisance and a definite detraction from one’s immersion in virtual reality.

Check out the best Zotac VR GO deals

Zotac VR Go freebies and accessories

Structural impact

Well, perhaps ‘impact’ wasn’t quite the word to use here, since I seriously doubt that this PC would survive a severe impact. This isn’t to say that it isn’t ruggedly built, because it is. However, I wouldn’t subject it to any abuse if I were the owner of it.

The design of the case can be considered rather a classic, with a dominance of black plastic. It’s rather Spartan in its simplicity, and the only spikes of colour come from the start button on the side, and a panel that shows how much charge remains in the batteries. The materials used are strong and yet extremely light, and while we doubt it should be subjected to a hard blow, on the whole, the construction seems relatively solid, despite the predominance of plastic where fibreglass or metal might have been more durable. It is hardly bigger than an Xbox.

Streamlined connectivity

Basic connectivity with the HTC Vive is through the top of the case, making access easy. Note that the small box that usually connects the headset to the PC is no longer needed here, as all power is sourced directly from the Zotac.

Other connectors required by the headset are arranged along one side of the Zotac. There are four USB 3 ports, two HDMI ports, two display ports, two Ethernet outlets, and an SD card reader. There are also ports for your headphones and a microphone.

A perfect fit

The back of the case is what attaches to the backpack section of the Zotac VR Go, and the attachment is via a swivel button. Once you fit the straps to your person, the case is perfectly stable, and there are no safety concerns, and no danger to the backpack PC – unless you happen to fall heavily right on top of it. However, in testing it in use, we found that this is extremely unlikely to occur.

Zotac VR Go hot girl

Performance

The Zotac VR Go’s Intel Core i7-6700T processor is a four-core CPU that clocks between 2.8 to 3.6 GHz. With 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, you’ll see an excellent performance in most of the VR games that you play. While the VR Go is really aimed at the VR gaming market, it is also perfectly capable of handling professional applications, including 3D modelling programs like 3D Studio Max and Maya. It can also be used for video editing, but the fact that it only has a single 256 GB SSD can limit this to some extent. If video editing is what you buy this PC for, you will have to upgrade the memory using the bay provided for a hard disk.

Best Zotac VR GO deals here

Games performance

As you can imagine, with the specifications we’ve outlined, the Zotac VR Go is an excellent gaming machine. NVDIA’s 1070 graphics card is powerful enough to give you 90 frames per second with the majority of virtual reality games presently on the market. Note that this version of GTX 1070 is the “mobile” version, and therefore similar to the one found in laptops.

There is little difference between it and the desktop version, performance wise

The frequency of the mobile version of this GPU has been revised downwards slightly from 1506 MHz to 1442 MHz. Despite that, it has a larger number of calculation units, that is to say, 2048, against the 1920 calculation units of the desktop version. As far as performance goes, it is roughly equivalent to a notebook PC with similar specifications.

As an example, you would be able to play The Witcher 3 in full HD, that is to say, at a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, with the highest level of graphics detail that the game has to offer, and you would still get frame rates ranging at around 70 frames per second.

Zotac VR Go technical specs

Can this PC be upgraded?

Yes, the VR Go can be upgraded, but not all of those upgrades will be simple, and some of the possible upgrades are a little limited. Accessing the RAM and SSD is fairly simple and can be done by unscrewing five screws in a small trapdoor in the case. The same panel allows access to a bay that can hold a SATA disk. This bay will fit either a hard drive or an additional SSD.

However, if you want to actually access the motherboard, you will have to remove all twelve screws in the case, which gives you access to it, as well as to the GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. This graphics card is mounted on an MXM module and is therefore quite difficult to replace. The update kits for this sort of mounting are quite rare and rather expensive. There is also an Intel Core processor, an i7-6700T. This is mounted on an LGA1151 socket, which is quite standard, and which will allow the processor to be upgraded quite easily.

Zotac VR GO on Amazon

How comfortable is this VR backpack to wear?

Well, the backpack is rather light, weighing in at just 2.5 kg without the batteries, and at around 4.2 kg with them. However, if you factor in the weight of the HTC Vive as well, you’ll be carrying around 5 kg on your person.

In practice, though, the backpack and the headset go very well together, and the weight is so ergonomically distributed that one hardly feels it at all. The straps are well padded, and one feels almost no fatigue.

Of course, as this is virtual reality, so how fatigued or otherwise you feel will depend on the game you play. If you play a very active game, where large and fast motions are required, you’re of course going to get tired rather quickly. However, this would be true even if you were using the HTC Vive on a normal PC. On the other hand, when playing a game like Arizona Sunshine, you should feel very little fatigue.

wearing the Zotac Go comfortable

Does it get hot on one’s back?

You might be surprised to know that despite its powerful configuration, the VR Go makes very little noise and manages to dissipate heat impeccably. Most of the hot air is flushed out to one side of the case, keeping the rest of the body at a decent temperature, and ensuring that you don’t feel the heat on your back. The range of temperatures remains between 36.2 C and 38.9 C. The sound generated by the cooling fans is virtually inaudible, unless you actually put your ear right next to the case.

Mobility and battery life

The VR Go comes equipped with two removable batteries that can keep it going for two complete hours. The batteries can be interchanged while the computer is operational, ensuring that you don’t have to interrupt what you’re doing when one of the batteries goes low on power. They are recharged via a dedicated dock, which is powered by the same AC adapter as the PC.

The only negative point here is that you cannot recharge them if you happen to be running the PC on mains power using the adapter. That is rather a pity, but other than that one point, it’s a very workable and satisfactory system.

It might interest you to know that field-tests of this device have found it running far beyond those specifications, with reviewers using this backpack PC with the HTC Vive reporting that they were able to use it nearly for two hours and twenty minutes before the PC shut down completely. Another reviewer reported that he was able to take a game up to half an hour beyond the two-hour limit before the PC shut down.

Zotac VR Go cool backpack pc

The cables of the Vive persist… to some extent

We might point out that the cables of the HTC Vive, being long, tend to hang down behind one. However, this can be dealt with by folding the cables into a bundle using a clasp.

The Zotac VR Go provides excellent audio output

It certainly does. Note, however, that you will experience a considerable level of distortion if you set the volume of the sound to maximum. However, if you reduce the volume slightly, say to around 94%, the distortion you will experience is minimal. Other than that, you should have few complaints as to the audio, with the power output being perfectly acceptable, and the entire sound spectrum being very well defined.

Strong points of the Zotac VR Go

  • An exceptionally compact and functional backpack gaming PC.
  • Two whole hours of functional virtual reality gaming time.
  • No audible running noise, and exceptional heat management.
  • Very easy to connect to the headset.

Negative points

  • Only 250 GB of storage space, though this can be upgraded.
  • The case is made of plastic, and one would have preferred something a little more durable, such as steel or fibreglass.
  • There is no inbuilt system for the HTC Vive cables, and they tend to trail behind oneself.
  • One cannot charge the batteries while simultaneously using the PC on mains power with the adapter.
  • Fairly highly priced even as VR PCs go.

Conclusion

This is an excellent example of a compact and wearable backpack PC that dispenses with the irritating headset-to-PC connection that is the bane of high-end VR headsets today. It is also reasonably light, even when you take into consideration the weight of the headset. One can certainly use the HTC Vive with this backpack PC for two hours without feeling any exceptional fatigue. If it falls within your budget, it is definitely worth purchasing.

Click here to order your own Zotac VR GO