HP Laptops are generally known for their utilitarian looks. When it comes to stunning gaming laptops, the Alienwares and Razers of the world clearly have had an edge. But with the Omen, HP is planning to change that perception. But does it succeed at delivering the experience expected out of a gaming laptop? We will find that out soon.
Build and Design: 8.5/10
Like we mentioned before, HP has clearly outdone itself with the design element of the Omen. The all-black trapezoidal design language is not only present on the laptop, but also with the packaging. It clearly makes the laptop stand out from other competitors.
The laptop comes in the trapezoidal shape and has sharp edges throughout. The top flap has tiny triangular textured design with the Helwett Packard branding on the left hand side in the centre. The hinge of the Omen has chrome touch to it with the edges having a blue colour, giving it an appearance like the hinge has just come out of a furnace. It is not the strongest though as the monitor tends to wobble a lot on mild tapping. It lets you rotate the screen up to 120 degrees.
Opening the flap reveals the chiclet keyboard and the wide trackpad which we will get to in a while. There are two speaker sections on the sides, which can pulsate the light when the speakers are on via a feature called Animated Speakers from the HP Omen Control. The laptop is around 20mm thick and weighs around 2.12 kg.
All the ports are located on the rear side of the Omen, just under the chrome hinge, between the two fan vents. Starting from the left hand side, there is a hybrid audio jack, a mini DisplayPort, an HDMI port, four USB 3.0 ports and the power connector. It does not have a LAN port and HP bundles in a USB to LAN port adapter. Apart from the SD card slot on the right hand side (reaching which will require you to lift the Omen), you do not have any port along the side of the laptop. Attaching and detaching peripherals from the rear side of the laptop can be annoying till you are expert enough to make the attachments blindly.
At the base there is a rubber rim that runs along the length of the laptop with just one opening at the top and bottom. Considering the air intake fans are located on the base, the idea of not having an opening around them will tend to raise the temperatures.
Keyboard and Trackpad: 7.5/10
The HP Omen has a chiclet keyboard with well-spaced keys which have a good amount of travel. The keyboard is a 6-row one without the dedicated number pad. On the left hand corner is a column of six programmable keys. This shifts the keyboard slightly to the right hand side, so getting used to typing without making typos will take some times. There were many instances when we ended up pressing the Caps Lock key instead of ‘A’, ending up pressing the P1 key instead of the Escape key, as the fingers are used to slightly different placement of the keys.
The trackpad is impressive. It is quite wide as compared to other trackpads we have seen. It is a single slab of plastic and is quite responsive with the buttons having a sturdy audible click. Also thanks to the tapering of the edge, the thumb has ample resting space if you use your index or middle finger to navigate on the trackpad. It supports gestures such as pinch to zoom, two finger scrolling, but the Windows 8 side gestures weren’t on by default.
HP Omen features top of the line specs featuring an Intel Core i7-4720HQ which is a quad-core hyper-threaded processor clocked at 2.6GHz with the Turbo frequency going to 3.6GHz. This is paired with 8GB of RAM. Since it is a gaming laptop, it also comes with a discrete graphics solution in the form of Nvidia GTX 960M which has around 640 CUDA cores. On the storage front, HP has gone with a 256GB SSD solution from SanDisk. You get Windows 8.1 onboard and naturally it is upgradeable to Windows 10.
The laptop comes bundled with some proprietary HP apps. The most important one being the HP Omen Control which lets you set the programmable keys to perform specific functions. There are many permutations combinations - programming just the P1 to P6 keys, programming P1-P6 keys in combination with Shift, Control, Alt keys and so on. Apart from programming keys, you can also change the backlight keyboard colour or animate the speakers. Further ahead in the Advanced tab, you can set the fan speed (Normal, Faster, Maximum), disable keys and so on.
A 15.6-inch full HD display sported by the HP Omen is also touch sensitive. Along with the monitor bezel, you also have a tapering edge on the screen keeping in line with the overall design factor of the Omen. The glossy surface of the display is reflective and ensure that you have no light sources directly behind you. Viewing angles are wonderful.
In the Lagom.nl tests, it performed well across all tests such as Contrast, Black Level, White Saturation and Gradient banding tests. Text appears crisp and colours do pop out with the display. Watching movies or playing games on this display is great so long as there isn’t a light source right behind you.
The Bang and Olufsen speakers are loud enough to watch a movie in a single room, but they are most responsive only in the mid-frequency range. The animated speakers, which gives blinking lights depending on the audio output is an interesting touch. Like all gaming laptops, the HP Omen does suffer from heating issues while gaming for long durations and if you keep the fan speed at the maximum level, you hear a distinct buzzing sound which is annoying. The rubber feet lining the base of the laptop should have been cut out near the air intake fan regions.
When it comes to gaming, the HP Omen gave playable frame rates on full HD resolution. With Metro: Last Light for instance, we got around 27FPS and 54FPS for full HD and HD resolutions respectively, with all presets set to high. A more mid-range game such as Bioshock Infinite gave 55FPS and 79FPS respectively for full HD and HD resolution for Ultra preset. 3D Mark gave a score of 1979 for the Fire Strike Extreme benchmark.
Battery Life: 6/10
We tried benchmarking with the PC Mark 8 battery life test, but the application kept crashing as it neared the end of the test. So we ran our Battery eater pro test, which gave a time of around 2 hours 44 mins. On regular use case, which involved working on Google Docs, streaming video and audio playback, the laptop battery ran for close to 3 hours 10 mins. From a gaming laptop, these numbers are par for the course. Gaming on the laptop will give you less than two hours.
Verdict and Price in India
HP Omen is priced at Rs 1,59,990 and even by gaming laptop standards, the price is on the higher side. But then again, HP Omen does not look like any other gaming laptop. And this design will certainly command a premium pricing. A quick look online, will give you gaming laptops with a better graphics solution at a lesser price such as MSI GE62 or the Asus G751JL and so on. At the price of the HP Omen, you could even get a higher end laptop and a PlayStation 4. So the HP Omen is clearly targetted at a niche segment for whom along with performance, even the looks are important.
In terms of performance, the HP Omen delivers on most fronts. Considering it houses the GTX 960M, which is a mid-range part, you will have to turn down the settings a notch to be able to get playable frame rates for high end games at full HD resolution. Battery life, though not the best, is still good for a gaming laptop.
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