HP Omen

In 2006, industry giants Dell and HP went shopping for boutique PC makers that built stylish high-end computers for gamers.

Dell acquired Alienware, while HP bought Voodoo.

Today, Alienware is still known for gaming machines. However, the Voodoo brand has fallen into disuse, although HP has retained the name of a Voodoo model, Envy, and used it for its own premium computers.

For its new gaming laptop, HP has resurrected another piece of the Voodoo legacy. The original Voodoo Omen was a gaming desktop PC, but the HP Omen is a slim 15-inch laptop built to compete with the likes of the Razer Blade and the Alienware 13.

This laptop is a looker. It is completely black with a silver hinge, and with what appear to be burn marks at the tips of the hinge. It is a nice touch, although on a serious note, the laptop does not run that warm.

The aluminium lid is covered by tiny triangular indentations, a pattern which is repeated at the base of the laptop. Unfortunately, the lid's matte finish picks up fingerprints and smudges easily.

Tapered sides reinforce the razor-thin impression of the laptop chassis.

However, this design is not practical as it means that the ports and connectors (except for the SD card slot) have to be located at the rear. This is especially inconvenient.

To plug in a USB drive or a pair of headphones, you probably have to turn the laptop around.

As with most gaming laptops, you get to choose the colours for the keyboard backlight using the HP Omen Control app. Different sections of the keyboard can have their own colours. You can assign game commands to six special short-cut keys at the left of the keyboard.

Two speaker vents run down the sides of the keyboard. They have their own backlights, which pulse rhythmically.

The glossy 15-inch touchscreen has a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution. This is lower than the screens of some of its rivals. However, it is a wise move, as the Omen packs only a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics chip.

A higher-resolution screen, such as the 3,200 x 1,800-pixel display on the Razer Blade, would overly tax the system.

In Bioshock Infinite, the Omen scored 51.24 frames per second (fps) at Ultra setting. It also produced a playable 33.26 fps at High setting in Crysis 3. In Windows, everything felt quick and responsive because of its 512GB solid-state drive.

At $3,399, the Omen, with a slightly slower graphics chip and a lower-resolution screen, is cheaper than the Razer Blade ($3,700).

While it is a feast for the eyes, this slim gaming laptop will not break any speed records.

vinchang@sph.com.sg

TECH SPECS

Price: $3,399

Processor: Intel Core i7-4710HQ (2.5GHz)

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M GDDR5 4GB

RAM: 16GB

Screen size: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Connectivity: 4 x USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet port, SD card slot, headphone and microphone combo jack

Battery: 58 watt-hour

RATING

Features: 4/5

Design: 5/5

Performance: 4/5

Value for money: 2/5

Battery life: 2/5

Overall: 4/5


This article was first published on Dec 24, 2014.
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