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Gaming, Nvidia Shield, Windows and Movies
Naturally, I couldn’t wait to play a few games from my G-Sync test system, a Digital Storm PC, so I hooked it up to the Omen X 65 Emperium’s DisplayPort and laid out my keyboard and mouse.
Jumping right into my favorite HDR title, Call of Duty: WWII, I was immediately drawn into a larger-than-life gaming environment. Even the largest curved ultra-wide can’t pull a player in like the Omen X 65 Emperium. I can see why gaming on TVs is so popular. With the UHD detail, color and contrast afforded by this insane display, it’s hard to image better. Plus, control inputs were instantly met with action, and there was never a single stutter or hiccup in performance. Framerates at the game’s highest detail level hovered around 120 fps.
Tomb Raider was an equally fun experience, albeit without HDR or DCI color. The detail was stupendous, and with framerates solidly above 100 fps at Ultimate detail, I saw a level of realism beyond the norm.
Far Cry 4 also impressed, with organic textures and the movement of nearly every plant in the environment. Grass swayed smoothly without any breakup or pixelation. Dust clouds rose realistically from the earth with no hint of moiré or compression. Enemies’ flesh tones and clothing also partook in the game’s hyper-realistic textures. After hours of gaming, it was hard to tear myself away to write this review.
And then there’s the quality audio coming from that soundbar. Effects were rich and dynamic with solid bass and well-controlled midrange tones. Highs came through clearly and without distortion. If you’re used to cheap computer speakers or low budget headphones, the Omen X 65’s soundbar will present your games in a whole new dimension.
I spent an afternoon browsing through Nvidia Shield’s hundreds of free games, any of which can be played within a few minutes after logging into Nvidia’s online service. You will need the Shield controller, however, so it’s a shame it’s not included with the monitor. You’ll also need a speedy internet connection. I had a few hiccups with my Wi-Fi that caused occasional pauses. A hard-wired connection is best for streaming games.
I also binged on YouTube and Netflix for a few hours. Accessing content on these services is a breeze with the little remote. It looks like the interface on any smart TV, so it will be instantly familiar to smart TV owners. Response was immediate, with material loading within a few seconds. Quality depends on the source material, but the Omen X 65 Emperium handheld video processing chores like a reference pro display. It decoded framerate cadences correctly without stutter or breakup. HDR content shows properly with the monitor switching seamlessly to HDR mode.
The Shield service is easily the best streaming interface I’ve experienced. Not only does it work flawlessly, it’s quick and intuitive--more than I can say for many smart TVs. And the added game content is something you won’t find anywhere else.
I used the Omen X 65 Emperium with a PC running Windows 10, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card and Windows font scaling defaulted to 300 percent. This made everything very large, which is helpful when sitting more than 5 feet away from the screen. I tried setting the value to 100 percent, but it made fonts and small icons a bit soft. Why? Because the screen has a density of just 68.3 pixels per inch (ppi). As impressive as UHD is, it provides a lot more clarity at small screen sizes. A 32-inch display works out to 137.7ppi, for example. In the Omen X 65 Emperium’s case, 300 percent is more appropriate for its intended viewing distances.
To see if the Omen x 65 Emperium could serve as a high-end TV, I hooked up an OPPO UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray player and spun some shiny discs.
By the letter of FCC guidelines, HP can’t call the Omen X 65 Emperium a TV because it doesn’t have a tuner. But it is in every way that matters a fantastic TV. Only a handful of high-end consumer displays can boast a 384-zone backlight, which makes for great HDR. Honestly, it gives little or nothing away to OLED; it looks that good.
A few clips from Planet Earth II proved its mastery of video processing. It correctly handled 24p film material with perfect smoothness. Camera pans both slow and fast happened without stutter or motion blur. There is no backlight strobe in operation, but the panel’s response was far superior to most rank-and-file LCD TVs or monitors. Color and contrast were reference-level with some of the lushest greens, warmest reds and deepest blues I've ever seen on a video display.
To check out black levels, I watched several space battle scenes from Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi. Thanks to those 384 dimming zones, there were no visible halo effects. Space had a nice inky blackness with stars that twinkled brightly. This is what HDR is meant for. Textures like Poe Dameron’s razor-stubbled face or the dirty surfaces of ship hulls and control panels looked three-dimensional and never soft or undefined, even while moving.
I’ve reviewed many consumer displays—from monitors to TVs and projectors—some of which cost much more than this HP. I can’t think of a single one that performs at the Omen X 65 Emperium’s level while offering so much entertainment capability. It’s a premium TV, massive PC monitor and content aggregator all in a single product.
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Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.