The cheekily-named “BFGD” program—for “Big Format Gaming Display,” and nothing else—was announced at CES 2018, a full year ago. We expected these overpowered, gamer-friendly screens to hit shelves before the end of that year. The wait was worth it.
Technically, the HP Omen X Emperium 65 is only a “display,” not a TV—a distinction required in the US because it lacks a tuner for over-the-air TV programming. But what it lacks in rabbit ears it makes up in every other category. Looking at it purely as a TV, it’s a 65-inch, quantum-dot, 4K HDR screen, with a 120Hz refresh rate. Which is nice. But that won’t get people to fork over five grand for a don’t-call-it-a-TV.
What will? Let’s break it down. First, since it’s technically a gigantic gaming monitor and not a conventional TV, it comes with G-SYNC. That’s NVIDIA’s anti-tearing frame-syncing system that slows down the refresh rate of the panel to match dips and valleys in a PC game’s performance. It’s enabled by an extra bit of NVIDIA hardware built into the screen. But it’s not the only extra bit, because there’s also a built-in SHIELD to handle the Omen’s smart TV functions. NVIDIA told us that this is the same Tegra X1-based system as the stand-alone SHIELD, which is far and away the best set-top box on the market. It will even get its frequent software updates directly from NVIDIA at the same time. The TV’s remote is a SHIELD remote, naturally.
Not enough? Understandable. How about the included sound bar? While even the most expensive TVs from the likes of Samsung and LG expect you to shell out for anything over the standard speakers, the Omen X Emperium comes with its beefy soundbar in the box. The bar features 120 watts of power from its included drivers and integrated subwoofer. It’s pretty stylish, too, sliding in under the TV’s stand legs, or attaching to the bottom if you’re mounting to a wall with the massive 400mmx400mm VESA mount. (Be sure not to miss the studs.)
Still not enough? Take a closer look at that back. In addition to being surprisingly attractive for a bunch of plastic you’ll never see—dig that Omen branding—it includes its own built-in bias light. The LED bar at the top of the rear panel splashes light onto your wall, reacting to the content of your movie or game and flashing the corresponding average of the colors in real-time. No need for stick-on LED strips, though if you’re not a fan, you can turn it off.
For their “one more thing” moment, HP reps showed us the I/O panel. On top of four HDMI ports, a DisplayPort for your gaming PC, and two USB ports for plugging in accessories to the Android-based SHIELD, the panel has a proximity sensor. So when you reach around the back and the TV detects your hand, it activates a smaller LED strip and lighted labels for every port. There’s no need to grab your phone for an impromptu flashlight.
PC gamers who want a living room display that can handle direct G-SYNC input from a desktop PC are a niche market. And those who can afford this $5000 slab of technological opulence will be an even smaller group. But for those who are already drooling, the HP Omen X Emperium will be shipping next month. We’re told models from other manufacturers will follow later in 2019.