HP Omen X Emperium 65: Controls, Remote, And Soundbar
The HP Omen X Emperium 65's OSD is littered with controls. There are controls for adjusting color temperature, gamma, and Game Mode (which allows refresh overclocking to 144Hz). There are also settings for the ambient light sensor, local dimming, and for controlling the OMEN LED logo on the back of the display.
When not using the included SHIELD Remote, you can rely on the lighted joystick that is mounted on the back of the display right next to the power button. However, accessing these controls isn't convenient for a display that will likely be mounted high on a wall or an alcove. The OSD is also where you'll have to navigate to enter into the SHIELD TV interface. We'd prefer that there was a dedicated button on the remote to make switching easier, but the current setup works well enough.
At this price point, you'd expect deep blacks and a much higher contrast ratio that this display offers, but considering that we're looking at an MVA panel instead of OLED, the performance can't complete in these areas. The local dimming works for the most part to alleviate black level concerns, but it's not a substitute for a high-quality OLED panel if ultimate image quality is what you seek.
In addition to an array of subjective scenarios, for our testing of the Omen X Emperium 65, we used the Lagom LCD monitor test pages available here. The Lagom LCD monitor test pages provide tests for saturation, banding, sharpness, uniformity, and more.
What we observed in our testing were good white and black level performance. We did notice quite a bit of backlight bleed and a hint of color banding in or testing, however. And color reproduction was quite good when viewed straight on.
We did notice some off-axis color shifting though, which washes images out a bit. This would be less of a concern for a smaller display given that you'd primarily be sitting right in front of the panel at all times. However, the Emperium 65 is a room-filling display that will be used not just for gaming, but for watching movies with multiple people likely spread out across a living room or recreation room. In those instances, the $5,000 price tag might leave you wanting with regards to performance.
The SHIELD Remote
The Omen X Emperium 65 incorporates a built-in NVIDIA SHIELD TV, which completes the smart TV experience. The SHIELD TV is usually available as a separate $150+ streamer for your television, so it's nice to see that it's being included as standard equipment with these Big Format Gaming Displays (BFGD).
However, the actual user experience with the included SHIELD TV remote is far from exemplary. While you can turn on the Omen X Emperium 65 with the remote, you cannot easily and quickly turn it off. Another knock against the controller is that there isn't a dedicated volume rocker or mute button. Instead, you have to rub your thumb along a vertical touch-sensitive strip at the lower face of the remote. Accessing the SHIELD TV interface requires you to dive into the on-display menu system using the remote to switch inputs. Then, backing out of SHIELD TV to hop back into Windows 10 requires even more hunting and pecking on the remote to escape.
We shouldn't be too surprised that navigating with the remote is somewhat cumbersome -- it was designed primarily for use with the SHIELD TV and not as a fully-fledged TV remote replacement. So, its limitations are readily apparent. We wish that for the $5,000 asking price, however, that we could get a remote with a dedicated power button, better volume controls, and buttons to quickly switch between SHIELD TV and Windows 10 operating modes. We also wish that we could fall back on the nifty Google Assistant button to help out by giving more verbal commands, but they are not available for adjusting TV controls an only accessible when using the SHIELD TV functionality.
Interestingly, HP includes a soundbar with the Omen X Emperium 65, although it may have been better to have left the accessory out to knock a bit off the MSRP. That’s not to say that the soundbar is bad; it’s more than adequate and provides room filling sound. It’s a massive unit that fits in nicely between the two legs of the TV if you’re sitting it on a stand.
Compared to built-in speakers that come standard on every other smart TV on the market, this included soundbar is by far a superior-sounding unit. Volume output is outstanding, and bass levels were surprisingly adequate. However, we can’t help but think that this soundbar would go to waste in many instances. While it’s far superior to run-of-the-mill TV speakers, those that can afford a display of this caliber probably already have a dedicated sound system that will blow the Omen X Emperium 65’s included sound bar out of the water.