HP stays in the game with Omen gaming laptop

The new 15.6-inch notebook mixes performance prowess with portability, though it doesn't come cheap at a starting price of $1,499.99.


Way back when, HP purchased VoodooPC, a boutique gaming PC builder, to help bolster its cred as it entered that profitable niche. The acquisition, as with many involving Hewlett-Packard, didn't exactly go well, though it did yield some of HP's more interesting PCs, such as the Blackbird 002 desktop and Envy laptop.

That was years ago, however, so it comes as a great surprise that HP has taken a page out of the past for its latest notebook. The new Omen not only shares a name with an VoodooPC desktop, but also includes some of the design touches that the boutique once brought to its high-end machines.

Despite the backstory, the Omen is essentially a midrange gaming laptop that has plenty of competition (such as the Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition and the pricier Razer Blade ) for fraggers on the go. It includes an Intel Core i7-4710HQ quad-core processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics with either 2GB or 4GB of video RAM. The 15.6-inch display possesses 1,920x1,080 full HD resolution and touchscreen capabilities, and audio is pumped out by BeatsAudio-based speakers. The base model comes with 128GB of solid-state storage and 8GB of RAM, but you can choose to double the RAM and get either a 256GB or 512GB SSD.  

HP hopes the Omen differentiates itself from the pack with its design, rather than its specs. The company claims that many of the touches -- rubber feet on the bottom, the custom chrome hinge -- are helpful in dissipating heat, the mortal enemy of mobile gaming. It also says it's optimized the keyboard for gameplay, and included a half-dozen programmable keys for custom game functions. Keyboard backlighting can be customized with a choice of colors over seven separate zones, and the speakers can additionally have their lighting tweaked as well.

The Omen is available now in three standard configurations: the $1,499.99 one includes 2GB of video RAM, 8GB of system memory, and a 128GB SSD; the $1,599.99 version doubles the solid-state storage; and the $1,699.99 model doubles both the video RAM and SSD capacity. Doubling the RAM is a custom option for another $125, while moving to a 512GB SSD will set you back a further $200. Accessories, which should be available starting this month, include the Omen Gaming Mouse X9000 for $59.99 and the Omen Gaming Backpack for $79.99.

Ironicially, the man behind VoodooPC, Rahul Sood, is also in the news. After selling his company to HP in 2006, he remained as an "evangelist" for the company through 2010 before joining Microsoft. He has just resigned from that company, where he worked on Microsoft Ventures , to start up a new gaming company he's calling Unikrn.