The all in one PC has metamorphosed from a dreary home office essential into a device that's versed in top-notch multimedia. Up until now, Apple's iMac has dominated the 27" segment, motivating customers to abandon the Windows operating system for Apple's OS X. HP has stepped into the ring with their rendition of a 27 inch all-in-one thatâ€”on paperâ€”has the repertoire to take on the reigning champ. But will the Omni 27 be able to hold its own against such a competitive foe?
Right from the start, HP's Omni 27 is already endowed with a competitive advantage as it runs Microsoft Windows. Despite the rising popularity of Apple's OS X, Windows remains the dominant OS and still benefits from unwavering software (and hardware) support.
There have been many all-in-one computers before the Omni 27, and most Windows renditions have made the fatal mistake of incorporating unnecessary touch screens. Unfortunately, Windows was never intended to work with touch gestures, so the end result is a capable computer using half-baked software that tries to disguise how illiterate the OS is to touch recognition.
HP has been guilty of such indiscretions before, but they haven't bothered with the gimmick this time round and it works in the Omni's favour.
HP will sell the Omni in a variety of configurations with the processor, graphics card, hard-drive, disc drive and much more open to configuration. Our review unit was high up in the range and featured a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2TB AMD Radeon HD 6550D graphics card and a 2TB Disk Drive.
The Windows Performance Index scored the processor and RAM with a reputable 7.5 and 7.6 respectively: high scores considering it's only out of 7.9. Graphics and the disk drives scored less favourably, with the lowest score a mediocre 5.9.
With all of the parts working together, the Omni delivers an experience that feels effortless, whizzing through your-run-of-the-mill computing chores. The only time it'll stumble is when it comes to running console-grade games as its poor performance compels users to nominate less intensive settings. However, users with a game console can plug it into the comp's HDMI port and use its screen as the game display.
The Omni's build quality is downright exceptional, with the brushed steel base cornering pleasant to look at and sensual to touch. The silver provides a sublime contrast with the subtle black bezel and speaker grill, while it achieves a two tone affect with the natural glisten of the screen.
All-in-one computers are dominated by an illustrious screen that acts as a versatile canvass. It is on this blank sheet of pixels that home office utilities become accessible, while photos and movies engross. The 27 inch Omni features a Full HD (1920x1080) resolution screen that articulates a vast gamut of colours. Although the screen is distinguished by a reflective coating, colours retain their vibrancy, credibly persuading most to nominate the Blu-ray disc drive as an optional extra.
Admittedly Apple's iMac has a higher screen resolution, but the difference isn't so much that it'd make the HP a deal-breaker.
Built into the monolithic screen are BeatsAudio speakers that are ideal music and video playback. They deliver sound with enough mid-high end punch that there's no need for an external speaker set. However (and I never thought I'd say this about Dre's brand), they're lacking in bass and would fail to deliver cinematic theatrics without the optional $129 Pulse sub-woofer. Although they're good on their own, only consider the optional woofer if you're after the kind of sound that induces goosebumps.
The peripheral devices that come with the Omni 27 are great additions. The wireless mouse is comfortable, simple and fluent enough for efficient use, while the keyboard bodes well, even though it is characterised by shallow range. Weirdly, the keyboard's inability to absorb all key-stroke shock motivates you to type ergonomically.
This cocktail of high-end tech comes with a $2,500 price tag. At first it seems exorbitant, but a similarly spec'd Apple iMac barely comes in under $2,400, and even then it doesn't have an in built Blu-ray drive. Having said that, the HP brand doesn't have the prestige Apple does, and a lower price-point would've helped make the Omni a more attractive option.
By coupling entertainment essentials without neglecting home office needs, the Omni 27 proves to be an elegant space saving solution without the compromise. The display is good enough to warrant investing in the optional Blu-ray player and TV tuner, adding an additional layer of entertainment value in the sleek package. This way, the Omni can be the go-to device for a room's entertainment and professional needs.
So far, the Omni 27 is the best value for money Windows all-in-one PC. But if you don't care about the operating system, turn to the reigning Apple iMac champ, who continues to evade all-in-one offerings based on the laurels of its thorough design.