Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
HP Omni 27 all-in-one PC
A very well built PC with good features, but plenty of unnecessary bloatware
- Excellent build quality and features
- Great screen, powerful specifications
- HDMI input (with Game mode)
- Graphics card is mediocre
- Loaded with HP bloatware
If you love the look of a new iMac, but don't want to change away from Windows, HP's Omni27 is a near-perfect solution. It's big, pretty and powerful with few flaws.
Price$ 2,499.00 (AUD)
The HP Omni27 is an all-in-one PC that, rather refreshingly, doesn’t have a touchscreen. We know the comparison is probably hackneyed, but in many specifications it’s very similar to the 27in Apple iMac; we think that if you’re looking for an iMac without the Mac OS X trappings, you’d be well served with the Omni27. It’s a well-rounded product and has reasonable performance figures.
HP Omni27: Design, setup and features
The HP Omni27, as the name suggests, is built around a 27in screen. It’s a Full HD 1080p LED-backlit LCD, and while its resolution at 1920x1080pixels isn’t that impressive compared to the 27in iMac’s 2560x1440 (also shared by most 27in and 30in standalone monitors), the screen is crisp and colours are very impressive. Brightness can be adjusted in ten increments from very bright to not-so-bright, but the screen’s high reflectivity means you can see yourself in it at low brightness settings: we kept it at maximum for the most part.
We should mention the build quality of the Omni27: this all-in-one is well constructed. While the overall package isn’t quite up to the design level of an Apple all-in-one or notebook, the HP is very solid and is constructed of high quality materials. We don’t see it breaking or falling apart any time soon. The bundled mouse isn’t anything special but the keyboard (again, an almost-Apple chiclet keyboard with sloping rear edge) is good to type on, despite having a miniature left Shift key.
Below the screen lies a good quality set of stereo speakers in a soundbar. They’re not going to win any awards, but they are clear and capable enough for playing music or a Blu-ray movie. We had Terminator: Salvation playing at full volume without any distortion and reasonably clear treble, although bass was next to nonexistant and mid-range is moderate at best.
Up the top of the screen is a 1.3-megapixel webcam and the Omni27’s power button. The right side of the all-in-one’s chassis houses the slot-loading Blu-ray drive and a variety of buttons. These buttons serve the HDMI input below them: you can use the screen of the Omni27 as a 27in Full HD monitor to conceivably plug in a games console. This is an excellent value-adding feature, letting the Omni27 replace a small LCD TV in a cramped apartment, study or child’s bedroom.
Swap sides to the left and you’ll find some commonly-used inputs. The system’s two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, SD/MS/xD card reader and microphone/headphone jacks (with requisite Beats Audio logo) are recessed into a small cavity but are easily accessible. Around the back of the HP Omni 27 are more permanent ports like Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0, a subwoofer audio output, and a jack for a TV antenna.
The HP Omni27 does come with a Windows Media Centre remote control, and you can use the integrated tuner with WMC to run the system as a reasonably capable TV. It’s not perfect compared to a proper TV, of course — there’s some lag on channel changing and the software can be complicated to navigate — but as a replacement TV it does a pretty good job. Combined with the HDMI input the Omni27 is well on its way to replacing the standalone TV in our cramped apartment scenario.
Running the HP Omni27 through its initial Windows setup is a chore, though. HP has a lot of extraneous software pre-installed on the Omni27: some of it is reasonably useful like a trial of Norton Internet Security, and some of it is of limited use like HP’s touch-optimised Magic Canvas (née Touchsmart) software. You’ll have to run through over half a dozen screens of HP software prompts during the initial Windows setup (do you want to use Magic Canvas? Do you want Norton Online Backup?). We opted to leave all of it deactivated, but if you want to go as far as uninstalling it it’s a half-hour long process.
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