When we reviewed the HP TouchSmart 610-1030a all-in-one last year, we questioned just how useful most users would find the touch interface on a desktop PC. Thankfully HP has provided a non-touch alternative for those not likely to find much benefit from (and aren’t willing to pay extra for) a touchscreen-packing desktop unit. The Omni 27 Quad is also the company’s first 27-inch all-in-one model ... read on for our hands-on review.
Omni 27 Quad series specs
Our review unit came with Windows 7 Home Premium pre-installed and was powered by an Intel Core i7-2600S processor running at 2.80 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, and with a 2 GB AMD Radeon HD 6550A graphics card. There was also a 2 TB 7200 rpm HDD for storage, Beats audio, Blu-ray drive and a digital TV tuner and accompanying remote and IR blaster for turning the unit into a DVR via Windows Media Center.
This is a step or two up from the standard configuration, which features an Intel Core i5-2400S CPU running at 2.5 GHz with integrated Intel H61 graphics, 1 TB 7200 rpm HDD and SuperMulti DVD burner. An RF wireless keyboard and mouse also come as standard.
There’s a coax aerial input for digital TV on the rear alongside the port for the IR blaster, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 3.5 mm stereo audio-out, subwoofer out and four USB 2.0 ports. Two additional USB ports can be found on the left side of the unit, this time of the USB 3.0 variety, along with a 6-in-1 card reader and mic and headphone ports. Neither the USB 3.0 ports or 6-in-1 card reader come as standard. On the right side are the optical drive slot, volume and input buttons, and an HDMI input – also not standard.
It’s also worth noting that the rear of the unit can be removed without too much trouble, allowing for user upgrades of various components – something that isn’t always easy with all-in-one models. The unit feels well built and the included stand is sturdy and stable.
Big is beautiful
With all the hardware packed behind a 27-inch edge-to-edge glass display, it’s not surprising that the first thing you’ll probably notice about the Omni 27 is its weight. Tipping the scales at around 15 kg (33 lb), you won’t want to be moving this thing around on a regular basis, but that’s obviously not what it’s designed for. The included remote and coax input, coupled with the large HD display underscore the unit’s multimedia focus.
Once set up and switched on though, the 1920 x 1080p display quickly proves its worth for TV/movie duties – although might need to draw the curtains during the day to avoid reflections on the glass display. Video is sharp and bright and the front speakers provide good audio performance. The ability to easily add a subwoofer only sweetens the deal.
However, the lack of any swivel on the included stand – coupled with the weight of the unit – could make switching from the desk chair to the lounge/bed a hassle. The stand also tilts back from vertical up to 25 degrees, which is fine if you’re looking at the screen from straight on or above, but a slight tilt forward might have been nice for those looking to watch a movie while chilling out in a bean bag or low slung chair. We should note that a VESA mount can be purchased separately though.
The Omni 27 is also the first non-touchscreen model to feature HP’s Magic Canvas user interface. This was previously known as the TouchSmart interface and has been retooled slightly for non-touch input. Sitting over the top of the Windows interface and clearly aiming for simplicity, it’s something that HP intends to include on all its tower and all-in-one PCs. The revamped interface now allows access to the Windows task bar and Start menu and all Windows apps, meaning you can pretty much use the interface for everything if you prefer. If not, you can simply ignore it or uninstall it.
With Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) not included with Windows 7 Home Premium, the inclusion of HP’s LinkUp application that lets users access and edit content from a notebook HP Windows PC on the Omni 27’s big screen is a plus.
Clearly aimed at the consumer market after a PC with strong multimedia capabilities, the Omni 27 definitely hits its target. Although hard-core gamers and power users will want to look elsewhere, the unit provides impressive multimedia performance in a competitively priced package, with HP providing plenty of custom upgrade options for those willing to shell out a bit extra for more grunt. However, most of those users at which the Omni 27 is targeted will probably get by with the standard, or close to the standard, configuration.
The HP Omni 27 starts at US$1,149.99.
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