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Hands On: HP’s Omen X 2S 15 Gaming Laptop Packs a Strategic Second Screen

A small touch display on the keyboard deck of HP’s latest high-end Omen X laptop aims to power up your gameplay. Let’s take a peek.
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Hands On: HP's Omen X 2S 15 Gaming Laptop Packs a Strategic Second Screen

Today’s high-end gaming laptops are beginning to hit feature parity, with most offering luxe perks such as high-refresh screens, Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics, and snappy SSD boot drives. To stand out in this field, laptop makers need to find new ways to differentiate, so HP figured: Why not add a second screen?

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The Omen X 2S 15 is the result of this experiment, joining the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo as a dual-screen solution. The two go about the concept a bit differently, though. Being a gaming laptop, the Omen X 2S 15’s smaller display is designed to complement the main screen while playing. The Omen X 2S 15 starts at $ 2,099.99 and is available for pre-order now, with shipping to begin on June 20. We got to check it out before launch, so read on for photos and impressions.

  • Meet the HP Omen X 2S 15

    First, the laptop basics. The Omen X 2S 15 is a 15-inch laptop with a moderately thin build and an all-black chassis. It measures 0.78 by 14.3 by 10.3 inches and weighs 5.2 pounds. Given the screen size and that it’s a gaming machine, that’s totable enough, but it’s not the kind of machine you want to carry with you daily.

    The general shape of the hinge area might look a little familiar. Why? Because it’s more than a bit like that of the Alienware m15 and m17 laptops—at least before Alienware revised the line, starting with the Area-51m.

  • Keeping the Gaming Theme Simple

    The lid design is restrained, with a plain finish and a relatively small, non-garish Omen logo. Past Omen laptops have had busier lids, and this is a clean look that wouldn’t make it out of place in a public space. Increasingly, gaming-laptop manufacturers seem to be adopting a more minimalist look, which I’ve personally been waiting for, so I’m all in favor. You can tell it’s a gaming laptop, but nothing about the design is over the top.
  • A Not-So-Standard Keyboard Layout

    Where the Omen X 2S 15 does mix it up is the keyboard area. What should be immediately obvious, besides the secondary display, is the keyboard location. It’s pushed down to the front, which is not the first time we’ve seen that. (Some of the Asus ROG Zephyrus laptops come to mind.) In this case, it’s to make room for the display above, but it’s also designed to mimic the feel of a desktop keyboard, which is usually pushed to the edge of a desk or drawer. The touchpad being moved to the side does, in my experience, take some getting used to, but you adapt after some time using it. (And if you’re gaming, you’re almost certainly using an attached or wireless mouse.)

    The keys are individually backlit, so feel free to customize the colors and lights to your heart’s content. I didn’t get a chance to type too much on the keyboard, but the keys felt serviceable in my limited poking around.

  • The Main Event: A Second Screen

    Now, on to that second screen. It’s not a full display that spans the entire width of the keyboard deck, like on the ZenBook Pro Duo, but acts a smaller sort of “reference” or side screen. It’s a touch display with a full HD (1080p) resolution.

    The second screen presents plenty of potential use cases, but HP highlights some particular gaming-focused ideas. You can send your application of choice to the second screen by pressing a dedicated physical button. More specifically, though, it’s suited for apps that run on the side or in the background while you play, such as Twitch, Discord, or Spotify.

    In these examples, you can watch a stream as you play something else, play a game and see messages from your friends without minimizing or pulling up a window over your game, and change songs. Those are just a few use cases, and even within those applications are multiple possible scenarios for second-screening.

  • A Closer Look at the Second Screen

    The second screen is fairly small, at just 6 inches on the diagonal, so menus end up much more condensed than on a standard display. Depending on the application, the text can be tiny, and some menus aren’t optimized or designed for touch as a primary input means, so I could see Spotify, for example, being a little imprecise. I didn’t get to try it with a wide range of apps, however, so I’ll reserve judgment on its functionality until I can test it more extensively myself.

    Beyond using separate programs that you shunt to the screen, it’s also possible to monitor system settings from the display, as shown here. You can swap between profiles, change lighting, and monitor component statistics from the second screen. These are the types of vital system info that you don’t always need to have pulled up on your main screen, but are handy to have easy access to.

  • High-End Components, to Boot

    Inside, the Omen X 2S 15 is much more like other modern gaming laptops. The options tend toward the higher-end, though, which should be discernible from the price tag. Not all of that cash is going toward the second display.

    Your component options include an Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 or RTX 2080 graphics, up to 32GB of memory, and anywhere from 256GB to 2TB of SSD storage. Of course, we’ll have to wait for a review unit to see how it performs, but on paper, these are some beefy parts.

  • Oh Yeah…There’s a Big Screen Too

    The main display is 15.6 inches on the diagonal and comes in two forms. You can get either a full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) IPS screen with a 144Hz maximum refresh rate, or a 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) IPS display. Gaming at 4K is a steep ask, so if that’s your aim, I’d only pair that panel with a GeForce RTX 2080 (and even then, hitting 60 frames per second will be difficult in some games). The “lesser” 1080p screen option should have much more mass appeal, and will satisfy competitive e-sports types with the option to push very high frame rates in less demanding titles.
  • A Peek at the Connectivity on the Left…

    Finally, a look at the profile and ports. As you can see, the Omen X 2S 15 is trim enough for a gaming laptop, but not truly skinny like some models in the Asus, MSI, or Razer lines. The left edge is home to two USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI output, an Ethernet jack, and a headset jack.
  • …and on the Right

    On the other edge, you’ll spot another USB 3.1 port, plus a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support. Gaming machines having at least one USB-C port is becoming increasingly standard, but Thunderbolt 3 support is not, so the inclusion of both is welcome.

    That’s all I could glean from the HP Omen X 2S 15 for now, in my limited time spent with the machine, but check back for a full review once we get our mitts on a review unit.

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