At last year's Computex, Asus announced Project Precog, a proof of concept, AI-powered notebook supposedly releasing later in 2019. Before that, you may remember that, at CES 2017, Razer made a splash with its Project Valerie triple-screen gaming laptop. Now, following in the footsteps of its competitors, HP is making its own dual-screen gaming laptop, namely the HP Omen X 2S.
Revealed to the press last week at the HP Gaming Festival in Beijing, alongside refreshed versions of the HP Omen 15 and 17, several gaming mice, a wireless charging mousepad and a 25-inch monitor, the Omen X 2S starts at $2,099.99. As such, HP says, it's meant for "affluent gamers" whose lavish tastes demand "the latest tech to optimize their experience." The second screen in particular sits above the RGB per-key backlit keyboard and is quite small given its 1080p resolution, at 6 inches diagonal. Survey says, it's intended to replace your smartphone while gaming.
In China, according to the Gamer Mobile Screen Stacking report conducted by an organization called 'Lightspeed' in October 2018, 89 percent of respondents said they use their mobile phones while gaming. To circumvent that distraction, the HP Omen X 2S's second screen introduces a wealth of features for which you would otherwise need to whip out your phone.
These include practical gaming features like an Adaptive Omen Command Center UI and real-time performance monitoring and unrelated multitasking features like instant messaging, online video streaming and Windows apps. You can also turn the miniature display into a virtual numberpad, a la the latest Asus Zenbook 14. If you want, you can even view a cropped version of your gameplay from the main 15.6-inch screen and interact with it to some degree.
Of course, without the proper support from developers, this added functionality means nothing. We do know the second screen can be used to stream media from Twitch, Mixer, YouTube and Spotify. However, it's unclear whether or not developers have to personally optimize their games and software for what will inevitably be a niche, low-volume product. Nevertheless, beyond its primary value proposition, on paper the HP Omen X 2S boast some mighty impressive specs.
For one, it's 0.78 inches thin, therefore its profile ought to resemble the Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model, the best gaming laptop we've reviewed. As with most portable gaming systems deemed "sleek and powerful" by their creators, HP trumpets thin bezels for its dual-screen machine, though in truth these remind me of the Alienware m15—"micro-edge" on the left and right sides of the screen, big and bulky on the bottom and top. Unlike many gaming laptops we're seeing these days, for the main screen, you'll have the option of either a 1080p (120Hz/144Hz) or a 4K HDR 400 (60Hz) display that favors resolution over refresh rate. No matter how you slice it, the Omen X 2S has native G-Sync in each of its many configurations.
Inside its slim chassis, you can furnish it with Intel 9th gen H-series graphics and up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics. Also unique to the Omen X 2S is the Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut thermal paste HP applied to its CPU. The company claims this eutectic alloy-based liquid metal thermal compound will result in 28 percent performance gains in Apex Legends and 8.9 percent faster rendering in Blender. Rest assured, I'll test the accuracy of that assessment when I get my hands on a review unit at some point in the near future.
Differentiating itself from the likes of Asus and Acer, who, as I mentioned before, have proposed multi-screen laptops of their own in the past, the HP Omen X 2S is actually slated to come out before June. For that reason, it is technically the first-ever dual-screen gaming laptop. Once again, though, it costs more than two grand to start. That presents a steep barrier to entry for all but the most "affluent gamers," which I guess is what HP's going for. Budget-minded gamers can either turn to the company's midrange Pavilion lineup or any of the best budget laptops for gaming.