One of the big things I was expecting to hear more about at this year’s CES was Nvidia's BFGDs – or Big Format Gaming Displays, to use their proper name. Or maybe that’s not the right name to use any more, as we did hear a little bit about Nvidia’s BFGDs at CES this week, in that they’ve now been pulled under the banner of Nvidia’s G-Sync Ultimate brand along with the rest of their high-end HDR screens like the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ and the Acer Predator X27.
But that was sort of it. No big release date, no additional displays to be added to their currently just three-strong line-up. Nadda. Except for HP, that is, as they were the one company whose BFGD (now known by the much grander-sounding name of the Omen X Emperium 65) was on display at CES this year, and they’ve finally given us a price and release date. Brace yourselves, folks, because it ain’t pretty.
Coming sometime next month in February, this giant 65in, 4K, 144Hz, G-Sync HDR screen will cost an eye-watering FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. I would apologise for the all-caps there, but in this case I think it calls for it. Five. Grand. That’s so bonkers I actually burst out laughing when I heard that for the first time, although I suspect a large part of that cost is down to the fact it also has a built-in 120W soundbar.
Yes, the soundbar I saw at Gamescom is still alive, although an Nvidia representative later told me that there may well be a cheaper sans soundbar version as well at some point, because who in their right mind will pay five grand for 65in gaming monitor? (Nvidia didn’t say that last bit, by the way, that’s just me filling in the blanks because, really, if you’ve got that kind of cash to spend on a display like this, you’re almost certainly going to have a proper sound system you’ll probably want to hook up to it instead).
Still, if you don’t already have a decent sound setup and do fancy the idea of replacing your TV with this jumbo gaming screen, at least you probably won’t have to worry about the hassle of finding a subwoofer to go with it. I wasn’t able to listen to the soundbar in person unfortunately – a busy show floor isn’t exactly conducive to such tests - but according to HP, the combination of its so-called ‘three-way stereo crossover system’, its low frequency array and vibration reduction technology means it shouldn’t actually need a separate subwoofer to get those deep, rumbling rattles and explosions we’re all so fond of.
Personally, I’m a little sceptical, as I used to test plenty of soundbars back in a former life and the ones without subwoofers always suffered as a result – unless it was super fancy, which may well be the case here given the extortionate price.
It is laughable that it costs $5000 (UK pricing is yet to be announced, although I’m not sure I actually want to know at this rate), but it also got me thinking about how much the first OLED TVs used to cost back when I tested those as well. I remember some were well over the 10 grand mark when they first launched in the UK, and there were definitely a couple of years circa 2014 when the most ‘affordable’ ones they used to advertise on TV where they fell into the same sort of price category as the Omen X Emperium 65. Now you can pick up a very decent OLED TV for just over a grand, so here’s hoping all the eventual BFGDs do the same in a couple of years time.
As for Acer and Asus’ BFGDs, which were announced alongside HP’s two years ago now, Nvidia told me they’re still on their way, but that both of them are still in development. They wouldn’t be drawn on what any of the problems were – although given the state of their respective 27in G-Sync HDR monitors at the moment, it’s probably not surprising there have been some issues with these as well.
HP, however, seem to have got their act together, and when I hopped on for a quick match of Battlefield V, the Emperium really is quite a sight to behold. Not only did the colours look stunning in HDR, but its 1000cd/m2 brightness and 384 backlighting zones really made the sky and fire from explosions pop out of the screen.
Is it better than your typical high-end £1000 TV, though? Personally, I’m yet to be convinced, especially if your current PC doesn’t have the graphical horsepower to make use of that lovely high 144Hz refresh rate. That will be the main attraction with these screens, I think, plus the added attraction of everything that comes with Nvidia’s G-Sync tech. For me, I’m perfectly happy playing PC games on my 60Hz, non G-Sync enabled telly when I’m down in the living room, and the Emperium will have to work jolly hard to convince me otherwise.
Hopefully I’ll find out in just over a month’s time.
For more news and hands on previews from this year's CES, check out our CES 2019 tag.