June 12, 2024


Sapiens Digital

HP Omen Sequencer – Review 2020

5 min read

The HP Omen Sequencer ($143.99) is a gaming keyboard cliché. Dressed in oh-so-edgy black and metallic red and loaded with a bushel basket of features, it is, as they say, a whole mood. While it’s been on the market for some time (long enough for HP to lop $36 off its original $179.99 price), the Sequencer’s toolkit—which includes fast opto-mechanical key switches, USB pass-through, and dedicated macro keys—keeps it in the conversation with many of today’s best and costliest gaming keyboards. Unfortunately, its rough edges show a smidge when you take a closer look at its configuration software. Even so, the Sequencer is an impressive specimen as pure hardware.

One Key at a Time

The Sequencer looks surprisingly small for a 109-key setup. The chassis measuring 2 by 18.7 by 6.9 inches, its keys have been placed very close together, though not close enough to cause typing errors. (It does, however, minimize the RGB lighting to the color coming through the legends and out the sides.)

HP Omen Sequencer Gaming Keyboard Angle Right

The look is all doom and gloom: The dark gray aluminum top case is bordered by black plastic and topped with black keycaps, with the only flourish being an oversized metallic red volume roller at top right. The corners of the rectangular shape have been trimmed to make it feel sharper and more angular, while also cutting away some unnecessary mass.

The Sequencer features opto-mechanical keys, which are made to feel like clicky “blue” mechanical switches but use a laser to trigger actuation. As I’ve discussed in other reviews, proponents of optical switches claim they offer myriad benefits over standard mechanical switches, including an imperceptible decrease in input lag by eliminating debounce delay plus extended durability due to fewer breakable parts. As with many of the optical keyboards I’ve tested, the real-world benefits of the Sequencer’s switches are not immediately apparent, but they’re as accurate and consistent as mechanical keys while feeling and sounding identical to standard blue switches, which is a good thing.

HP Omen Sequencer Gaming Keyboard Volume Roller

Beyond the typing experience, the Omen Sequencer has most of the major quality-of-life upgrades commonly found on gaming keyboards. In the top right corner, you’ll find a set of dedicated media control keys. Just above them, attached to an angular plastic bit of molding, are a mute button and the aforementioned volume roller, which has a nice, textured feel but has a looser action than I personally prefer.

At top left, just under one of those cut-off corners, is a USB pass-through port. I would have liked HP to put it on the other side—since I’m right-handed, my mouse cord has to double back behind the keyboard—but it’s still a flashy and effective feature.

HP Omen Sequencer Gaming Keyboard USB Pass

Just below the pass-through port are five dedicated macro keys labeled P1 through P5. Having an extra set of customizable keys remains one of the rarest but most indulgent keyboard additions, and having them on the left side, near the other prime gaming keys, is incredibly useful. (However, I always find the additional space on the left end of the board leads to at least a day or two of less-than-stellar typing until I find my fingering.) There’s also a dedicated key for bringing up HP’s Omen Command Center configuration app, which can be very helpful if you change profiles from game to game or remap your keys often.

Chain of Command Issues

My issues with the Sequencer all manifest on the software side. For its Omen line of gaming gear, HP offers a configuration app called the Omen Command Center that lets you record macros and customize lighting, among other things. The utility looks polished, but lacks a lot of functionality.

HP Omen Sequencer Gaming Keyboard function button settings

The Sequencer configuration section has two panels, one for customizing the RGB lighting and the other for creating macros and assigning them to the dedicated macro keys. Both are easy to do, which is great, but there are a few core customizations missing.

First, you can only customize the macro keys. (Most keyboards with this kind of app will let you reassign any key.) Second, you can’t assign them standard keyboard functions or system-level commands—you’re limited to creating custom macros, two-key shortcuts, or boilerplate text or launching apps. All told, you have less control here than with most gaming keyboards, let alone the most expensive.

HP Omen Sequencer Gaming Keyboard macros settings

The configuration profile system is similarly feature-starved. You can create as many profiles as you like, which is great, but each profile must be tied to a single, specific game on your system. You can’t create genre-specific configurations for multiple games. HP says it will soon release a new version of Omen Command Center that will add cloud syncing, so your profiles will be accessible on any device with Command Center once you’ve logged in, but no early version was available for this review.

Furthermore, since your saved profiles are synced to your HP account and can only be accessed when you’re signed in, you must create an account, giving the company your name and email address, to get full access to its features.

Sadly, that’s not the only time HP tries to use Omen Command Center to access your personal data. In addition to the keyboard configuration options, Command Center offers a couple of broader software features, including a local cloud game streaming utility and a rewards program that will enter you into various IRL sweepstakes for hitting certain gameplay milestones (a chance to win a $50 Buffalo Wild Wings gift card for playing 30 minutes of Call of Duty, for instance).

HP Omen Sequencer Gaming Keyboard rewards

The rewards program gives Omen Command Center a strong bloatware vibe: The program asks for broad access to PC usage data, including your location. The keyboard and customization options work fine without giving HP access to your private info, so I recommend you reject these requests and avoid these features. Even so, it feels like an overreach, especially when you already have to create an account to use the full features of the keyboard.

Bad Omen, Good Keyboard

It’s a shame that HP had to muck up the Sequencer with ho-hum software. Even at its original price, it offered a number of great features and a comfortable if slightly compact typing experience.

HP Omen Sequencer Gaming Keyboard Angle Left

As is, the Omen Sequencer’s software keeps it from reaching the pantheon of elite gaming keyboards. For everything great it does, it doesn’t do anything that other keyboards don’t, and among high-end keyboards, even a single design flaw is enough to drop to the middle of the pack. Ultimately, you can spend less to get one of our favorite keyboards, such as the SteelSeries Apex 7 or Corsair K95 Platinum, which are similarly flush with fine features and fewer caveats.

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