HP’s not letting companies like Lenovo and Asus walk all over it. In Beijing this afternoon, the company announced the Slate 21, a 21-inch all-in-one computer that doubles as a gigantic tablet and runs Android rather than Windows 8 like its competitors.
Though more and more AiO-tablet hybrids use Windows as the main operating system and run Android apps and the platform when the devices are in tablet mode, the HP Slate 21 does the opposite. It is first and foremost an Android Jellybean 4.2.2 machine that comes preloaded with the Splashtop 2 HD software that lets you access your Windows computer remotely using the Slate 21, as well as KingSoft office software for work and school.
This is a big difference from the Lenovo IdeaCenter Horizon, which uses the preloaded Bluestacks software to run Android apps within Windows 8, or the Asus Transformer AiO, which boots to Android when you use the screen as a tablet but runs Windows 8 when used as an AiO.
Like most other Android tablets, the Slate 21 is powered by the Nvidia Tegra 4 processor rather than the typical Intel chip in AiOs, which are “slower dual-core CPUs – and they cost more,” according to HP’s blog post announcing the new device. Keeping costs down is a key part of the Slate 21 as the company wants to position the device for the emerging markets like China and Brazil. That’s why the included physical keyboard supports multiple languages in addition to English.
With its 21.5-inch IPS full HD display, at 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, you can easily share the screen with more than one person, whether you prop the it up by its memory hinge (between 15 and 70 degrees) or lie it flat on a table. Unlike other all-in-ones, the Slate 21 skimps on internal storage to cut costs. In fact, it only offers 8GB of on-board storage, but at least it includes an SD Card slot and comes with three USB 2.0 ports so you can plug in an external hard drive to expand its capacity. It also offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity under the hood so the Slate 21 should be able to do what you want right of the box.
HP expects you’ll be sharing the Slate 21 with other users, so the device lets you set up a maximum of five user profiles, meaning you can customize the apps that you and other users see.
At $400, this gigantic 8GB Slate 21 costs the same as a 9.7-inch, Wi-Fi-only, non-Retina iPad 2. They obviously serve different purposes – you hardly expect to slip the HP device into our carry-on bag – but that price tag is still pretty amazing whether for an all-in-one or a tablet. HP won’t be shipping the Slate 21 until this September, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to play with the device before it hits stores.