HP’s Slate 21 Android AIO Can Be Used as Tablet, Desktop

The vendor’s new system, introduced at a show in China, is the latest device from vendors that are experimenting with new form factors.

Hewlett-Packard is introducing an Android-based all-in-one that can be used as a desktop PC or a tablet.

HP officials unveiled the Slate 21 AIO June 24 at their HP World Tour event in Beijing, showing off a device that includes a 21.5-inch touch-screen display that can be used as a tablet or propped up with a kickstand and used as a desktop.

It also is powered by Nvidia’s latest chip, the Tegra 4, which the chip maker introduced in January at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. The Tegra 4 is expected to offer significantly better graphics capabilities than Nvidia’s Tegra 3.

The Slate 21, which will run Google’s Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) operating system, includes built-in speakers and a Webcam and can support wireless printing.

The all-in-one is the latest device to illustrate the experimentation system makers are doing with clients, particularly ones running Android. The traditional PC market is continuing to contract, with consumers and business users spending more of their technology dollars on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

At the same time, Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system hasn’t had the kind of positive impact on PC sales that the software maker and others had hoped for, and Windows 8-based tablets are still relatively new and just coming into the market. That said, at the show in China, HP officials also reportedly talked about the Split X2, a Windows 8-based tablet that comes with a detachable keyboard.

OEMs are rolling out a host of new form factors, with many looking to give users the best of both PCs and tablets in the form of convertibles—such as the Slate 21 AIO—and hybrids. One—Asus’ Transformer Book Trio—can be used as a desktop, notebook or tablet.

The Transformer Book Trio also can run either Android 4.2.2 or Windows 8, a capability unveiled this month by Samsung with its Ativ Q. The Ativ Q—one of several new systems introduced June 20 by Samsung—also can be used in four modes: a mainstream tablet; the up-and-back laptop mode seen in some Windows 8 convertibles; a hover mode, with the display sitting parallel with but above and slightly off-center from the keyboard; and stand mode, with the display's back to the keyboard.

At the Computex show earlier this month, Acer introduced its own 21.5-inch Android all-in-one, the N3-220. It uses a Tegra 3 chip.

Nvidia’s Tegra 4, which will be in HP’s Slate 21, offers significant improvements over the Tegra 3, according to Nvidia officials. The quad-core system-on-a-chip (SoC) comes with 72 of the company’s GeForce graphics cores, offering six times the GPU capabilities of the Tegra 3.

The CPU core is based on ARM’s Cortex-A15 design, which makes Web browsing 2.6 times faster and offers improved app performance, company officials said in January. It also uses up to 45 percent less power than the Tegra 3, thanks in part to Nvidia’s 4-Plus-1 energy-efficient architecture. Introduced last year in the Tegra 3, the architecture enables a fifth core to run workloads that require less processing power than what is offered in the other four cores.