Microsoft should be wary - HP is encroaching on one of the company's strongholds with its new Slate 21 Android PC. Instead of running Windows 8, the new PC runs Android Jellybean 4.2.2, the most recent version of Google's Android operating system. There isn't any Intel Inside of this machine, either, as it's all powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 4 chipset, one of the most powerful ARM chipsets currently available.
By going with a mobile-oriented chipset and OS, HP was able to create a super thin computer that, despite offering a 21.5-inch, 1920x1080 display, won't take up very much room on your desk.
It's a smart move by HP. Windows 8, the only other touch-optimized OS shipping on desktop or notebook PCs, has come under substantial criticism for launching with what feels like unfinished touch integration, as well as a woefully under-populated software store.
With Android, on the other hand, the Slate 21 has access to thousands of applications. While many won't look superb stretched up to such a size, many others, like top Android games, or Netflix, will look just fine. The company has also partnered with KingSoft to produce optimized versions of desktop office productivtity apps - so you won't need to worry about struggling with blown-up versions of mobile software just to type a report or create a spreadsheet.
It also comes with Splashtop 2 to let you remotely access any Windows PC on your network.
Thanks to Android's Jellybean updates, the Slate 21 supports multiple users with multiple personalizations. You'll be able to set up profiles for you and your significant other, as well as restricted settings for children or guests.
Despite carrying the Slate 21 name, it doesn't seem to be targeted toward use solely as a tablet device. It won't lay completely flat, instead letting you adjust the PC between 15 and 70 degrees with an easy push. On the back is a VESA mount so you could also simply hang it on the wall.
It does appear to ship with a wireless keyboard and mouse, though whether they're Bluetooth (it supports Bluetooth 3.0) or wireless USB devices isn't clear. You'll be able to store up to 8GB of data on the device, and extend that through cloud offerings, 3x USB 2.0 devices, and an SD card slot.
The company has also committed to an upgrade path, something they were really keen about when we spoke to them about their Android-powered notebook device this spring. They are "working with Google and NVIDIA on the release schedule of the next versions of Android."
HP expects to ship the Slate 21 this September, starting at $399.
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