HP Slate 21 — Android invades Microsoft territory

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Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! Only days after selling my Nexus 7 and preparing for a life without tablets, HP pulls me back by announcing the Slate 21. The HP Slate 21 is a tablet masquerading as a desktop — a 21.5-inch touchscreen tablet with kickstand, keyboard and mouse. This unique all-in-one form factor has me very intrigued. However, this is not the first time we have seen Android being used in an original way. Just last week, Samsung announced the convertible franken-tablet ATIV Q.

While the Samsung ATIV Q is designed to merge Android and Windows, the HP Slate 21 is designed to put a dagger into the back of Windows. Make no mistake, this is a huge blow for Microsoft. While this isn’t HP’s first Android device, the Slate 21 is its first to directly compete with Microsoft on the desktop. Since HP is a close Microsoft partner, it will be interesting to see how their relationship will be affected.

The Slate 21 will run on the quad-core nVidia Tegra 4 platform. This is a great foundation that will offer exceptional performance, especially for gaming. However, the large size may limit its usefulness for that — try steering an in-game car by holding and maneuvering a 21.5-inch screen. With that said, HP hasn’t announced if the device will even have an accelerometer.

Gaming aside, this device should be a productivity dynamo. While the Slate 21 will come preloaded with KingSoft Office, Android offers a plethora of other office options, many of which are free. Not to mention, if the user is an existing Android user, all of their purchased apps will be available on the Slate 21 at no additional charge — a truly killer feature. In addition, Splashtop2 HD will be pre-installed, allowing the user to remotely access and control their Windows or Mac computers.

Since it will be running Android 4.2.2 it will also support multiple users — up to 5 to be exact. This is a necessity for it to be useful as a family computer. This will allow the kid’s homework and games to be kept separate from Mom and Dad’s business documents and browsing history. It will also have 3 USB 2.0 ports to support the family’s collection of flash drives and USB hard drives.

The device lacks a battery so the user will be tethered to a wall-socket. However, sometimes less is more — the lack of a battery cements HP’s intention to sell it as an all-in-one computer. If it did have a battery, it would likely be stigmatized as just a giant tablet.

While some may critique the Slate 21 as a gimmick, I proclaim it as genius. Starting at just $399, this will be the best “bang for your buck” computer for families, professionals and power-users alike. It is scheduled to be released in September — will you be buying it?

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