Channel 5

HP Slate 21

Thursday 12 December 2013


Rating of 2

The basics

Meet the HP Slate 21, a massive 21-inch, all-in-one desktop that brings Android to the big screen. We took the huge touchscreen hybrid for a spin to see if it can really replace your computer, or find a place on your kitchen counter. Read on to find out what we made of it in our full review.

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The good

At first glance, you probably wouldn’t notice this is powered by Android. The HP Slate 21 looks just like a desktop, with its 21-inch, 1080p IPS panel touchscreen, but it runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. The screen is brilliantly bright, with superb viewing angles, plus you can tilt it at various angles you want too, using the kickstand. It's easy to use while standing on a table top or as a smart TV of sorts viewed flat from the other side of the room.

The machine looks great, a solid slab of white glossy plastic with a silver trim and sturdy build quality. There’s a bevy of ports on the rear, including power, two USB sockets and an ethernet connection. On the side you’ll find the SD card slot, headphone jack and another USB port.

A front-facing 720p camera is ideal for video chats and Skype calls, while underneath is a wide speaker grill which gives off surprisingly decent DTS sound. The Slate is powered by a speedy Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core processor, which means browsing through Android is a snap and games run very well, too. HP has made hardly any changes from the stock Android experience, so the device boots up and wakes up quickly. If there's space in yours, we could see this working well in the kitchen, providing just enough computing power to pull off quick web searches, play YouTube videos and browse recipes.

The bad

Unfortunately, the negatives seriously outweigh the positives. The HP Slate 21 only packs 8GB of storage, which isn’t much for a desktop, though HP has softened the blow with 25GB of free cloud storage from Box. You can add more storage with an SD card or an external hard drive, but you really shouldn’t have to.

And while HP has armed the Slate with a speedy Tegra 4 processor, it’s paired up with a paltry 1GB of RAM, which means multitasking is a tedious affair. You’ll often find yourself frustrated with the Slate as you try to go from app to app. Oddly enough, HP has picked a processor that has excellent power management, but it doesn’t need it, as the Slate’s always hooked up to the mains, which makes us think HP could have added something beefier under the hood.

While its size and screen resolution are perfect for entertainment, you can forget about motion-based games, as there’s no accelerometer onboard. Even if there was, it’s too heavy to wave around: trying to play a round of Angry Birds Go! with tilt controls would be laughable. On top of that, its touchscreen is laggy, making precision-based games a tough endeavour. Playing Cut The Rope was painful, and we even found ourselves pressing the wrong hyperlink when web browsing - that or the screen didn’t register a tap at all. You can also forget about tapping buttons near the edges of the screen, as the bezels get in the way more often than not. As it’s a scaled-up tablet, you’re delivered websites that are optimised for mobiles by default, which makes web browsing frustrating, especially as there’s so much screen real estate to play with. You can choose to view full versions of websites, but you really shouldn’t have to.

The HP Slate 21 doesn’t come with its own keyboard and mouse either, so you’ll have to supply your own if you don’t want to be stuck with the touchscreen. And using external peripherals is a challenge in itself. Each app handles additional inputs differently, so you might find yourself tapping the screen more often than not. To make matters worse, you can't just use this as a budget monitor - no HDMI-in means you can't hook up a Now TV Box or Mac Mini to it either.

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The bottom line

HP’s attempt at an over-sized Android device that acts as a PC is full of faults. The bottom line is it just doesn’t work that well, but at least it's fairly inexpensive at £329. The 1080p display looks great, but to actually use, it’s just frustrating. Overall, it’s a valiant and interesting effort from HP, but it’s one that falls very short indeed.

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HP Slate 21 is tagged with HP, HP Slate 21, Android and all-in-one. Select a tag (HP, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

User comments (5)

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Mark Robinson

What world are you living in? i know you review high end Gadgets but in these Harsh times of Austerity and little wage increases in the last five years this is not inexpensive. Some times the Gadget Show is too Snobby for it's own good. Seriously flawed product too.

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Murat Erbakar

It is wonderfull i think. I bought one. Best price is here:

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I have two now! and it does come with a keyboard and a mouse, also didnt really notice the lag issues you state - perhaps the android updates fixed this? for less than £200 this is a fantastic bit of kit - comes with office, connects to a printer, plays BBC iPlayer etc - what more can you want? brilliant value - and if you really want to use windows, you can remote desktop to a windows PC from it. I don think it was designed to play motion games, it was just a lower price version of the windows based touch screen PCs that HP sell

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