back to article HP’s ENORMO-SLAB: The Slate 21 MONSTER tablet

Hewlett-Packard’s first attempt at an Android tablet, the Slate 7, was a cheap, wretched and irredeemably awful device. So when I heard that the Palm killer’s follow-up fondleslab was to be a 21-inch affair, my reaction was one of incredulity mixed with foreboding. HP Slate 21 Your new desktop? HP’s Android-based Slate 21 …

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  1. Piro

    Not bad

    Actually pretty nifty. Wall mountable for use in the kitchen, run your recipes off it, a little Netflix, check the weather. Not a bad gadget for the price.

  2. Spiracle

    Kitchen niche

    The optical tracking/wooden spoon trick would be its most useful feature in our house.

  3. Carl Fletcher

    £329, according to HP's site.

    1. Pookietoo
      Facepalm

      Re: £329, according to HP's site.

      Amazingly that's what The Register says too.

  4. 1Rafayal

    Touch Screen Monitor?

    Can you use this as a touch screen monitor for Windows 8, like the ViewSonic VSD220 that the Reg reviewed here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/15/review_viewsonic_vsd220_aio_smart_display/ ?

    1. thesykes

      Re: Touch Screen Monitor?

      Saw one of the Viewsonics in a museum in the summer, not as an exhibit, but, as a video player. It was mounted next to a display and had a host of videos loaded, explaining different things about what was on display. Worked very well. No instructions needed, just a screen full of thumbnail videos, so you easily see what it was about and a prod with a finger was all that was needed to get them playing.

  5. Ralph B

    More is not enough!

    They should add a row of thermionic valves (vacuum tubes to USians) on the back. Then we'd all buy it.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: More is not enough!

      None of your new-fangled pentodes, sir! We want triodes, and bright emitter ones at that!

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: More is not enough!

        Only if they use thoriated tungsten heaters for improved electron emission

  6. JDX Gold badge

    Interesting

    Sounds rather well executed, and I'm very impressed indeed with the price.

  7. Andy Baird

    How is this a tablet?

    It has no battery. It can't be used handheld. So what justifies the "tablet" monicker? If you had called it a "good inexpensive all-in-one computer," I'd have no beef. But this device is no more a tablet than my 27" iMac.

    1. 1Rafayal

      Re: How is this a tablet?

      I think the author pretty much answers your question in the article, if you read the following paragraph:

      "I’ve read some criticism in the US press - hacks across the pond got their grubby mitts on the Slate 21 well ahead of us scribblers in Blighty - of the Slate 21 for lacking an accelerometer or a GPS chip but frankly that’s daft. The 21 is so clearly not intended to be portable or held in your hands that stripping it of two bits of functionality that are wholly aimed at handheld devices seems a reasonable course for HP to have taken to keep the price down."

      1. Alan_Peery

        Re: How is this a tablet?

        The lack of GPS chip and accelerometer are additional reasons why it shouldn't be called a tablet. It's an inexpensive Android AIO touchscren PC...

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: How is this a tablet?

          What has GPS/accelerometer got to do with it being a tablet or not?

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: How is this a tablet?

      It's a touchscreen and as far as I can see, out of the box it's just a touchscreen - and Google speech recognition, probably. You can put on a keyboard and mouse but they aren't included. Hence, apparently, it's an "Enormo-Slab". Or, if you use it for telephony, a "Phlablet".

      Can you put GPS on it with a USB GPS accessory? Just speculating. Probably not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How is this a tablet?

        Probably use one of those Bluetooth GPS modules … there'd be software that'd be able to talk to it.

      2. toxicdragon

        Re: How is this a tablet?

        "Enormo-Slab ... Phlablet".

        I prefer the all in one moniker "Fondleslab"

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Fondleslab?

          At this sort of size it is not just a fondle, more of an orgyslab...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How is this a tablet?

      It has no battery. It can't be used handheld.

      Nor does my Wacom Intuos4, yet everything and everyone seems to call it a tablet.

  8. Ted Treen
    Mushroom

    criticism in the US press... of the Slate 21 for lacking an accelerometer or a GPS chip but frankly that’s daft

    Not at all, old lad.

    Fit an accelerometer to it, and if it's sensitive enough, the Slate 21 will give you advance warning when you and your house are about to slide into the Pacific or the abyss.

    They could even charge a premium for the "Slate 21 - San Andreas model"

  9. Richard Wharram

    No GPS?

    Then no sale. This would be perfect for a satnav. Imagine attaching it to your windscreen. Who needs an outside view when the satnav is telling you what to do?

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: No GPS?

      I'm assuming you're joking, but combining with the view from a rear mounted camera, you could overlay the GPS directions on the view from the camera.

      I'm not sure why that would be useful, but I'd like to see it.

    2. Ralph B

      Re: No GPS?

      Can I suggest hanging an iPad Mini off the bill of your baseball cap?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No GPS?

        "Can I suggest hanging an iPad Mini off the bill of your baseball cap?"

        Wouldn't work, he wears ir with bill to the back of the head

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No GPS?

      a bird is cheaper and immeasurably more useful.

    4. Montreal Sean

      Re: No GPS?

      For satnav you really need a Surface tablet.

      "Where do you want to go today?"

  10. magickmark
    Thumb Up

    I want one

    Awsome, I'd love one of these as a second "TV" in my bedroom. Add TV Catchup, BBC iPlayer, Netflix would be perfect for this, let alone all the other normal Android stuff you could use it for. All for the price a normal TV.

    1. Steve Loughran

      Re: I want one

      Good point; can only be better than a smart TV "send all your data for adverts", and with a roku box at 99 pounds, a 21' tablet isn't too bad. iplayer, youtube, netflix, google hangouts,

      In fact, a 37" version could be really impressive. While HP's record in hardware is a bit patchy at times, at least they are more experienced than TV vendors at building things with ethernet ports

  11. hammarbtyp

    great idea

    and best of all no windows Tax.

    MS should be worried, very worried

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: great idea

      I hate to tell you this hammarbtyp, but there will be a M$ tax in there.

      It's got a SD card slot, which means a FAT file system, which means M$ licencing...

      Sorry!

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: great idea

        FAT isn't mandatory. F2FS is better

    2. Norman Hartnell

      Re: great idea

      If it's running Android, won't MS still get money from it?

  12. Faye B

    Add Ons?

    I am guessing that you could use the USB ports at the back to attach a keyboard and mouse, so it could be a desktop replacement too.

  13. Tachikoma

    I was thinking about a device like this the other day and was pondering just how functional Android would be as a desktop OS. From a quick perusal of the app store, yes, you can get pretty much every generic home/small office requirement covered. Obviously hardcore CAD/Video Editors would require something a lot more powerful with more storage, but the idea still holds true, as hammarbtyp said above, could we eventually see the end of Windows on the desktop?

    I think Google are missing a trick not releasing a £200 device like the Chromebook but running Android with a 500GB hard drive. I know of the transformer tablets and bluetooth keyboard/case options for regular tablets, but Google could easily release the Chromebook chassis with Android for less than Acer & Co equivalent tablets with optional keyboards and dominate the cheap laptop market.

    1. handle

      Google knows what it is doing

      Google won't release a Chromebook with a 500GB drive - the Google business model is built on targeting advertising at you by mining your data, so it ensures it gets its grubby mitts on it by preventing you storing it locally. Proprietary OSs don't come cheap you know.

      1. timrichardson

        Re: Google knows what it is doing

        Chrome is basically linux so it does come cheap. That is in effect Microsoft's problem: the OS has become commoditised, there is no added value. Windows desktop lives on because it is the gateway to the best applications ecosystem, but when that doesn't apply, there's no point in paying for it. Of course, there is highly valuable IP in all the years of Microsoft OS R&D: that's why it gets about $5 per Android device in licence fees for a few years until those patents expire.

        As for rotating disks: There are chromebooks with disks, but SSD performance is vastly superior. I think that's the main reason SSD chromebooks have taken over. Low-end Windows laptops avoid SSD for price reasons, not because magnetic disks are better. Chromebooks basically put the savings from avoiding a Windows licence into better hardware, assuming you regard a small SSD as better than a 300GB magnetic disk.

        1. handle

          Re: Google knows what it is doing

          No, Chrome is not "basically Linux" - there's an awful lot more to an operating system than a kernel. But even if you want to dismiss the rest of the OS, the kernel itself is not free to Google because it has spent money contributing to it - akin to the Microsoft R&D of which you speak. It's not a charity, so how do you think it recoups its investment? Either by advertising or by selling cloud services.

  14. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    For domestic use?

    HP?

    wouldn't kit like this be more suited to a local server with units acting as tills or info systems in supermarkets, banks, SMEs, colleges, universities, schools, ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      The company I work for do a lot of energy management systems for various organisations, some of whom decide they want a screen in their foyer to show off how green they are.

      We've got a demo of such a unit running at our office, it's basically a standard monitor with a Zotac PC bolted to the back of it on a VESA mount, running Ubuntu 12.04 and a front-end using the Unity3D games engine and MVX talking to a MacroView SCADA server back-end.

      For one of the clients, we did similar, but the display system instead ran Windows 7 and the PecStar client.

      Both the PecStar Client and Unity3D are available on Android.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    350 squid, lol

    for a 21 inch screen?

    oh, I see, you can lift your ass from the sofa and stroke it? Uhm... for this money I guess I can get a bigger screen, better computer AND I don't have to move my ass at all :)

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: 350 squid, lol

      Not sure it would be that easy. From what I've heard of this screen you'd need to spend 150 to equal it, and 20 to get reasonable speakers. That leaves you 159 for your (presumably linux) PC.

      Even if you could beat it, you'd end up with the standard ugly box, kb, mouse and screen. I think HP have hit a real sweet spot with this price.

    2. NumptyScrub

      Re: 350 squid, lol

      quote: "Uhm... for this money I guess I can get a bigger screen, better computer AND I don't have to move my ass at all :)"

      Good luck with that, the last mini-PC I bought was £190 without a harddisk or operating system, if you also add a monitor and wireless peripherals in (the not-moving-your-ass part I assume) I struggle to see how you can have change from tree fiddy while keeping a 21"+ sized display. If you have a specific product in mind I am genuinely interested in hearing about it, because I'm considering getting a second as another HTPC :)

  16. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    VESA mount

    Is it a sign of old age that when reading VESA I first think of their out-of-date but mighty Local Bus?

  17. keithpeter Silver badge

    Optical sensing

    "The touchscreen is an optical affair. Three cameras keep track of where and how you tap, stroke or fondle it. "

    I take it the 5mm clearance mentioned in the article means that the glass front protects the rim of the display from dust?

    There is a make of interactive whiteboard that uses optical sensing (not actual cameras, sort of a pattern of reflections) so that you can operate it with your fingers while still using basically a bit of chipboard as the back. We had to dust the rim regularly to keep it working.

    As others have said: information kiosks and information display. VESA mount and all.

  18. msage

    Slate 21 Owner

    I read this review with interest! Every other review I have read just didn't get the device at all... which is a shame.

    I bought one of these when they were first released, I have wanted a tablet for my kitchen for a long time.

    I use this system in my kitchen and the only limitations I have found are with the software in the play store, for example, some do not pick up the Ethernet connection as a network connection. I hope HP release Kitkat to this device as I feel it will really help the 1Gb of RAM they chose to put in it! I would love to see a "hacker" community built round this device. I use an elgato EyeTv with my slate 21 and this makes it an excellent digital TV, with the recipes and web browsing and a few quality games this is the tablet to own!

    Worms the 1990s hit is amazing on this device and thoroughly good family fun.

    I am toying with getting a "controller" for this device, any recommendations?

    1. Mikel

      Re: Slate 21 Owner

      If you are looking for a micro keyboard / airmouse combo I like this one.

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AIHYHJA

      Only because you asked.

      1. msage

        Re: Slate 21 Owner

        Thanks for the link, I already have a 'tooth keyboard that works brilliantly, I was thinking more along the lines of a game pad type controller. The one mentioned in the article appears not to be available in the UK at the moment and some others seem excessively expensive!

  19. Robert E A Harvey

    impressed

    Ok, 1080 lines isn't much, but its a fair price & nice to see wired Ethernet..

    I might buy it.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: impressed

      True, 1080 is not that much, but:

      (A) This is a £340-ish thing, not a near £1k ultrabook with piss-poor 900 lines.

      (B) There is very little above 1080, some monitors have 1200/1440/1600 but cost £300/500/1000 sort of price for the monitor alone.

      Overall I am impressed by this and can see it suiting a range of folk for basic computing needs, particularly for the likes of my elderly parents for whom even a 15" wide screen laptop display is simply too small, and for whom paying >£1k for a 17" laptop is just not on.

  20. Dazed and Confused

    Oh bugger

    No battery

    I was about to go buy one. It seemed just the device I needed. I'm about to move all the main computers out to a garden office which leaves me needing something I can use in the house and I'd rather have a larger screen. Sometimes the 10" of a regular tablet just isn't enough.

  21. Al Taylor

    Price

    As the eagle-eyed have already noticed, between me writing this review and it going up (about 36 hours) HP has dropped the UK price by £20.

  22. corestore

    Everything is converging

    Is this a tablet??

    Or a touchscreen TV powered by Android?

    Is it a distinction without a difference nowadays?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Aldi tried to clone an iMac...

    ...it would look something like this.

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: If Aldi tried to clone an iMac...

      I guess that was meant as an insult, would that be right?

      Or are you working along the lines that Aldi's clones of more fashionable brands are often preferred by consumers despite being cheaper?

  24. Michael Habel Silver badge

    10/100Mbps Ethernet socket,

    NO SALE! If they expect me to want to use this thing as a Media Center Desktop Replacement then I want... No demand nothing less then GigE speeds...

    1. handle

      Re: 10/100Mbps Ethernet socket,

      Good thing they don't care about your peculiar requirements then.

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: 10/100Mbps Ethernet socket,

      If the rest of your network is GigE then you will be fine using this as an endpoint for media viewing. My raspberry pi is only 10/100 and it can stream very heavy full HD movies just fine.

  25. WillbeIT
    Holmes

    pfffft. ... Man U fan eh

  26. druck Silver badge
    Meh

    Why no TV tuner?

    It's the size of a TV, so why no TV tuner?

  27. Big_Ted

    Just so you know....

    On Dec 1st at 5pm a voucher code starts for 15% off site wide (max £2000 spend).

    The code is HP15OFF , thats another £49.85 off so now unit is going to be £279.15

    Now thats a tempting price....

    I might just bite at that myself.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But Android is as aweful as iOS to use.

    Walled Garden or Spied on? The choice is yours.

    I'll stick with a windows all in one thanks! At least it's business ready and does everything my home PC needs to do, and it looks good. Of course the obvious benefit is that I don't have the "what a p*ick" tag that macs have or the "you're a total mug" tag of android.

    1. Montreal Sean

      @AC at 13:15

      Yes, Android and IOS can inspire awe during use.

      Oh wait, you meant it's unpleasant to use? Well, that would be "awful" then.

      Sound similar, means two different things though.

      </grammar nazi>

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The only way to be sure you're not being spied upon is to just buy bare hardware and code the OS and applications yourself.

      Obviously this is not practical for 99.999% of people, so you roll the dice and take your chances.

  29. Sulphur Man

    HP might be onto something with this, as many comments above have speculated on it replacing a kitchen or bedroom TV. It's not a TV, but if HP decide to add a DVB-T2 tuner I'll be first in line.

    For me, the 'Smart' TV revolution has been distinctly underwhelming - taking a TV and augmenting it with some crude and laggy walled garden functionality. This is better, build a large touchscreen tablet first, then add the TV functionality on top

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