HP Rove 20 review

HP Rove 20

Convertible devices that can function as both a tablet and a laptop are all the rage at the moment – or at least that's what Intel and Microsoft keep telling us. Tablets and laptops are all about mobility, of course, so these convertible devices tend to only be around 10-12 inches in size. (See all Windows tablet reviews.)

However, a few manufacturers have been experimenting with another type of convertible device – larger tablets that can also be used as a desktop PC, and HP's new Rove is the latest addition to this fledgling category of ‘mega tablets'.

When you take it out of the box for the first time, the Rove simply looks like a very large tablet. It has a 20-inch touch-sensitive screen, and includes Windows 8 running on a 1.7GHz Haswell i3 processor, 4GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive. That's the only configuration available at the moment, and costs £899.00.

The Rove weighs a full 5.4Kg, so it's obviously too big and heavy to hold like a conventional tablet. However, there's a stand that folds out of the back of the unit, allowing you to prop it up on a desk or table. The screen only has 1600x900 resolution, which is a little disappointing, but its IPS panel is bright and colourful and works very well for web browsing, watching video and playing games.

The size of the Rove also allows it to squeeze in a decent set of speakers too, with respectable bass output and enough volume to listen to a few tunes or music videos on YouTube. And while I'm still not convinced that touch-screens make any sense for laptops, a touch-screen of this size is much more practical because it's far easier to tap and select items with your fingers. Even when you're using the traditional Windows desktop you can still tap on icons and launch and control programs quite comfortably. A key issue for me was that I found it quite easy to control Internet Explorer this way, clicking links and navigating with no trouble at all.

Typing with the large on-screen keyboard is quite easy too, although HP does include a wireless keyboard and mouse with the Rove as well. This means that you can use the Rove like a conventional desktop PC when you're working with Microsoft Word or other productivity apps, or if the kids need to work on a school report. The Rove also includes three USB 3.0 ports, for connecting a printer and other periphals, and although there's no Ethernet interface HP does provide a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor for wired connections.

The i3 processor doesn't provide particularly high-performance, but the 5400rpm hard drive includes an 8GB solid-state module that adds a little zip to overall performance and produces a score of 3255 when running PCMark 7. It'll certainly handle Microsoft Office easily enough, and should also be able to handle a spot of photo- or video-editing as well. And, of course, that large hard disk provides plenty of room for storing all your music, video and photos.

Gaming performance isn't up to much, though. The integrated HD 4400 graphics could only manage 18fps when running Stalker: Call of Pripyat at 1600x900 resolution, and 23.5fps at 1280x720, so gaming action will mostly be restricted to 2D family fare such as Angry Birds.

You're obviously not going to slip the Rove into your backpack when you go away for the weekend, but it's still light enough to carry quite easily from room to room. You could use it with the keyboard and mouse on a desk when you need to do some work, and then just pick it up and carry it into the bedroom to watch a late-night film.

The large screen needs a fair bit of battery power, and the Rove could only manage 3.5 hours (210 minutes) when streaming video off the BBC iPlayer. However, that's more than enough to watch a film in the evening, and the chances are that the Rove is never going to be that far from a mains socket at home.

HP Rove 20: Specs

  • Specification: 1.7GHz Intel Core i3-4010U
  • Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB HDD (5400rpm) + 8GB solid-state cache
  • 20.0-inch IPS with 1600x900 resolution
  • Intel HD 4400
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Intel WiDi
  • 3x USB 3.0
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC
  • 720p webcam with built-in mic
  • headphone socket
  • 50Wh Lithium-Ion battery
  • 321x506x25mm
  • 5.4Kg
  • Specification: 1.7GHz Intel Core i3-4010U
  • Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB HDD (5400rpm) + 8GB solid-state cache
  • 20.0-inch IPS with 1600x900 resolution
  • Intel HD 4400
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Intel WiDi
  • 3x USB 3.0
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC
  • 720p webcam with built-in mic
  • headphone socket
  • 50Wh Lithium-Ion battery
  • 321x506x25mm
  • 5.4Kg

OUR VERDICT

It's a shame that the Rove is currently only available with an i3 processor, as it's probably not powerful enough to use as your main home PC. However, it will work really well as a second PC that acts as a kind of entertainment terminal that you can share with all the family.

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