The HP Rove 20 is a portable all-in-one desktop PC, which means that it boasts a huge 20in screen and has some of the benefits of a desktop, and some of the benefits of a portable tablet. It's meant to be carried around your home or office, rather than being sat in your lap during a train commute, and it's not bad as an example of a first-generation product. However, since it is a first-gen product and a new category, you will have to put up with some shortcomings if you welcome the Rove 20 into your digital life.
The Rove 20 (which retails at £899) is one of the latest examples of portable all-in-one desktops. As such, it looks like a 20in portable tablet when it is lying flat on a table, but something interesting happens when you push the magnetic release bar on the back. Namely, a single U-shaped metal arm unfolds from the back, so you can sit the Rove 20 upright.
This is a similar mechanism that we've seen on other portable all-in-one desktops like the Sony Vaio Tap 20 and the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon. The arm is hinged, so you can use the Rove 20 at a variety of angles, from horizontal to just shy of vertical.
The Rove measures about 505 x 65 x 320mm (WxDxH), so it's thinner than the Vaio Tap 20. The thin champion for portable all-in-ones is currently the Dell XPS 18, which is 17mm thick. The Rove 20 weighs in at 5.4kg, over double the weight of the svelte Dell XPS 18. However, it should be noted that the Rove 20 and the Sony Tap 20 both have adjustable metal stands on their back panels, while the XPS 18 makes do with lighter duty plastic fold out feet.
Since the system has all that space inside, HP saw fit to configure the Rove 20 with an Ultrabook-class 4th-generation Intel Core i3-4010U processor, 4GB of system memory (with an option of 16GB max), and a 1TB 5,400rpm SATA hard drive. 1TB is a good size for the various video files you'd be tempted to load up on the Rove 20.
The system's LED backlit IPS screen measures 20in diagonally, but only has a 1,600 x 900 resolution rather than 1,920 x 1,080 (full HD). This shouldn't be a problem while watching most videos, but you will be able to see more information on most web pages, and more windows while multitasking on a full HD screen such as the Dell XPS 18’s 18.4in display.
The Rove 20 comes with three USB 3.0 ports, a headset jack, and that's about it. It lacks the SD card reader you'd find on most all-in-one desktops, and it lacks the HDMI port you'd find on most portables. All is not lost, since the system supports WiDi, but that still means you'll need an adapter or a smart TV that already has WiDi built in.
Living with the Rove 20 is a very similar experience to the Sony Tap 20, in that both are somewhat bulky portable desktops with Windows 8 and 10-point touchscreens. The 20in display means that it is perfectly suitable for two people to share, particularly when the system is lying on a table horizontally. To this end, HP included a copy of Monopoly that leverages the touchscreen and turns the system into a large active game board. It's a similar experience to the 27in Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon, just on a smaller screen. The HP doesn't have an overlay like the Aura interface on the IdeaCentre Horizon, but we found we didn't miss it too much.
Typing on the touchscreen was easy, since the screen is so large. The included wireless keyboard and mouse were welcome, even though the keyboard is a bit prone to typing errors because of its very flat keys and rather vague typing action.
The Rove 20 comes with a standard one year warranty.
Among the portable all-in-one PCs, the Rove 20 comes in as a moderate benchmark performer. This is no doubt due to its Intel Core i3 processor, which has a lower performance ceiling on multimedia benchmark tests than the Core i5 and Core i7 processors found in the other all-in-one desktops we’ve reviewed. That said, the components in the Rove 20 are perfectly fine for the sort of family social media and shared entertainment that the system was built for. Sure, you would rather have a faster PC for photo editing purposes, but the Rove 20 is certainly capable.
Things are a little better on the battery front. The Rove 20 lasted almost four hours (3 hours and 53 minutes) on our battery rundown test, which is more than enough for a movie watching session or even four hour-long TV shows. This is a lot better than the less than two hour runtime of the Sony Tap 20 and the sub-three hour runtime of the Lenovo Horizon. However, the Dell XPS 18 lasted almost an hour longer at 4 hours and 48 minutes. Essentially, if you like the styling of the Rove 20 and the Sony Tap 20, go for the Rove 20, as it will last a lot longer under battery power.
For the time being, the XPS 18 remains our favourite portable all-in-one, as Dell’s offering has the best balance of portability and usability. The HP Rove 20 gives the Dell machine a decent run for its money, though, but the Rove is a bit bulkier and slower than the XPS 18.
That said, we recommend the Rove 20 over the Sony Vaio Tap 20 which is likely to be flogged off now that the Sony Vaio Tap 21 has been announced. We'll see how it goes, and see if the public accepts the portable all-in-one desktop PC concept. If you're curious now, the HP Rove 20 is a pioneering choice and worth a look.
Manufacturer and Model
HP Envy Rove 20 Mobile All-in-One
Intel Core i3
Intel HD Graphics 4400
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
Microsoft Windows 8