- Review Date: 9/30/2013
- Bottom line: The HP Rove 20-K014us portable all-in-one desktop PC has both the innovations and problems that come with being a first-generation product in a nascent category.
- Pros: Portable around the house. Huge screen for a portable. Ultrabook performance in a tablet form factor. Wi-Di compatible. Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. Comes with Monopoly and other touch games.
- Cons: Limited ports. Uncomfortable wireless keyboard. Not full 1080p HD. Somewhat hefty. Lots of pre-loaded software.
The HP Rove 20-K014us ($979.99 list) is a portable all-in-one desktop PC. That means that it has a huge 20-inch screen and has some of the benefits of a desktop and some benefits of a portable tablet. It's meant to be carried around your home or office, rather than sit on a coach airline seat or in your lap during a train commute. It's not bad as an example of a first-generation product, but since it is a first-gen product and new category, you will have to put up with some shortcomings if you welcome the Rove 20-K014us into your digital life.
Design and Features
The Rove 20-K014us is one of the latest examples of portable all-in-one desktops. As such, it looks like a 20-inch portable tablet when it is laying flat on a table, but something interesting happens you push the magnetic release bar on the back. A single u-shaped metal arm unfolds from the back, so you can sit the Rove 20-K014us upright. This is a similar mechanism that we've seen on other portable all-in-one desktops like the Sony VAIO Tap 20 (SVJ20215CXW) ($999.99) and the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon ($1849). The arm is hinged, so you can use the Rove 20-K014us in a variety of angles, from horizontal to just shy of vertical. It measures about 12.75 by 20 by 1.31 inches (HWD), so it's a thinner than the VAIO Tap 20. The thin champion for portable all in ones is currently the Dell XPS 18 ($1,399), which is less than 0.75 inches thick. The Rove 20-K014us weighs in at 11.83 pounds, over double that of the svelte Dell XPS 18. Granted, the Rove 20-K014us 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 system 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-K014us. The system's LED backlit IPS screen measures 20-inches diagonally, but only has a 1,600-by-900 resolution rather than 1,920 by 1,080 (1080p 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 1080p HD screen. The XPS 18 and the Asus Transformer AIO (P1801-B037K) ($1,299) each have 1080p 18.4-inch touch screens, though the Asus P1801-B037K is really a full-size all-in-one desktop with a removable Android tablet as its screen rather than a self-contained portable all-in-one system like the rest.
The Rove 20-K014us 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'd need an adapter or a smart TV that already has WiDi built in.
Living with the Rove 20-K014us is a very similar experience to the Sony VAIO Tap 20, in that both are somewhat bulky portable desktops with Windows 8 and 10-point touch screens. The 20-inch 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 touch screen and turns the system into a large active game board. It's a similar experience to the one we had on the 27-inch 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 touch screen was easy, since the screen is so large. The included wireless keyboard and mouse were welcomed, even though the included keyboard is a bit prone to typing errors because of its very flat keys and vague key feel.
The Rove 20-K014us comes with quite a few pre-loaded apps including box (formerly box.net), Snapfish, Skype, Netflix, Classic Board Games, ebay, nquared makewords, Fingertapps Instruments, Jigswar, Fresh Paint, Adera Lite, Disney Fairies Lite, You Cam, HP Connected Music, Monopoly, an ad for Microsoft Office, HP Games, and Cozi Family Calendar. If you already use or plan to use these programs this is a convenience, otherwise you'll have to budget quite some time to remove them after you bring the system home. The Rove 20-K014us comes with a standard one-year warranty.
Among the portable all-in-one PCs, the Rove 20-K014us comes in as a moderate benchmark performer. This is no doubt due to its Intel Core 3 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. That said, the components in the Rove 20-K014us 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-K014us is certainly capable. Things are a little better on the battery front. The Rove 20-K014us lasts almost four hours (3:53) 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 on the Lenovo Horizon. The Dell XPS 18 lasted almost an hour little longer at 4:48. Essentially, if you like the styling of the Rove 20-K014us and the Sony Tap 20, go for the Rove 20-K014us, as it will last a lot longer under battery power.
It's still too early to call an Editors' Choice winner for the portable all-in-one desktop PC segment, but for now the Dell XPS 18 has the best balance of portability and usability. The HP Rove 20-K014us is a close second or third place at this time, since it is a bit bulkier and slower than the XPS18. That said, we recommend the Rove 20-K014us over the Sony VAIO Tap 20 that is likely to be going on closeout, 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-K014us is a pioneering choice and worth a look.