The Desktop that Moves a Class
Is HP’s Envy Rove 20 Mobile All-in-One Desktop PC an incredibly large tablet or a battery-powered desktop PC that can go from table to table or room to room as needed? Actually, it’s a hybrid desktop that provides the best of both worlds and makes for a flexible way to compute and teach.
Its 20-inch screen is the equivalent of four iPad displays and more than enough display screen space for working with a mid-sized group of students, but smaller than the 27-inch display on Lenovo’s Horizon 27. It’ll probably be too small for a full class though, but more than makes up for that by being so portable that it can go from room to room as needed.
It delivers 1,600 by 900 resolution, which is off the pace set by the Horizon’s larger full HD display. The system has Intel’s latest HD 4400 Graphics and the ability to respond to 10 independent fingers. It worked well with a variety of two-finger gestures and a Wacom Bamboo stylus. I particularly like that the Rove 20’s design has a flush screen, which makes working with the screen at its corners to pull out the software’s menus easier.
The Rove 20 really comes into its own with its fold-down stand. It can be stowed in the back and set up horizontally on a tabletop so that teachers and kids can work above the touch-screen. Press the lock release and pull out the dull-silver stand to set the screen to anything up to 75-degrees. As is the case with other hybrids, it can’t sit fully vertical. At any angle, the system is secure and solid with only a slight wobble when it is touched or tapped. It lacks a handle, though, for carrying it around.
It will be missed because at 11.6-pounds it’s a lot for a small student or teacher to lug from an art room to an English classroom for deconstructing sentences. My advice is to have a cart on hand because HP has no equivalent of Lenovo’s adjustable stand for its Horizon hybrid.
At 12.6 by 19.9- by 1.4-inches, the Rove 20 is slightly smaller than Sony’s Tap 20 and fits on the typical school desk or lab table with room to spare for papers and books. Unfortunately, the system requires a three-prong plug. This might be a problem when it comes to using the Rove 20 in odd repurposed places that might not have up-to-date electrical outlets.
It’s a good thing that the Rove 20, like the other hybrids on the market, has a built-in three-cell battery. On the downside, you can’t easily change the battery or mount the system on a wall.
Around its silver edging is an adequate array of ports, including three USB connections (one of which remains powered when the system is turned off), audio and an SD card slot. The system also has 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth for wireless connections.
Like other hybrids it lacks the ability to plug it into a larger monitor or projector but the Rove 20 can use Intel’s WiDi wireless video system. You’ll need to make sure that both the computer and the Rove have the latest software or the it may not work.
On the downside, the system lacks a built-in wired LAN outlet. It does include a USB-to-LAN converter that worked fine. Unfortunately, it is likely to be the first thing to get lost.
Above the screen is a 1,280 by 800 Web cam as well as a dual-microphone array that can cancel out some background classroom noise for quieter video conferences, video journals or even documenting a classroom activity. The system comes with a matching keyboard and mouse and has speakers that sound good and can get surprisingly loud.
Inside the Rove 20 is an up-to-date PC with a fourth-generation Intel Core i3 4010U processor that runs at 1.7GHz and comes with 4GB of RAM. It lacks Intel’s TurboBoost technology that can automatically increase its speed as needed, but the system comes with a 1TB hard drive. Like its hybrid peers, the Rove 20 does without an optical drive.
It all adds up to a superior performer that scored a 1,230 on Passmark’s PerformanceTest 8 benchmark tests. That’s slightly behind the Tap 20, which had a more expensive and power hungry Core i5 processor and roughly equivalent to today’s mid-range desktops and notebooks.
The system worked well with no lag for doing everything from finger-painting with an art program to working with the University of Colorado’s PHET science and math simulations. Its three-cell battery has a capacity of 4,000 milliamp hours and can run on a charge for 2 hours and 47 minutes. That’s nearly an hour longer than the comparable Tap 20 system. In other words it is versatile enough to be used in a classroom plugged in for a math lesson then unplugged and used by a group of kids to make a collage with their fingers for an hour and then set up for an individual penmanship lesson.
When the system’s battery is charging, it uses only 28.5 watts of power, which is on a par with a notebook and can save a lot of money over its life compared to a full desktop PC. The system comes with a one-year warranty that can be upped to three-years of coverage for $250. It includes the expected Norton Internet Security program with two months of virus updates, but the bonus of 50GB of free online storage space through Box that never expires.
At $979, the Rove 20 is on a par with the Tap 20 and can make teaching in odd places easier. In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter whether you call the Rove 20 a large tablet or portable desktop; what matters is that is can add lots of flexibility to the way kids are taught. It may not be for every classroom, but every school should have at least one Rove 20.
+ Excellent design
+ 50GB of online storage
- Lacks handle
- No external display