With HP’s Slate 21 Pro, it’s clear that Android computers aren’t just for phones and tablets anymore. In fact, with a bigger screen, keyboard and mouse, the software really shines on the desk, whether it’s for general Web work and research or use in specific classroom situations.
A case in point is AOC’s A2272PW4T, an inexpensive all-in-one computer that rather than Windows or Macintosh software relies on Android 4.2 software. This is truly a different sort of classroom computer, which I realized as soon as I opened the box. Printed on the inside flap was not only helpful instructions on how to remove and set up the device, but a connection diagram and a run down on how to tilt the screen. It’s a big step forward that can help get the system out of the box and set up quicker. I hope that others imitate it.
Like the Slate 21 Pro, the A2272 system is big. It occupies 23.5 by 3.4-inches of desktop space and is 15-inches tall. It should just about fit on a standard student desk, but can be used in a computer lab, on a library table or at a public kiosk. The system has standard VESA mounting holes on the back so it can be used with a bracket or set on a wall.
To do this would miss out on one of the A2272’s best qualities. It has an easel leg that allows the screen to be adjusted to between 15- and 60-degrees, but – as is the case with the Slate 21 Pro – neither full vertical nor horizontal orientation. It is stable and secure and doesn’t wobble when tapped.
And, expect that the system will be tapped and touched a lot. Its 21.5-inch screen can show 1,920 by 1,080 full HD resolution and is touch sensitive. On the downside, the display is deeply recessed and it can respond to only two inputs at a time. This makes it better for individual work than for group collaboration.
While the A2272 has physical buttons for turning it on and off, optimizing the picture, adjusting the volume and switching between using the system as an Android computer and a monitor, it lacks dedicated buttons for Android’s main functions. These are set up on the bottom of the screen in the left corner and take a little time to get used to. The system offers something others don’t: a screenshot button for turning what’s on-screen into an image file.
Inside is an Nvidia Tegra T33 quad-core processor that can run at 1.6GHz, which is slightly slower than the Slate 21 Pro’s similar 1.8GHz CPU. Both come with 2GB of RAM, but the Slate 21 Pro is equipped with 16GB of solid state storage, while the A2272 includes half as much.
The AOC all-in-one takes the lead in terms of what you can connect to. In addition to four USB ports (one of which is a micro-USB), the system has HDMI, audio and a VGA connector for use with an older monitor or projector. As is the case with the Slate 21 Pro, the AOC system can’t send a signal to a projector or larger display for the whole class to see.
If you use the included USB cable to link the A2272 with a computer, it can be used as a touch-screen monitor. The display responds quickly and reliably to taps and swipes, but can only handle two inputs at a time. In addition to a 720P Web cam, the system has a pair of 2 watt speakers that can get loud enough for the whole room to hear.
In terms of performance, the A2272 was a step behind the Slate 21 Pro with an Antutu Performance score of 16,674, making it roughly half as powerful. Still, it was able to work well with everything from the University of Colorado’s PHET science and math simulations to handling an assortment of Google Docs and a variety of online curriculum items. While being used, it consumes 27 watts of power, slightly more than the Slate 21 Pro does, but less than most light bulbs. All told, it should cost less than $7 a year to operate the system.
Like the Slate 21 Pro, the A2272 comes with a three-year warranty, but it lacks HP’s thoughtful Classroom Manager client software. On the downside, while the Slate 21 Pro has a nice cable cover, plugs directly into a wall outlet and comes with a basic keyboard and mouse, the A2272 doesn’t. The system’s AC adapter is an inconvenience, figure that a keyboard and mouse will add about $20 to the price tag, putting the $379 Slate 21 Pro and $360 A2272 on an even playing field.
For those schools interested in having touch in every classroom, the A2272 is an inexpensive and versatile way to achieve this goal.
+ Has VGA port
+ 4 USB
+ HD display
+ Can use as touch Display
+ Screenshot button
- Requires external power adapter
- Doesn’t come with keyboard and mouse