Android now equips thousands of different terminals. Among them, there are of course many smartphones, but also tablets and, more surprisingly, computers. Several manufacturers have indeed tried the experience of creating laptops that come by default with Android as the operating system. HP is one such manufacturer and has announced the SlateBook 14, a 14-inch laptop running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
Android on a computer, no doubt that it may seem strange and, in use, it is indeed somewhat. But after that first impression, what does the HP SlateBook 14 give? To find out, read this complete test of the beast!
First of all, in order not to change the good old habits, let's start by listing the different technical specifications that characterize the HP SlateBook 14 where we can find:
- a 14-inch touchscreen with Full HD display (1920 × 1080 pixels);
- an Nvidia Tegra 4, quad-core processor clocked at 1.9 GHz;
- 2 GiB of RAM;
- 32 GB of internal memory;
- 1 microSD card port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port, 1 HDMI port;
- dimensions of 34.4 × 24 × 1.59 cm;
- a weight of 1.68 kg;
- Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
The HP SlateBook 14 is available for € 399.00 in a single color: dark gray with touches of yellow. It is powered by a 3 cell Li-ion polymer battery and comes with all the expected Google apps like Gmail and of course the Play Store.
The SlateBook may be a laptop, but it still retains some components that we would see more useful on a tablet, such as the accelerometer or the gyroscope for example.
Design and ergonomics
The SlateBook 14 sports a fairly standard design from HP. Entirely gray, the brand's logo is highlighted in a yellow disc which recalls the back of the computer itself which is completely yellow.
With its rather thin thickness for a laptop and its weight of only 1.68 kg, the HP SlateBook 14 can be classified in the category of ultrabooks. It is light and portable and can accompany you wherever you go without any discomfort. Its rather particular size will however prevent you from finding multitudes of well-adapted storage pockets: there are a few but much less than for sizes a little more “standard”.
The SlateBook 14 can be used entirely with the touchscreen, since Android was made for that originally. However, it is quite possible to use the touchpad or even an external mouse to simulate your finger. The touchpad also has the good taste to offer multitouch as does the touch screen.
Navigating with the touchscreen is convenient, but the keyboard prevents a grip as good as with a tablet, which is rather a shame. The problem with this keyboard is that it annoys more than anything else: Android is far from requiring the continued use of a keyboard.
Aside from this questionable utility, the keyboard is very good. It is comfortable, the keys are pleasant to hit, in short, using this keyboard is of course much better than using a touch keyboard.
This keyboard is a little different from what you will find on more traditional computers. There are thus no keys such as F1, F5 and others, but we can see there keys such as “ Home ” or “ Back ”, which will have exactly the same function as those found … below of the touch screen. Making a choice would have been more judicious, and removing the touch buttons would thus have been largely justified.
It would also have been a good way to remove a click control from Android, because it is one of the weak points of this SlateBook 14: the screen is not stable and clicking on it will make it shake a little. , which is quite annoying considering that, on Android, you have to click all the time!
User experience with HP applications
The screen shakes a little too much when used, but otherwise this use is fluid: it responds quickly and is therefore very responsive. On the display side, it's not perfect: the colors are good and there is in fact nothing to complain about. When we are opposite. Because the viewing angle of the HP SlateBook 14 is not very good, even if it defends itself: as soon as you move away from the perpendicular, the image remains visible but the colors are immediately less beautiful. Pity.
Android's navigation keys are not the only ones that can be found on the keyboard of the SlateBook 14, which offers various shortcuts to launch the search, whether by the keyboard or by voice. There is also a very appreciable screenshot button and a shortcut to a web browser. The problem with shortcuts, ultimately, is that they do not seem to be configurable: for example, I installed Firefox and this key continues to only offer me the Android browser or Google Chrome.
The autonomy of the HP SlateBook 14 is bad: the screen consumes all the battery at an insane rate and it will thus be necessary to sacrifice some functions and a good part of the brightness to be able to continue using the computer.
On the overlay side, HP has remained very simple, a bit like Motorola: we are faced with an almost pure Android, with only a few applications installed by default. Suddenly, we do not really understand why HP persists in staying on Android 4.3 and not updating its machine.
Regarding the applications offered by HP, they are quite diverse and will allow you, for example, to connect a printer to your SlateBook, so that you can then print documents created with the integrated office suite.
This suite will allow you to create Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents. The options are however more limited than on the original software and you will not be able to use the most advanced features of the Microsoft Office suite on computers.
Remote printing works quite well and should therefore prove useful to anyone using the office suite.
Finally, on the sound side, we are entitled to a Beats Audio system, but it is hardly impressive: the volume can certainly go up quite high, but the sound quality is not the best.
The HP SlateBook 14 doesn't leave a very good overall impression. Android is clearly not suitable for such use: those who wait for a tablet will be bothered by the keyboard, and those who wait for a computer will be bothered by the lack of “big” really complete software like those that can be found on Windows, Linux or Mac OS.
In addition, a 14-inch screen may seem a little too large: few applications are suitable and we can see many pixelations. Some of these apps only launch in portrait mode, which is a bit annoying since, in these cases, the SlateBook displays things vertically, with large black bands on the sides.
In short, the experience is interesting but it could have been more conclusive if HP had proposed a more suitable overlay.