HP's Envy Rove 20-inch 'tablet' tackles Windows 8 desktop PC woes

HP's Envy Rove all-in-one has an integrated battery and the look and feel of a supersized 20-inch tablet

Windows 8 has not found wide adoption among desktop users, so HP has announced a new portable all-in-one and lowered the price of touch PCs so users can take advantage of the operating system.

The company introduced the Envy Rove, which is an all-in-one desktop that looks like a supersized tablet with a 20-inch screen. At 5.3 kilograms, the PC can be moved around a house or office, and an integrated battery offers four hours of run time.

With the Rove, HP wants to bring mobility and tablet-like usage to all-in-ones, said Xavier Lauwaert, worldwide manager of product marketing for consumer desktops.

"Don't worry, we don't expect this to be [carried] to Starbucks," Lauwaert said.

All-in-one PCs like the Rove and Apple iMac typically pack components including processor and storage behind the screen.

The Envy Rove will ship in July though the price was not immediately available. HP has also introduced Pavilion TouchSmart touch all-in-ones at low prices and with upgraded processors that could prompt users to move away from towers. The US$619 Pavilion TouchSmart 20 has a 20-inch screen and will become available on June 23, while the $749 Pavilion TouchSmart 23 has a 23-inch screen and will ship on June 5.

Desktops are not built for the touch, and users have struggled adapting to Windows 8, Lauwaert said.

"On all-in-ones it has not been as much of a struggle as potentially on towers," Lauwaert said. "The appeal is bringing the goodness of Windows 8 to the more cost-conscious kind of end user."

The Envy Rove is similar to Dell's XPS 18, which is a tablet-like all-in-one with an 18.4-inch screen. Other PC makers have tried different designs in an effort to find the next hit. Asus' 18.4-inch Transformer AiO can run either Android or Windows 8, and Panasonic showed off a 20-inch tablet with a 3840 x 2160 pixel display.

HP said Envy Rove could be a substitute for board games. Monopoly and card games will come pre-loaded, and users can place the PC on a flat surface to play multiuser games. HP also demonstrated the PC being used as a substitute for a piano.

Rove will have Intel's upcoming Core processors code-named Haswell, which will be announced in June. Rove will also have 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology and support up to 1TB of hard-drive storage.

The Pavilion TouchSmart 20 and TouchSmart 23 will have the latest AMD and Intel chips.

More users may buy all-in-ones as prices come down and new models promote touch usage, said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC.

"All-in-ones have been the only growing portion of the desktop market," Chou said.

All-in-ones formed 11 percent of desktop shipments in the first quarter of 2013, growing from 7 percent in the first quarter of 2011, according to IDC. Desktops formed 44 percent of all PC shipments in the first quarter this year, and that number hasn't changed much over the last three years, Chou said.

While HP is trying to facilitate easy use of Windows 8, the company believes there are still benefits to budget desktops. The company introduced new towers starting at $289 for users who want easy repairs and memory, storage and processor upgrades. Some of these features are highly valued by IT departments.

"One of the values of the towers is legacy ports and also connectivity to anything," Lauwaert said.

The company has bundled a DVI (digital visual interface) port into one of its latest desktops to serve commercial users. DVI was introduced in 1999 to replace VGA, but it is still being used by commercial companies in monitors and projectors.

HP also introduced Envy desktops including the Phoenix 800, will start at $1,099. HP is offering optional liquid cooling with the model.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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