We have an “Auto-buy” arrangement with some of our local phone suppliers. When a new phone or tablet comes onto the market, they just send it over and if we don’t have it in our QA labs, we’ll buy it. Deliveries to the QA test lab usually consist of small boxes of the latest mobile phones and sometimes there is a new tablet, but a few weeks ago an enormous box turned up. Inside was the new 21” Android powered HP Slate. Basically an enormous 21” Android powered tablet.
I use a Samsung Note 8 as my primary phone. I LOVE lots of screen real estate. The HP Slate is designed for the desktop, a mains powered (no battery) 21” screen running Android 4.2. I quickly developed a liking for this mega beast of screen real estate. It is FAST (there is an NVIDIA® Tegra® 4 processor which combines CPU with a graphics chip), the screen is physically HUGE (1920 x 1080 pixels) and it uses an IPS display so is bright and clear and can be viewed from all angles. There is built in Wi-Fi and an ethernet port on the back, along with 3 x USB 2.0 ports, SD card and mic/headphone. Inside the box is a mouse and keyboard.
I instantly started to think about where I might be able to use these in our office. The large screen has a wide viewing angle, great sound and a keyboard so I thought they would be a great addition to our small meeting rooms. They would be perfect for showing a presentation to a few people, or for a Skype interview with customers, etc. Just maybe, the Slate 21 could replace the desktop PC of some users like the reception and concierge staff?
The Slate 21 also supports user profiles, so users can have their own settings and password.
Now to test it…
Try and remember the first time as a child you felt truly let down. Maybe it was that Batman and Robin show bag you spent your hard earned pocket money on at the local fair, the one which only had cheap plastic trinkets and an old chocolate bar well past its use-by date. Look back to the BMX bike you were expecting for Christmas, only to find a Steve Austin 6 million dollar man doll in your stocking…or to that very last bottle of 2010 Lafite-Rothschild, the one you were saving for a special occasion, and discovered it had turned into expensive vinegar?
My enthusiasm for the HP Slate 21 quickly evaporated when I attempted to get my Google Mail working on it. At Cloudstaff, we use 2 factor Authentication for our email and we require all users to have the Google Apps Device Policy application installed on all Android devices which connect to our Google Docs. It makes these devices more secure, you can ring or locate a lost device, remotely lock a device or change the PIN and Administrators can enforce security policies and remotely wipe devices.
Unfortunately, this device appears not to be supported by Google…
What’s going on, Google? Are you kidding? Why would you limit the support of this application?
Now, it is possible to Access your email via a web browser like Chrome, but it’s not the same thing to me; I want the native email program on the Slate 21, I want my Google Drive, my contacts, auto syncing, etc.
So if you are using it for home, the Slate 21 is probably not a bad option, but if you are a business or corporate user who follows Google best practices security and encourages BYOD or secure access from home, then there are far better products available.
Now let’s look at Microsoft. Skype is a pretty essential part of our business – our customers use it, so we need to use it. I am not a fan of the new Microsoft Skype for Android and now I have even more reason to dislike it. The Slate 21 has a physical keyboard and mouse (you can still use the on screen keyboard ) Er… Microsoft, let me ask you this – have you ever tested Skype and ANY android Tablet which uses a physical keyboard? Apparently not! When you try to chat, the SEND message button just disappears as soon as the space key is pressed!
So should you be adding this to your QA Testing program?
If your Android application targets the home/education user, then yes.
Target market for this is people who are going to be using this in front of the TV to surf the web, email, Facebook and gaming.
Gaming is not too bad on the 21″ screen and the Tegra 4 processor is incredibly fast and the full HD display looks great.
Remember the device operates in Landscape mode so if your app uses portrait orientation only, it will be useless turning this on its side.
I’m confident that Google will update the Google Apps Device Policy and come to the party. Sadly, Microsoft still have a long way to go…
Note: This article was written in December 2013 but only recently posted.