HP Envy Rove 20 review: A tabletop PC that costs less, weighs more

HP Envy Rove 20
Video None
Audio Stereo speakers w/subwoofer, combo headphone/microphone jack
Data 3 USB 3.0, SD card reader
Networking Ethernet (via USB dongle), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None

Connections, performance, and battery
Thanks in part of its hefty size, you get a very comparable set of ports and connections on the Rove 20 to what you'd find on a standard all-in-one desktop, including three USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot. I wasn't a fan of offloading the Ethernet jack to a USB dongle, but I liked the easy to access volume up/down rocker on the right edge, and the manual screen rotation button on the left. Like the most recent Apple MacBooks, the Wi-Fi is of the newer, faster 802.11ac variety, although you'll need a new router to take advantage of that.

HP only has a single configuration available right now, which includes a fourth-generation Intel Core i3-4010U processor, 4GB of RAM, and a sizable 1TB HDD with an 8GB SSD cache. In our benchmark tests, the Rove 20 was slower than each of the other tabletop PCs we've tested, all of which use an Intel Core i5 CPU, although those are from the previous generation of Intel's Core i-series chips.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Despite that, the Rove 20 felt perfectly fast when used for everyday tasks such as Web surfing, social media, video playback, or work processing, and it should handle any task you'd use a mainstream all-in-one for without slowdown or stuttering.

One issue is that these tabletop PCs, especially when folded down, are great for tabletop gaming. But, with a slower CPU and no discrete graphics card, there's very little serious gaming you're going to be able to do on here. A few built-in apps, such as a visually bland chess/checkers/backgammon app, at least give you something to do for family gaming, and the Microsoft App store can give you casual games, including the new Halo: Spartan Assault, that work well.

While these tabletop PCs are not intended to run all day away from an outlet, it's nice to be able to carry one to another room and have it last long enough to watch a film or to set up in the kitchen as a virtual cookbook. By those standards, the Rove 20 did very respectively, running for 3 hours and 47 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. The very power-efficient new Intel generation of CPUs helps with that, no doubt.

Conclusion
The HP Rove 20 doesn't break much new ground in the newish tabletop PC category, but it's built like a tank, has a great adjustable kickstand hinge, and gives you a full 1TB of hard drive space for less than anyone else. That said, I'd be tempted to spend another $100 or so on Dell's 18-inch version -- despite having a slightly smaller screen, the Dell version includes a full 1080p display and weighs half as much as the Rove 20.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
iTunes and HandBrake  

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

System configurations
HP Envy Rove 20 (1.7GHz Core i3, August 2013)
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i3 4010U; 4GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB Intel HD Graphics 4000 embedded graphics chip;1TB SSHD hard drive

Apple iMac 21.5-inch (November 2012)
Apple OS X Mountain Lion 10.8; 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-3330S; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card; 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon
Windows 8 (64-bit) 1.8 GHz; Intel Core i5-3427U; 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT620M graphics card; 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Dell XPS 18
Windows 8 Pro (64-bit); 1.8GHZ Intel Core i5-3337U; 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB Intel HD Graphics 4000 embedded graphics chip; HD1 32GB SSD HD2 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive

Sony Vaio Tap 20
Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB Intel HD Graphics 4000 embedded graphics chip; 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

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