I don´t know if you´ve already heard about it, the HP Slatebook 14, it´s a 14″ Android Laptop. Yes, an Android laptop. It´s not completely official yet but there´s already a video of it floating around the web and what we know so far of it is this.
It will come with a 14″ 1080p touchscreen display, powered by a Nvidia quad-core CPU (most probably the Tegra 4), it has sd card slot, usb slots, sim tray, front facing camera and Beats Audio speakers. That´s not a whole lot of information, but this article is less about this specific device and more about the idea of an Android laptop in general.
The Slatebook 14 is not the first Android laptop, but at least it seems to have potential to be one of the more promising ones. The Tegra 4 actually should be able to provide enough power for a good performance and also the rest sounds good but the real question for me and maybe also some of you is, how much sense does an Android Laptop make?
Android is primarily a smartphone OS
I think it´s safe to say Android is first and foremost a smartphone OS at its core, sure it is also used on tablets, but let´s be honest, in most cases it still up to this day behaves as an oversized phone, granted there are a few tablet optimized apps but even those don´t really take advantage of the bigger screen and offer much more capabilities. But you have to admit one thing, for what it´s supposed to do, Android works quite well on both phones and tablets, but what about the bigger screen?
The question here is, is Android capable of taking advantage of the 14″ screen size now or in the near future? I’m not so sure. OK, basically it can do most of the stuff an entry level laptop can do. You can browse the web, check your emails, watch YouTube/videos and listen to music but you can do all of this also on a tablet with a smaller screen size. But a laptop with 14″ I think should be able to do more. Since it comes with a keyboard attached, are we supposed to assume that we are to use this with for chatting and hangouts? I don´t think so. Keyboards are for more productive work like creating word documents, spreadsheets and so on. Thanks to the various office apps that are available by now this also should be possible without any major restrictions, there´s even Microsoft Office on Android, so nothing should stop you from being productive. But then again, I think productive is the last things that comes in most people’s mind when they hear Android. Android still is more for the consumer, not the content creator. Sure you won´t really be able to get any video editing done on Android, but the basic office loads should be covered and let´s be real here, most average people don´t really need much more on a laptop anyways.
It does what most people actually need
Because here´s the thing, most average non tech savvy people I know mostly use their laptop for simple tasks like Facebook, YouTube, emails, videos, music and browsing the web, and then some light office tasks from time to time, and guess what, Android is capable of all that and actually very effectively, so if you ask me an Android laptop actually makes a lot of sense. Those people want the more traditional laptop form factor with a bigger screen than most tablets offer since it´s much more pleasant to watch videos and browse on a bigger screen and here´s the good part. Most of those people already use an Android smartphone so they are familiar with the OS, maybe even more than most people really are with a Windows machine because I doubt most people actually use more than 10% of it´s potential.
If you count yourself to the previously mentioned group of casual users there actually doesn´t even have to be a catch but if you expect a bit more of a laptop than things could be more difficult. Because no matter how capable Android is as a smartphone, it definitely has some weaknesses if you want to me more productive. There are some limitations like network capabilities, actual performance, limited multitasking, limited driver support for things like peripherals and many other minor devices.
For me it´s noticeable in WiFi speeds, all the Android devices I tested so far maxed out at about 4MB/s where Windows devices on the other hand were easily able to achieve 20MB/s and more. I don´t know if that´s only an issue of my end or not, it can´t be my router since that one is capable of the latest AC standard and is one of the very best available ones on the market (fyi it´s the Asus AC68U). And these speeds make a difference if you want to be productive but it´s not just the speed. On Windows you can easily access your network drives of your home server and almost use them exactly as if they would be local storage, that´s not the case on Android, pretty often you will have to first copy the files to the local storage to view them. This means you are way more depended on local storage than on other operating systems. Sure you can do a lot over the cloud and your home network but for some people that´s more tricky than for others. You don´t have to see this out of the geeks perspective here but of the average consumer who doesn´t want to concern about those things.
The other crucial thing is Android´s “fake” multiasking as I would call it, since it´s not really always performing multiple tasks at the same time but jumping between them while putting them on hold in the mean time, it´s not the worst solution but it´s definitely not the best either, so this laptop better pack at least 3GB of RAM to keep as many tasks in RAM as possible to make things easier. I´d like to see Android progress here and maybe offer real multitasking at some point since newer hardware gets more and more capable with time, Android should keep this in mind I think.
There´s definitely a market for those kind of devices even though just a limited one for now I think. For the average consumer Android is still nothing more than a smartphone/tablet/touchscreen OS and laptops either run Windows or MAC OS. What has to happen here is a change in people’s mind like it´s happening right now with Chromebooks. they can´t do as much as “real” laptops but then again, do they have to? After all they are capable of doing most of the stuff a big part of the population needs them to and that for a really compelling price as well. We don´t know the price of the HP Slatebook yet but if reasonable it could jump right in-between those 2 categories and fill up the space. It offers more than Chrome OS due to the huge amount of easy accessible apps, but it´s of course not as capable as a full fetched laptop, but the good things in most case scenarios it doesn´t have to be.
Honestly if the price and performance along with the build quality and weight is right I´d actually think about getting one of these. Because there are not enough ultrabook sized devices with a satisfying screen and great battery life available with an affordable price and the HP could maybe end up becoming exactly that, fingers crossed. We´ll have to wait and see.
But enough of my thoughts, what do you think of the Android laptop idea, after all most of you here a die-hard Android fans but would you actually consider to replace your laptop with such a device in the near future or is that completely out of the question, please let me know in the comments