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HP Envy Rove 20 Review

HP Envy Rove 20 Review
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With a bright, 20-inch screen and a healthy helping of touch games, the HP Envy Rove 20 is a portable all-in-one designed so that the family can gather around the screen. This lightweight desktop ($879 as tested) boasts Beats Audio technology, a 10-point touch display, solid Core i3 performance, and board game favorites like "Monopoly" and Chess. But how does this machine stack up to like-minded portable desktops?

Design

With curved edges and a smooth, aluminum-brushed rear panel, the HP Envy Rove 20 looks more like a giant tablet than a portable desktop. The all-in-one's thick black bezel sports a 720p camera at the top, with Beats Audio branding at the top left and a thin stereo speaker bar that starts at the bottom and wraps around the screen's corners.

The Rove 20's rear is flat enough to lie on a table, and there's a retractable stand for when you want to use the Rove on your desk.

Measuring 19.9 x 12.6 x 1.3 inches, the Rove 20 is similar in size to the 19.9 x 12.0 x 1.8-inch Sony VAIO Tap 20 and a little narrower than the Lenovo IdeaCentre Flex 20 (20.5 x 12.2 x 0.8 inches) and Acer Aspire Z3 (21.02 x 14.57 x 1.89).

Since it weighs 12 pounds, you can carry the Rove 20 from room to room without much trouble. It isn't quite as light as the 8.2-pound Flex 20 or 11.2-pound Tap 20, but the Rove 20 is less weighty than the 14.6-pound Aspire Z3.

Ports

The Rove 20's power button sits on the top-right edge of the all-in-one, with volume control, a USB 3.0 port and a headphone jack resting on the bottom right. On the bottom left edge, you'll find a power input, two additional USB 3.0 ports and a button for rotating the screen orientation should you want to treat the Rove like a massive tablet.

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We found the bottom-edge placement of the Rove's SD Card slot rather awkward, as it renders the port unusable when you have the all-in-one propped up on your desk.

Keyboard and Mouse

The Rove 20 ships with an HP wireless keyboard and mouse, which are both pretty bare in terms of special features.

The all-black mouse touts a sharp, evenly curved design. The left and right click buttons are on a single panel at the top, with the scrollbar dividing them. We wish the bulk of the mouse's weight were shifted to the rear, as we constantly found our palms rubbing against our desk as we navigated Windows. 

We enjoyed the keyboard more, as it features a full number-pad and dedicated keys for volume control. The charcoal plastic keys were comfortable, too, providing a nice level of feedback without making a lot of clicky noise. We typed at a snappy 80 words per minute with a 1-percent error rate, besting our usual speed of roughly 65 wpm.

Display

Like the VAIO Tap 20 and IdeaCentre Flex 20, the Rove 20 features a 1600 x 900 LED touch screen. While the multicolored Windows 8.1 app icons looked bright and clear on the Rove's screen, the text under each icon was pixelated. The Aspire Z3 packs a crisper, 1080p display.

When we watched the action-packed HD trailer for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the film's many explosions looked rich, as did Cap's signature red, white and blue shield. The trailer remained clear when we watched it from about 75 degrees on either side, though we found the level of close-up facial detail lacking compared to 1080p desktops like the iMac 21.5.

Despite lacking a full-HD display, the Rove 20's 400-lux brightness rating outshines the competition by a long shot. The Aspire Z3 (242 lux), Tap 20 (254 lux), Flex 20 (274 lux) and 254-lux desktop replacement average all trailed behind the Rove.

Audio

Like many HP notebooks, the Rove 20 packs integrated Beats Audio technology alongside a built-in subwoofer. This combo allowed for some enjoyable music listening sessions, as the floaty synths and tight snares of Childish Gambino's "Telegraph Ave." sounded crisp through the Rove's speakers. However, the lead vocals became canned as the song reached its crescendo. 

We had a similar experience with rock songs like Panic at the Disco's "This Is Gospel," as the tinny singing somewhat offset the rollicking bass and beefy guitars.

Despite its mixed audio output, the Rove 20 registered a loud 89 decibels on the Laptop Mag Audio Test (sound output from 23 inches away). This score just edges out the 88-decibel output of the Aspire Z3 and Flex 20, and is a notch below the 90-decibel desktop replacement average.

Webcam

The Rove's 720p webcam provides respectable results for video chats, as we were able to see individual wrinkles on our gray button-down shirt. However, other details like facial hair and birthmarks looked blurred.

You can choose between Microsoft's stock Camera app and the included Cyberlink YouCam software to snap photos and videos. The former is pretty vanilla, while the latter allows you to add colorful frames, effects and markups to your image.

Performance

With a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i3-4010U processor and 4GB of RAM, the Envy proved to be a worthwhile companion for everyday entertainment. We streamed an HD episode of "Arrow" with 10 Chrome tabs open and the "Disney Princess Hidden Worlds" game running in the background, and experienced no slowdown during our session.

To gauge the Rove's capabilities against the competition, we tested the all-in-one against the Tap 20 (1.7 Intel Core i5-3317U), IdeaCentre Flex 20 (1.7-GHz Intel Core i3-4010U) and the Aspire Z3 (2.41-GHz Intel Pentium J2850).

HP's Rove netted a 3,617 on the Geekbench 3 performance test, edging out the Aspire Z3 (3,182) while falling just short of the Flex 20's score of 3,632.

It took the Envy Rove 8 minutes and 3 seconds to complete our OpenOffice spreadsheet test, which consists of matching 20,000 names to their addresses. The all-in-one's completion time was on a par with the Flex 20 (8:06) and much quicker than the Aspire Z3 (17:11), but it finished the job significantly slower than did the Tap 20 (5:47).

The Rove's 1TB, 5,400-rpm SATA drive transferred 4.97GB of multimedia at 36 MBps, which is faster than the Flex 20's 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive (31 MBps) and the Tap 20's 750GB, 5,400 SATA drive (12 MBps).

Graphics

Powered by Intel HD Graphics 4400, the Rove 20 held up well when we played through colorful games like "Adera" and "Monopoly." The HP all-in-one has the same integrated graphics quality as the Flex 20, while the Aspire Z3 and Tap 20 trail a bit with their Intel 4000 GPU processors.

The HP desktop scored 22,034 on the 3DMark Ice Storm test, besting the Aspire Z3 (11,454) and Flex 20 (19,957) while falling short of the 79,650 average for desktop replacements.

The Rove 20 ran "World of Warcraft" at a playable 34 frames per second at 1366 x 768 with autodetect on, outperforming the Aspire Z3 (16 fps), Flex 20 (27 fps) and Tap 20 (22 fps).

Using the same resolution at max settings, the game slowed to 14 fps on the Rove 20. HP's all-in-one still fared better than the Aspire Z3 (8 fps) and Tap 20 (12 fps), while barely trailing the Flex 20's 15 fps.

Battery Life

You can use the Envy Rove 20 unplugged for a fair amount of time, certainly long enough to play a few family games. The all-in-one lasted 3 hours and 37 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test, which involves continuous Web surfing on 40 percent brightness. This runtime edges out the Lenovo Flex 20 (3:27) and beats the Acer Aspire Z3 by more than an hour (2:15).

Software and Warranty

Running Windows 8.1, the Rove 20 packs a familiar gamut of Microsoft apps, including Skype, Xbox Music and SkyDrive, as well as newer additions like Fresh Paint and Bing Health and Fitness.

In addition to those stock apps, the Rove 20 ships with a bevy of digital board games for those who want to use the PC as a tabletop mega-tablet. The "Classic Board Games" suite includes Checkers, Chess and Backgammon. You control these games by simply dragging and dropping each game piece with your finger.

Other preloaded, touch-friendly titles include match game "Taptiles" and a 3D version of "Monopoly." We especially enjoyed the latter, as it brings some slick animations (and a much easier setup process) to the time-tested property game.

If you're feeling creative, the included Cyberlink PhotoDirector and PowerDirector allow you to edit pictures and videos, respectively. There's also the Fingertaps Instruments app, which lets you play along to popular songs using a virtual piano, guitar, bass or drum set.

On HP's end, you get HP Documentation, HP Recovery Manager and HP Support Assistant for updating your machine and getting quick help. The manufacturer also tossed in HP Connected Music and Connected Photo for consuming both stored and streaming content.

The Rove 20 ships with a one-year limited hardware warranty and one-year of software support.

Configurations

The Rove 20's two configs are nearly identical, so you'll only be splurging for extra storage space with the high-priced option. The starting $929 model packs a Core i3-4010 U processor with 4GB of RAM; a 750GB, 5,400-rpm SATA drive; and Intel HD Graphics 4400. For $979, you get the same specs with a 1TB, 5,400 SATA SSD.

Verdict

If you can live with a sub-1080p screen, the HP Envy Rove 20 ($879 as reviewed) holds tons of entertainment value for less than $1,000. The Rove's slick, tablet-esque aesthetic makes it fairly easy to bring to a friend's house, and you can make the most out of fun preloaded games like "Monopoly" and "TapTiles" with the Rove's bright touch-display. And while this is a family-focused machine, its Core i3 CPU powers through basic work tasks with ease.

The Rove 20 isn't the cheapest all-in-one of its kind, as you can pick up the equally kid-friendly Lenovo IdeaCentre Flex 20 for just $719. Lenovo's all-in-one also offers fun optional accessories. The $799 Acer Aspire Z3 steps up to a full-HD screen, but we still like the Rove's stronger overall performance, longer battery life and more-engaging app selection.

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