Acer, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo are placing big bets on Android-based desktops in 2014 with each taking the wraps off all-in-one systems based on the operating system Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
PC channel partners and industry experts say the move are keeping in line with businesses' slow march away from more expensive Microsoft and Intel-based PCs and the growing trend toward more affordable hardware well-matched for the burgeoning software-defined data center.
"When a business surveys the landscape, looking for Windows alternatives, HP is giving them a viable option with a low bill of materials," said Roger Kay, founder and president of Wayland, Mass.-based Endpoint Technologies Associates.
HP introduced Slate21 Pro, a $400 "business-ready Android all-in-one" that runs the Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and boasts an Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core processor, 2 GB of DDR3, 16 GB of flash storage and 21.5-inch touchscreen. The PC ships with apps Kingsoft Office Suite and cloud storage from Google and Box. HP said the Slate21 Pro is Citrix ready and HDX verified, giving the system the ability to access a "secure virtual Windows environment."
Jamie Shepard, regional vice president, North America for Lumenate, a Dallas-based national solution provider, said the timing is perfect with businesses poised to make client-side investments that complement their cloud infrastructures. "2014 is going to be a big year for virtual infrastructure. HP and Lenovo are smart. They are giving enterprise a return on their cloud investments with back-end systems ready for BYOD and affordable OS-agnostic computers. Companies don't want to have to spend $1,300 on new laptops or desktops."
Lenovo's N308 all-in-one PC based on Nvidia's quad-core Tegra processor runs Android 4.2 and sports a 19.5-inch touchscreen, 2 GB of memory and 500 GB of storage, with a price tag of $450. While Lenovo is positioning its N308 PC as a consumer device, Shepard sees it having crossover business appeal. The N308 ships with a full-sized keyboard and mouse, with a display that can be detached for use as a tablet with 3-hour battery life.
The new systems come as Google has been stepping up its Chrome OS push, partnering with Dell, HP and Samsung on Chromebooks. But the Android OS, says Shepard, is easier to write and customize applications for compared to Chrome. "Google controls the Chrome OS. They have been partnering with hardware manufacturers who are locked-in to building specific laptops. With Android, PC makers can customize the OS with security features and build applications to VAR managed virtualized infrastructure," Shepard said.
Following the Android trend, Acer announced a $1,100 consumer-centric all-in-one TA272 HUL desktop powered by Nvidia's Tegra quad-core processor, with 16 GB of built-in storage and an ultra-HD 2,560-x-1,440 pixel, 27-inch touch display, running Android 4.2. While the most expensive of the three Android all-in-ones announced at CES, the TA272 HUL also touts both HDMI and DisplayPort inputs allowing the screen to be used with a Windows 8 touchscreen display.
"There is a lot of uncertainty around Microsoft right now as it searches for a new CEO. Now is the time for anyone pushing a Microsoft alternative to push a little harder," said Larry Velez, CTO and founder of Sinu, a New York-based MSP that partners with both Google and Microsoft. Velez said Microsoft's yet-to-be-named CEO will likely hit the ground running and put pressure on Google's various threats to the Windows OS. "Until the giant [Microsoft] wakes up again, this is an opportunity for some to sneak by Microsoft."
PUBLISHED JAN. 6, 2013