Last year at IFA 2015, Acer showed off the Revo Build, a small desktop PC with extra modules that could be added as needed, which could add extra storage space or other features like a wireless charging pad. This year, HP is showing off their take on the idea with the HP Elite Slice. It’s meant to be a space-saving office PC first and foremost, but the stackable modules they have at launch make this seem like a compelling choice for the business world. Best of all, it finally realizes the full potential of the USB Type-C cable.
The HP Elite Slice itself measures 6.5″ x 1.38″ x 6.5″ and weighs 2.31 pounds. It can be configured with the power-efficient T-series variants of Intel’s 6th generation Core i processors, integrated Intel HD Graphics 530, up to 32 GB of DDR4 RAM, and one of a number of SSDs between 128 GB and 512 GB (also varying by speed). It’s a little better than what we usually see from office PCs, which tend to be on the cheaper side as they usually need to be purchased in bulk and don’t need to handle processor-intensive tasks.
The interesting thing for those wanting to go wireless is what’s missing — a power cable headed to a wall outlet. When we first heard about the USB Type-C connector, we heard that the main advantage of the new standard was how much it could do at once. In theory, it could act as a power cable, an A/V cable, and handle data transfer all at once. But, until now, Type-C has mostly been another annoying standards change in smartphones and laptops that’s made our existing cables and accessories useless. With the HP Elite Slice, theory finally becomes reality — when plugged into a USB Type-C compatible monitor, the PC will draw power through the monitor over the Type-C cable while pushing A/V data to the monitor. Cable management? We don’t need cable management where we’re going.
But, wired ports are there if needed. Besides the USB 3.1 Type-C charging port, the HP Elite Slice has a second USB 3.1 Type-C port, two regular USB 3.1 ports (one with pass-through charging), one DisplayPort, one HDMI out port, an RJ-45 ethernet port, and a combo mic/headphone port. The Elite Slice comes standard with single band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but it can be configured for dual band if your office has a router to match.
The modules are what make the Elite Slice an office darling. There are two kinds — covers and modules. One example of a cover is the Collaboration Cover, which turns the top of the Slice into a business phone powered by Skype. There are capacitive touch buttons to make sending out calls as easy as it would be with a regular phone. There’s also a wireless charging cover in the works, which would charge smartphones with wireless charging tech. Then, there are the modules, which get stacked below the Elite Slice. These include a 360-degree Bang & Olufsen speaker unit and an optical drive, for all the data still stuck on CDs and DVDs.
Dynamic self-healing BIOS and an optional fingerprint scanner round out the business-friendly features of the Elite Slice. Dynamic self-healing BIOS in particular is nice, and is a unique feature to the Elite Slice. It allows the PC to fix any BIOS errors as they occur — handy, because BIOS errors can often end in bricked PCs.
The HP Elite Slice will be available sometime in September starting at $700 (it’ll get more expensive as you add modules and increase the specs). Or, you can opt for the Elite Slice for Meeting Rooms, which combines the Elite Slice, the calling cover, the speaker module, and Intel Unite meeting and collaboration software. That will also be available in September and will cost $950.