Modular devices are in this year, and HP is bringing the trend to the desktop. It’s introducing a new computer called the Elite Slice, which is a crazy and excellent name, and which lets you snap on additional components to add new features to the PC, like speakers or a disc drive.
It’s a simple way of making PCs easier to expand and customize after purchase, rather than requiring people to dig inside their case or buy a whole new unit. For now, HP is keeping things pretty basic with the Elite Slice, with only three snap-ons available at launch.
- There’s an "audio module," which sounds cool but is just a fancy name for some microphones and speakers, which broadcast in all directions.
- There’s a disc drive, which does CDs and DVDs, which I guess would be helpful if you got Frank Ocean’s new album from one of his pop up shops, which I didn’t even after waiting in line for an hour because they ran out 10 people ahead of me, not that I’m at all upset about it.
- And there’s a VESA plate, in case you want to mount it.
The computer is pretty small on its own. It’s basically a short box with 6.5-inch sides that’s rises up to be about 1.4-inches tall, though it quickly doubles or triples if you stack on some modules. It looks pretty good, too — kind of like a baby Spectre that’s not meant to move around.
There’s one other way to customize the Elite Slice, although it’s something you’ll have to choose at purchase. The top of the PC can be outfitted with touch controls for phone calls, letting you pick up the phone, end a call, mute yourself, and adjust the volume. It’ll only work with Skype for Business, but it’s a nice idea. HP also plans to offer a wireless charging cover (using Qi and PMA), but that won’t be available at launch.
As the Skype integration may have tipped you off, this computer is mostly designed for the office. And in particular, for conference rooms. HP envisions it powering video conferencing setups, which both its audio module and Skype controls make a lot of sense for.
The modular PC concept seems pretty compelling, though it relies on the manufacturer (or third parties, if that kind of thing is allowed — and it’s not here) offering a wide variety of add-ons. That’s closer to what Acer is doing with its Revo Build Series, but it’s not quite the case for the Elite Slice. Instead, HP seems to be targeting a segment of buyers with simpler and more specific needs.