HP ElitePad 900: Sexy but pricey tablet for the enterprise (review)

Summary:The tablet market may be driven by the consumer but this Windows tablet from HP is looking to get into the enterprise with unique features.

Don't forget your jacket -- Unique expansion accessories

In addition to the ruggedized construction, HP has developed a couple of accessories it calls jackets to make the ElitePad 900 work in various environments.

Battery Expansion Jacket

The first accessory is a small shell that the tablet is popped into that adds an additional 5 hours of battery life through a small battery in the jacket. The jacket is constructed of durable plastic and protects the ElitePad 900 all around with the exception of the screen. The tablet's proprietary charging connector can charge both the jacket battery and the tablet.

Expansion jacket w battery
Expansion Jacket with battery installed

In addition to adding the extra battery life, the jacket has the following ports on the bottom: 2-USB, HDMI, and a full-sized SD slot. The tablet's volume rocker control is replicated on the back of the jacket since it covers the tablet back, as is the power button on top.

The Expansion Jacket with battery adds 0.86lb to the 1.36lb of the tablet alone.

This Expansion Jacket is available from HP for $79 which doesn't include the pop-out battery pack which is sold separately for a whopping $149.

Productivity Jacket

Some tablet owners need a keyboard and HP has produced the Productivity Jacket for them. This is a full case the has a very good keyboard inside. 

KB Jacket closed
Productivity jacket closed with ElitePad 900 inside

Once the tablet is popped into the jacket it becomes more like a laptop than a tablet with a keyboard. The case holds the tablet at three different viewing angles to handle most any use case. The three slots that prop the tablet use magnets to hold the tablet sturdily in place.

It is a full keyboard that is one of the best I've tested on models designed for tablets. The top row of function keys double as tablet controls for one-finger operation.

KB Jacket side

This keyboard has an advantage over most models designed for use with tablets as it uses a physical connection to the ElitePad 900 instead of a Bluetooth connection. The tablet plugs into the jacket through the charging/docking connector. This connection eliminates the short lag before the keyboard can be used as is common with Bluetooth models.

There are two USB ports and a full-sized SD card slot on the back of the Productivity Jacket. There is also a power jack for plugging in the tablet power adapter for operation/charging.

The keyboard does not have any kind of touchpad which would be very useful for Windows 8 operation. All UI interaction must be via the tablet touch screen. While using the case the lack of a touchpad is sorely felt. Even an optical trackstick would have been welcome like that on the ThinkPad Tablet 2 keyboard.

The Productivity Jacket weighs a significant 1.87lb not counting the tablet.

The HP Productivity Jacket is available for a staggering $199 at the time of this review.

Conclusion

HP has produced a solid tablet in the ElitePad 900 that while designed for the enterprise could easily meet consumers' demands. The high price of the tablet and accessories will likely leave consumers behind.

The two jackets provide useful features to the tablet that can handle virtually any environment and work scenario. It is easy to envision the tablet used in the field, especially in warehouse environments.

Topics: Mobility, Bring Your Own Device, Reviews, Tablets

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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