HP ElitePad 900 review

HP ElitePad 900 review

Summary: Although it's well built and delivers decent battery life, the ElitePad 900's combination of a basic Atom-based tablet and a range of optional extras is an expensive way to build a work-ready system.

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  • Editors' rating:
    7.0
  • User rating:
    5.2
  • RRP:
    £519.00

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Good battery life
  • Thin and comfortable to hold
  • Mobile broadband option

Cons

  • Necessary accessories add to cost
  • Minimal scope for expansion without accessories
  • Proprietary charging connector
  • Lacklustre performance

The majority of today's tablets are aimed at consumers or target the consumer/business crossover market. HP's 10.1-inch Atom-based ElitePad 900, by contrast, is aimed squarely at businesses. It runs Windows 8, has a good choice of accessories and is attractively priced starting at £623 (inc. VAT; £519 ex. VAT) for a model without mobile broadband.

hp-ep-900-1
HP's 10.1-inch Atom-based ElitePad 900 runs 32-bit Windows 8 Professional and comes in Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi plus mobile broadband versions, with either 32GB or 64GB of SSD storage. (Image: HP)

Design

With its black screen bezel and silver outer rim, the ElitePad 900 has a very familiar appearance: at first glance, from a distance, you could easily mistake it for an iPad. Look closely and you'll spot the differences, though. The Windows button beneath the screen is an obviously giveaway, while the device's slightly angled short edges, which make the silver piping seem overly thick, aren't particularly easy on the eye.

Even the rounded corners manage to jar the eye as the silver piping twists from being angled on the short edges to flat on the long edges. None of these design niggles are deal-breakers for us, but HP could have crafted a sleeker look.

Still, the ElitePad 900 is comfortable to hold. It has a starting weight of 630g (rising slightly if the mobile broadband module is added) and is admirably thin at 9.2mm, which makes it feel particularly good in the hand.

The back is mostly silver and has a metal-look finish that helps keep the ElitePad 900 cool to the touch. It might also be prone to scratches though.

hp-ep-900-back
The ElitePad 900's main rear camera is an 8-megapixel unit. The touch zone for NFC (Near Field Communications) is indicated by an icon. (Image: HP)

Buttons and connectors ranged around the edges include a volume rocker on the left short edge; mirroring its position on the right is a hinged cover which you release via a pinhole to reveal microSD card and microSIM slots. The top edge houses the headphone jack, the main power button and a toggle switch that switches automatic screen rotation on and off. The system's dual internal microphones also sit in this upper area.

On the back is an 8-megapixel camera with its own LED flash, while the front camera has a 2 megapixel resolution. Both are capable of shooting 1080p video.

The bottom edge of the chassis houses a pair of stereo speakers and, in the middle, HP's proprietary charging connector. The sizeable two-piece AC adapter with a fixed cable will be annoying to have to carry around — but carry it you must, if you want to keep the battery topped up.

hp-eb-900-tb
Top and bottom views of the 9.2mm-thick ElitePad 900. The charging connector is a proprietary unit. (Images: HP)

The ElitePad 900's 10.1-inch screen has a resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels, or 149 pixels per inch (ppi). This is a fairly ordinary resolution compared to the 4th-generation iPad's 264ppi (9.7in./2,048-by-1,536-pixel) display, for example, or the 300ppi (10.05in./2,560-by-1,600-pixel) Google Nexus 10. The ElitePad's aspect ratio of 16:10 might appeal to business users who do a lot of spreadsheet-related work, although at this resolution text generated in classic Windows mode can be painfully small to read.

Features

Running Windows 8 Professional, the HP ElitePad 900 is suitable for use as a business tool in both 'modern' and 'desktop' modes. The modern (Metro) interface looks great, but you may need to squint to see detail when working in desktop ('classic' Windows) mode.

However, you're not getting business-notebook-grade specifications here. The Windows 8 version is 32-bit rather than 64-bit, while the processor is a 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 with 2GB of RAM. This will be underpowered for many business users — think 'netbook' rather than notebook. If all you do is a bit of web browsing, produce simple documents, check email and create straightforward spreadsheets, then you'll be OK. But if your requirements include more processor-intensive tasks you should look elsewhere.

Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) is included as standard, with mobile broadband (HSPA+) available in two of the four available models. There are two models with 32GB of eMMC SSD storage and two with 64GB. To get the maximum storage and mobile broadband, the current asking price at HP's UK website is £713 (inc. VAT; £594 ex. VAT).

One thing you do get here is NFC (Near Field Communications). The tapping area is helpfully marked on the back of the chassis so you can find it easily. How much this matters will depend on how your business values NFC, of course; we suspect that it's not a big draw for many firms at the moment.

To get the most out of the ElitePad 900 in the office, you'll almost certainly need to buy into the accessories ecosystem. This includes a keyboard that connects via Bluetooth, a stylus pen, a docking station and an 'expansion jacket'. HP sent us the dock and the jacket to evaluate.

The keyboard does not come in the form of a dock or have any way of attaching to the ElitePad 900, so you'll need to find a way of taking care of it in transit. Also, there's no housing for the stylus on the ElitePad 900 — as there is on, for example, Samsung's Galaxy Note range. So you'll have to find a way to stow this safely too.

The expansion jacket can accommodate a second battery for extended life and costs £78 (inc. VAT) without the battery. It adds two USB 2.0 ports, a HDMI connector, an combo audio jack and an SD card slot. It's bulky and will add a fair bit of weight (260g without the battery) to your setup. The docking station (£94 inc. VAT) is small and exceptionally heavy at 670g. The weight means that it won't topple backwards when you prod the screen as with so many tablet docking units. It's not intended to be carried, but to sit on your desk, where it holds the ElitePad 900 at a good, but inflexible, viewing angle, adding HDMI and VGA connectors, four USB 2.0 ports, a combo audio jack and an RJ-45 Ethernet port. It also includes a passthrough power connector.

Performance

Given its specification, it's no surprise that the ElitePad 900's Windows Experience Index (WEI) is mediocre at 3.3 (out of 7.9). The WEI corresponds to the lowest component score, which went to Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance). The other component scores were 3.5 for Processor (Calculations per second), 3.6 for Graphics (desktop graphics performance), 4.6 for Memory (RAM Memory operations per second) and 5.5 for Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate).

The ElitePad 900's 2-cell 25Wh Li-polymer battery should deliver around nine to ten hours' life — although you'll get less with heavy use of mobile broadband and/or GPS, in particular. Add a second battery via the expansion jacket and you can double your uptime — albeit at the expense of considerable weight gain.

Conclusion

The HP ElitePad 900's combination of a basic Atom-based tablet and a range of optional extras is an expensive way to build a work-ready system. Without the extras, it's hampered as an office device by its limited connectivity and lack of a physical keyboard. We're much more drawn to touch-enabledWindows 8 notebooks like Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch, or convertible designs like Dell's XPS 12.

Specifications

General
Dimensions (W x H x D) 26.02 x 0.92 x 17.73 cm
Case form factor slate tablet
Weight 0.63 kg
OS & software
Operating system Windows 8 Professional (32-bit)
Chipset & memory
RAM installed 2048 MB
Display
Display technology multi-touch TFT touchscreen with digitiser, Gorilla Glass 2
Display size 10.1 in
Native resolution 1280x800 pixels
Networking
Ethernet RJ-45 on optional docking station
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n
Bluetooth 4.0
Mobile broadband optional (HSPA+)
Input
Pointing devices touchscreen, optional stylus
Keyboard optional Bluetooth keyboard
Camera
2nd camera front
Flash Yes
Main camera rear
2nd camera resolution 2 megapixels
Main camera resolution 8 megapixels
Audio
Audio connectors microphone/headphone combo
Speakers stereo
Microphone dual mic array
Miscellaneous
Accessories AC adapter
Other optional docking station (£94), Expansion jacket (£74), Bluetooth keyboard, digitiser stylus
Battery
Battery technology Li-polymer
Number of batteries supplied 1
Number of batteries supported 2
Networks
3.xG HSPA+
Processor & memory
Clock speed 1.8 GHz
Processor manufacturer Intel
Processor model Atom Z2760
Solid-state drive
Capacity 32 GB
Expand

Prices

Price
Price GBP 519
Price USD 699

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Reviews, Tablets, Windows 8

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Talkback

7 comments
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  • I had this for a few weeks, returned it though...

    I liked this tablet quite a bit: nicely built, great screen aspect ratio... except that the digitizer/pen combo is still very subpar compared to Wacom and N-trig options.
    miralles
  • Atom Seems Like A Complete Waste Of Time

    Is there a single Atom-based device worth buying? Seems like Intel has gone downhill since it got obsessed with pursuing ARM...
    ldo17
    • Several worth buying actually.

      5.0

      I think this tablet is overpriced at $700.

      Something like the HP Envy X2 at $599 is a pretty good buy as it includes the keyboard dock that has an extra battery.

      It has become my primary tablet, replacing my Android tablet 100%. It also makes for a very servicable laptop for 90% of my computing needs. 3d gaming being the last 10% is doesn't do very well. Not metro apps, but desktop 3d games.

      Acer W510 and Asus Vivotab Smart windows8 tablets running intel atoms for $350 make them very good options for people looking to do more than mobile operating system tablets can offer.

      Can't wait to see what bay trail tablets are capable of with the HD4000 graphics in them.
      Emacho
  • Pixelated Dispay

    1.0

    Is HP even trying anymore. Another over priced tablet with a pixelated display.
    MichaelInMA
    • Productivity vs Gaming

      9.0

      I guess my use of tablets is not the same as the other reviewers. I don't use tablets for gaming. I find the primary use is mobility (using the product on the road for business that demands connectivity and applications that allow real modification of Office documents, presentations, business app use, and live communication). Playing movies (using VLC etc.) seem to work well on the plane, as well as some limited games. Using the full version of Office 360 (including SharePoint) rather than the "Pokey" versions I purchased for Droid and the iPad makes this tablet tops for the cross over from fun to real work... Just my opinion. (In truth I have not tried the Surface). Note on the HP Splits, this seems like a great solution as well, and cost wise a superb option.... May be my next purchase :)
      Stark Clarity
  • More cons

    2.0

    Not only is the price way too high, but it is limited to 2GB of RAM only and also 32-bit Windows only due to the Atom processor. The screen resolution is way too low also. It seems they crippled the hardware for the sole sake of some extra battery life. But who cares about battery life if you're not even using the underpowered device?

    This is something that should be priced at half the cost they are trying to sell it at considering how very limited it is and the extra costs needed to add peripherals to get some basic hardware functionality.
    Hemo2
  • Excellent Tablet

    9.0

    I own an iPad, iPad II, TouchPad, and two droid tablets. These are all fine for playing, surfing and limited productivity. The ElitePad is the first tablet that can truly be used for both entertainment and serious work. It is FAST, it blows away every other tablet for responsiveness, screen refresh, application loading, switching, and multi tasking. The Win 8 environment (which I hate on the desktop) is very usable in the tablet form factor. The ease at which the unit linked to my enterprise email service, my Gmail services and my social networking was better than I had hoped. The Bluetooth was rock solid, WIFI is fast and stable and the camera just downright excellent. All in all, if it had a micro USB and a micro SD card slot it would get a "Perfect" Rating.
    Stark Clarity