HP’s ElitePad 900 tablet is sleek, powerful and packed with excellent enterprise security features. However, that package of features, along with excellent expansion capabilities, make for a premium-priced tablet not all business buyers will be able to justify. (4 out of 5 stars).
You may have first started hearing some buzz about the ElitePad 900 back when it was announced shortly after Windows 8 was launched in October, though HP didn't start shipping it until earlier this year.
But you could tell early on from just the specs that this is a serious enterprise-grade device. The ElitePad 900 has a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 resolution screen with Gorilla Glass 2 display protection, an 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 processor, the Windows 8 operating system and a host of security measures including HP Client Security, HP BIOS Protection and Microsoft Defender to stave off security threats and keep data encrypted.
TabTimes put the ElitePad 900 through its paces at a recent technology event in London for this first look review
The tablet is stylish, offering a silver aluminium and black rear with rubberized texture. That makes it easy to hold, though it feels slightly heavier than an iPad and is (1.54 versus 1.44 pounds for the iPad. At a mere 9.2 mm, it's actually a tad thinner than the iPad which is 9.4 mm).
The tablet sports its own proprietary connector at the bottom of the device and that comes in handy for connecting to HP’s assortment of peripherals, including a battery ‘jacket’ and a tablet dock.
The power button, screen rotation lock and headphone jack are all conveniently at the top of the tablet when in landscape mode where you expect them, with the volume rocker to the left. MicroSD and micro-SIM (for the 3G) slots are hidden behind a flip on the other side.
Powered by the dual-core Atom processor, Windows 8 is very responsive on the ElitePad 900 and while the capacitive touchscreen is no slouch, it is fair to say that the 1280 x 800 resolution isn’t that breath-taking for pixel density.
The IPS display does offer excellent viewing angles although the 16:10 aspect ratio does mean that you’ll be getting black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when watching widescreen movies (commonly formatted in the 16:9 aspect ratio).
The ElitePad 900 has two cameras and both are excellent. Photos were high-resolution from the 8MP camera on the rear, while the front-facing Full HD 1080p camera was very clear, which is good news if you plan to use this tablet for videoconferencing.
The stereo speakers sit at the bottom of the tablet and lack some depth when we tested them, but are plenty loud when pitched at maximum volume.
However, for all the specs and security features, it is the collection of optional accessories which make the ElitePad 900 an exciting product.
In fact, there is such an array of accessories that it's hard to remember them all. There is a HDMI/VGA adaptor ($49), an optional stylus ($39) and a tablet dock ($119) which offers its own connectivity outputs and acts as a charging station.
It can even be used as a secondary display when connecting to your desktop monitor, with a demo at the exhibition using a VGA cable from the dock to the LCD monitor.
The most impressive accessory of the lot is the Expansion Jacket which almost doubles the tablet’s battery life (from 8-10 hours to 15-20 hours, according to HP). It also provides its own suite of connectors (USB, HDMI, full-sized SD card), but is not cheap at $79. In our short demo, it did get hot pretty quickly.
Other accessories are coming soon as well; HP told TabTimes that a physical keyboard will launch in late March, a Bluetooth version later in the year as well as a rugged case for field workers.
In summary, the HP ElitePad 900 is an impressive tablet with a premium price. Starting at $799 with 32GB of storage, the Windows 8 model is only $100 cheaper than the entry-level Surface Pro, which offers twice the storage (64GB) and a more powerful Intel Core processor.
The Expansion Jacket and other accessories make the price go down easier if you're looking to the ElitePad 900 as a laptop replacement and plan to take advantage of its expansion options. For the more casual business user, the price is too high.