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HP ElitePad 900 Review
by Michael Wall -  4/10/2013

Build and Design

[click to view image]The business-oriented HP ElitePad 900 offers a sleek, clean design. The tablet is protected by a silver aluminum casing that covers its back panel. Along the top edge of the device there is black rubber protective padding that extends and inch down the tablet's back, encompassing the machine's rear-facing camera. Finally, part of the display is black Gorilla Glass panel that contrasts beautifully against the vibrant display and silver coating of the chassis.

Measuring at 7 x 10.3 x 0.4-inches and weighing in at 1.5 pounds, the tablet is easy to use and travel with. In addition to being portable, the high-quality build is also extremely durable. The tablet holds up well, causing the chassis to remain firm even when extreme pressure was applied.

With quality materials, a light weight build, and a sleek aesthetic the HP ElitePad is a tablet that certainly looks the part.

Display
Adding to the clean visuals, the display provides an excellent viewing experience. The tablet offers a 10.1-inch WXGA multi-touch display with a 1280 x 800 resolution and protective Corning Gorilla Glass. The strong color contrast and clean crisp clear image makes the HP ElitePad perfect for reading and viewing various types of media content.

The 10.1-inch display also boasts extremely generous viewing angles. The machine fares extremely well on the horizontal access with image quality holding up well past 100 degrees. The tablet's visuals remain clear when viewing along multiple points of the vertical axis as well, with no noticeable image distortion. The flexible viewing angles ensure that regardless of how users hold the device it will offer crisp easy-to-ready image.

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The only noticeable downside to the display is its reflective service. Unfortunately, the same glossy finish that provides users with bright vibrant color contrasts also tends to reflect images under most lighting conditions. Typically the reflections are rather faint, however with a dark solid color backdrop or extreme lighting conditions the reflections are much more noticeable, even distracting sometimes. This issue will be most noticeable for users who plan to use the device outside, in direct sunlight.

While the HP ElitePad lacks a stylus, the display offers solid controls. Responsive with little to no lag, every fingers swipe and click reads the first time it's performed with no delay. The touch controls even allow users to perform more precise functions such as selecting passages of text or using multi-finger gestures with relative ease.

[click to view image]On-Screen Keyboard
In line with the touch controls, the ElitePad 900 also offers a quality on-screen keyboard. The digital pad is responsive, with each key-stroke reading without lag. Like most digital keyboards, the tablet offers users the option between standard keyboard layout, split layout, and stylus-enabled layout; despite the lack of a bundled stylus.

There is a Bluetooth keyboard available for the HP ElitePad 900 ($60 additional), but unfortunately the review unit we received did not include it. Additionally, the ElitePad Docking Station ($150 additional) also offers additional USB ports allowing users to connect an external keyboard and mouse.

While the on-screen keyboard does offer solid performance, users interested in performance will want to invest in a physical keyboard. No matter how solid the digital controls are, it still falls short of the comfort and feel of a physical keyboard.

Buttons and Ports
Well it's difficult to say that the HP ElitePad 900 has a disappointing port selection, because the tablet does not have a port selection. The only port the device offers is a "power and docking connector" located along the bottom edge of the tablet, which only works with HP products.

To be fair, both the HP Elite Docking Station and HP ElitePad Expansion Jacket ($100 additional) do offer a wide section of ports in the device's stead, but being optional add-ons users will have to pay more for these accessories. The stand offers four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, a VGA video output, and an Ethernet port. The sleeve offers two USB 2.0 ports, a combo stereo/headphone jack, an HMDI port, and a HCSD/MMC card reader. It should also be noted that the tablet can wear the sleeve and be attached to the dock simultaneously.

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While the selection and layout of the ports is more than satisfactory, users will have to spend more to have access to these optional add-ons. Users expecting connectivity with the HP ElitePad 900 should be ready to spend more than the listing price.

In terms of buttons, the HP ElitePad 900 offers fairly standard button layout. The front panel houses a home screen button below the display. Volume controls are present on the back right panel of the device. Along the top edge the device offers a combo stereo/headphone/microphone jack, rotation switch, and a power button.

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[click to view image]Performance and Benchmarks

The performance is one of the notable weak points for the HP ElitePad 900. Equipped with an Intel Atom Z2760 Atom Processor and Intel Graphics Media Accelerator the tablet offers limited computing performance.

While the machine runs on Windows 8 and has access to a slew of programs, the tablet is best relegated to basic computing functions such as word processing and web surfing. More complex processes will cause noticeable performance drop.

With just 2GB of RAM, the ElitePad is also struggles to multi-task. The tablet can handle a few basic functions at once, but even juggling too many of basic functions will cause the machine to lag. While testing the device I tried running multiple video streams and noticed considerable lag and a lack of responsiveness.

Running apps through the desktop mode does augment this issue, but even while running Windows 8 apps the ElitePad does not excel at multi-tasking.

wPrime processor comparisons (lower score means better performance):

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PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark and measures overall systems performance (higher scores mean better performance):

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Crystal DiskMark storage drive performance test: 

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Battery Life
To test battery life, we used our new PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming, and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than many tests, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate real life use. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than most benchmarks.

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In our tests the HP ElitePad ran for 5 hours and 50 minutes in balanced mode before the device shut down after reaching 5% battery life limit reserve. Resting just shy of 6 hours the HP ElitePad 900 does not offer the longest battery life we've seen, but the numbers are still exceptional. Scoring 6 hours of battery life in our benchmark means that the tablet should comfortably make it through the hassle of a workday with a single charge.

Additionally, the HP ElitePad Expansion jacket which houses an additional battery effectively doubles the battery life of the device. In our tests with the jack the tablet ran for 10 hours and 52 minutes before the device shut down after reaching 5% battery life limit reserve. The jacket admittedly adds a bit more weight to the device, but it's an easy trade-off given the extra ports and incredible battery life that it delivers. If there is a must have accessory for the HP ElitePad it's this jacket no question

Specs
The HP ElitePad 900 unit we reviewed had the following specs:

Windows 8 (32-bit)
10.1-inch WXGA 1280 x 800 Display with Corning Gorilla Glass
Intel Z2760 Atom Processor
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator; 533 MHz
2GB DDR3
64GB eMMC SSD
802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
HSPA+ (Only in US)
7" x 10.28" x 0.36"
1.5 lbs.
HP ElitePad Docking Station
HP ElitePad Expansion Jacket
MSRP: $960
1 year warranty

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