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HP ElitePad 900: A rugged Win 8 tablet for business road warriors

Richard Baguley | July 3, 2013
This mil-spec tested tablet can take punishment, but its performance is held back by a slow processor and a small amount of memory.

HP elitepad 900

The HP ElitePad 900 is a tough son of a tablet. Designed for business or outdoor use, it is built to survive being dropped, dinged, dusted, and handled roughly enough to make an iPad cry. HP has tested it to the military MIL-STD810G standard for dust, vibration, temperatures high and low, humidity, altitude, and drop-proofing for heights of up to 30 inches.

Most uber-durable devices end up looking like the back end of a tank, but the ElitePad 900 is quite attractive. Just 9.2mm thick and weighing less than 1.4 pounds, with a CNC-milled aluminum back (CNC refers to computer numerical control in manufacturing), a front that's covered in Gorilla Glass 2, and rounded corners, this tablet is small and sleek enough not to look out of place in the office.

Some will argue that a tablet shouldn't be compared to a notebook, but the two really aren't all that different.

While it is rugged, it's no speed demon: With just a 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 single-core processor and only 2GB of RAM, the ElitePad 900 managed a teeth-grindingly low Notebook Worldbench 8.1 score of 43. That's the lowest score we've seen with our updated test suite, and is less than half of the mark on our reference device, the Asus VivoBook S550CA.

elitepad 900
ROBERT CARDIN. HP's rugged ElitePad 900 runs Windows 8.

Some will argue that a tablet shouldn't be compared to a notebook, but the two kinds of hardware really aren't all that different. Essentially, one has a physical keyboard and the other typically doesn't. In this case, much of the ElitePad 900's performance shortcomings come from its reliance on Intel's Atom processor (and its integrated GPU), and a paucity of RAM (which the CPU and the integrated GPU must share). This rendered the ElitePad incapable of running any of our game benchmarks.

Graphics performance
We don't expect anyone would buy this tablet for gaming, of course, but games are one of the best measures of graphics performance, and the ElitePad is decidedly weak on that score. What's more, HP's tablet didn't have the horsepower to play our HD test video smoothly, either. It did manage to play HD YouTube videos, but the sound that emerged from its speakers was thin and tinny. The 1280-by-800-pixel display, on the other hand, delivered good color and brightness: With the backlight cranked up, I measured it at 351 cd/m2 (candelas per square meter; I used a Spyder 4 Elite monitor calibration tool).

Storage is on the small side: The model HP sent for review has a 64GB SSD, or you can opt for a slightly less expensive model with a 32GB SSD. HP uses 3.5GB of that storage for a recovery partition and 100MB to store system tools, leaving 41.2GB of free space. Our review unit also included a mobile broadband adapter that works alongside the dual-band (2.4GHz/5GHz) 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi adapter. The broadband adapter works with either T-Mobile's or AT&T's HSPA+ network, but not with the faster LTE network that AT&T has and that T-Mobile is rolling out.


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