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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.

You don't get many wired connections to the outside world, though. The tablet offers only a headphone jack, a SIM and microSD card slot (under a tightly fitted cover), and a proprietary dock/case connector. It has no USB or other ports, but the dock connector does allow you to plug in optional accessories, such as an HDMI/VGA adapter ($49), an ethernet adapter ($39), or a USB adapter ($29).

I/O port options
HP also offers a neat keyboard case (the company refers to this $249 product as a "productivity jacket," which might help you justify its expense to the accountants). It fits around the tablet, clamshell style, and while it adds some bulk (it's nearly an inch thick and weighs almost a pound), it also provides a number of features, such as a good keyboard, with decent-size keys and acceptable travel; two USB ports; and an SDHC card reader. The case also props the tablet up at your choice of three angles, so it sits like a conventional laptop. A connector on the back of the jacket duplicates the proprietary connector on the base of the tablet, so you can use the same adapters for extra USB ports or digital video outputs. These jackets and adapters are not as rugged as the tablet, so don't expect them to sail through combat in the same way.

Though the ElitePad 900 is, as noted, no speed demon, it's fast enough to run applications such as Word and Excel (as long as you don't do anything too complicated). And the upside to the presence of an underpowered processor and so little memory is that the tablet has excellent battery life: In our testing, it lasted an impressive 7 hours, 33 minutes. That's less than HP's 10-hour claim, but it's enough for a full day of work. And if you're planning a longer trip into the lovely, dark, and deep woods, you can extend that time with HP's Expansion Jacket with Battery. HP claims the jacket will extend battery life to 20 hours (we did not test this claim). The jacket, which also adds two USB 2.0 ports and a HDMI output, is priced at $229.

HP giveth, and HP taketh away
The ElitePad 900 is a corporate tablet in the purest sense: It looks unobtrusive, it has good battery life, and it can handle everyday tasks. HP also offers a good number of perks to make IT people's lives easier, including a special tool that lets you crack the case to replace or repair internal components, and a collection of high-end asset-management and deployment tools. But the ElitePad 900 lacks the processing power and memory to tackle complex tasks, and it provides very limited storage capacity.


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