Windows 8 tablets and hybrid devices powered by an Intel Atom processor score over premium models powered by Core i5 and i7 processors when it comes to battery life. Moreover, they come in at half the price and are equally versatile, albeit slightly slower. We have already seen some great examples such as the HP Envy X2 and Acer Iconia W5, both of which are hybrid devices featuring a detachable design. Today we have with us yet another Atom-powered device, the HP ElitePad 900, that uses a different approach and targets office users. Here’s what it has in store for you.

An Intel Atom-powered Windows 8 tablet

An Intel Atom-powered Windows 8 tablet

Design and features

The ElitePad 900 resembles an elongated iPad—when held in portrait mode, it’s about an inch taller and a few millimetres narrower. This straightaway indicates that the display of the ElitePad 900 has a widescreen aspect ratio. However, a pixel dimension of 1280 x 800 translates to an aspect ratio of 16:10 unlike 16:9, which is the case with most laptops and tablets that have 1366 x 768 pixel displays. This was the first thing that disappointed us. The display is vibrant and features Gorilla Glass 2 protection, but it would have been nice to see a full HD panel.

The core of the HP ElitePad 900 isn’t much different from that of the HP Envy x2, Acer Iconia W5 and Dell Latitude 10 ST. At its heart is the Intel Atom Z2760 processor ticking at 1.8GHz and 2GB of RAM. The variant that we got our hands on offers 32GB of onboard storage (eMMC SSD type) and comes with 32-bit Windows 8 operating system.

Very good build quality and pleasing aesthetics

Very good build quality and pleasing aesthetics

HP hasn't compromised on the build and finish of this tablet—it’s impeccable. The casing is made of aluminium and sports a matte finish. The only plastic bit is a black patch on the rear that houses cellular and Wi-Fi antennas and NFC sensor. An almost invisible 8 megapixel camera is also present at the top right corner of the black patch, next to which is an LED flash. Below that you have the volume rocker and the opposite side is home to a microSD and a SIM card slot hidden under a plastic flap, which can be ejected using a SIM card eject tool or a paperclip.

8 megapixel camera with LED flash and volume rocker

8 megapixel camera with LED flash and volume rocker

When held in portrait mode, you’ll find the power button on the left side at the top. An autorotate toggle switch and a 3.5 mm earphone jack are placed on the right side. At 0.75-inch, the black frame around the display isn’t too thick. A full HD front camera is placed at the centre of the frame above the display. The Start button takes its usual place at the bottom centre of the frame. Lay the tablet flat on the desk and you’ll see stereo speakers on the bottom side—they’re placed on either side of a proprietary connector. That rounds out the exterior of the device. 

SIM and microSD card slot covered by a plastic flap

SIM and microSD card slot covered by a plastic flap

Sounds incomplete? Are you thinking about the presence of USB ports and HDMI output on the side of the device? You don’t get any of that built-in. If you want them, you have two options.

Expansion Jacket with USB ports, HDMI output and SD/MMC card reader

Expansion Jacket with USB ports, HDMI output and SD/MMC card reader

First, you can opt for the HP ElitePad Expansion Jacket. It’s a tough plastic housing with a rubberised finish that encases the tablet. The bottom of the jacket has a pair of USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, SD/MMC card reader and the same proprietary port as that on the tablet for PC connectivity. The jacket also has a provision to take an additional battery pack (also an optional accessory) to add few more hours of battery life. The Expansion Jacket and battery will set you back Rs 6,999 and Rs 5,990 respectively—that’s almost Rs 13,000 extra for HDMI and USB ports and additional battery life.

Docking Station for ElitePad 900

Docking Station for ElitePad 900

Converts the tablet to a desktop PC

Converts the tablet to a desktop PC

The second option is the ElitePad Docking Station that allows using the tablet as a desktop PC. It’s layered with a rubber mat at the bottom and weighs a good 657 grams so that it doesn’t budge. A pair of USB 2.0 ports is placed on each side and the rear has an Ethernet port, an HDMI port and VGA output. The dock draws power from the supplied power adapter. Thus it enables using input devices and peripherals such as multifunction devices and external storage with the tablet. This desktop PC transformation doesn’t come in cheap—the Docking Station carries a price tag of Rs 9,999. Another optional accessory is the HP Executive Tablet pen that’s priced at Rs 3,499. It’s a digitiser that allows making sketches and taking handwritten notes.

Media

With Windows Media Player at hand and the option to install VLC and a host of third party media players, you shouldn’t have any problem playing any file type. We tried playing MPEG, MP4 and DivX files, and we didn’t face issue. However, you need a compatible third party media player if you want to play MKV files. The same goes for FLAC audio playback. The ElitePad 900 easily handles full HD playback. We didn’t notice any stutter or lag. As for viewing photos, we recommend using freeware photo viewer such as IrfanView, which is more versatile than the built-in photo viewer in Windows.

Performance

The Intel Atom Z2760 is best at running basic everyday apps, which includes media player, office suite, web browser, email client and Windows native apps—anything heavier will cause stutter. So, don’t expect this tablet to ace at video transcoding and intense photo editing. An overall score of 1457 in PCMark clearly highlights this. What particularly impressed us was the quality of pictures taken by the 8 megapixel camera on the rear. Shoot indoors and in shade, and you’ll get great looking photos with good detailing and colours. However, the camera struggles when it comes to strong backlight and high contrast scenes wherein the highlights are blown and colours and details go for a toss. The one on the ElitePad 900 is one of the best we’ve seen in tablets.

Blown highlights in bright sunlight, but good details and colours in shadow

Blown highlights in bright sunlight, but good details and colours in shadow

Good colours and details in good lighting

Good colours and details in good lighting

Punchy indoor shots

Shot indoors in ambient lighting without flash

Battery life

We used Battery Eater Pro to assess the battery life of this tablet. The Classic mode renders a 3D scene in a loop until the battery runs dry. On a single charge, the ElitePad 900 survived for 6 hours and 10 minutes, which is very impressive. With light usage you can easily expect more than 10 hours of battery life.

Verdict and price in India

The HP ElitePad 900 is available in two variants—32GB storage with Windows 8 and 64GB storage with Windows 8 Pro. These are priced at an MRP of Rs 43,500 and Rs 49,200 respectively, which is not quite bad for an Atom-powered Windows 8 tablet with 3G SIM support. If the device had built-in USB 2.0 and HDMI ports along with a full HD display, it would have been good bang for the buck. 

If you have a budget of up to Rs 45,000 for a 3G tablet, then we suggest you go in for the Apple iPad (32GB with Wi-Fi and cellular support). The ElitePad 900 is a worthy consideration only if Windows 8 is a necessity for you.

Publish date: May 7, 2013 5:43 pm| Modified date: December 19, 2013 11:23 am

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