Home Reviews Computers HP ElitePad 900 business tablet in a class of its own
HP ElitePad 900 business tablet in a class of its own Featured

Over the past few months I have taken more tablets than a hypochondriac. I have come to a few conclusions…

Type

Fun

Business

Value

iPad is a great entertainment device. Apps galore and great for content viewing. Tad expensive to buy and feed the ‘appit’ (app habit) but you get what you pay for.

10/10

5/10*

5/10

Android tablets are equally fun, cheaper to buy and run but paddling in the app cesspool is dangerous without protection.

10/10

2/10

9/10

Microsoft Surface RT is a well-made tablet, a tad expensive and its more limited app ecosystem holds it back. It has a functional version of Microsoft Office for business.

5/10

6/10

6/10

Windows 8 Pro tablets and hybrids (with keyboard) and Microsoft Office (at additional cost) are a great business companion and integrate tightly with Microsoft Office, Exchange and importantly as a BYOD device access corporate networks and printers effortlessly

5/10

9/10

8/10

* ‘Business tablets’ is what this article is about. Sure you can use an iPad so its ‘business’ users should not flame me – tell me what you do and if it does everything in review that follows.

HP ElitePad 900 

A well-made, tough as nails, droppable, ultimately repairable, business tablet. Its USP is that it has an excellent range of accessories to expand its use beyond a tablet.

Prices start at $799 for a 2GB/32GB and go up to $999 for the 2GB/64GB with HSPA/GPS coms module.

Tough as nails:

Mr HP proceed to heft a large “jig” onto my table “This is what we use to do repairs on site” he said as he slipped the ElitePad into the frame. He then put one of those ‘glass suckers’ and literally ripped off the screen exposing its innards. “This is a key feature for business – ultimate repairability on site” he says. “Our service people can replace the screen, battery, main board and comms modules in minutes – this is not a disposable device like most tablets” he adds.

The frame is milled aluminium, the screen is Gorilla Glass 2, the unit can withstand a drop from 1.2 metres and it still works. Few other tablets can do this.

Windows 8 Pro:

The key to successful BYOD is not to stress out the system administrator. “They know how to manage Windows computers, how to lock them down, profiles and more” says Mr HP. “HP Client Management solutions include LANDesk Management Suite which provides exclusive tools to locate and protect data on lost devices, remotely capture SIM card info for mass WWAN activation, enforce geographic policies to remotely lock and harden the device or remotely perform a full or selective wipe. Plus it works with all the printer drivers and software” he grins.

Few other tablets have these features to keep system administrators happy.

But the kicker is the range of smart accessories

The charging port is used to connect a range of ‘dongles’. There is a HDMI/VGA ($49.01), Tablet Pen ($49.01), USB, Ethernet, Serial port, SD reader and external power (that runs of the standar HP notebook adaptor). These are handy and I have no doubt that the cable manufacturers will all have a go at a variety of dongles when this this tablet reaches critical mass.

 

There is also a dock ($139) that has 3 x USB2.0, 1 Powered USB 2.0, 1 x combo headphone/mic jack, 1 HDMI, 1, VGA, 1 RJ-45 Ethernet and includes a standard HP notebook charger.

But perhaps more important is the Elite Pad sleeve (or Jacket) system. At present there are two (but I know that others are being planned i.e. for retail use with a credit card swipe or barcode scanner etc).

One is simply an expansion jacket (245g) that provides 2 x USB2.0, HDMI, HCSD/MMC slot and leaves all other ports accessible. The 10 hour battery adds 190g giving up to 20 hours use.

Another is a Productivity jacket and it turns the tablet into a notebook with a quality keyboard and three adjustable viewing angles. It adds 850g including a battery.

Opinion

HP have given this a lot of thought and a lot of pre-testing was done by corporate customers. I think they have created a new tablet ecosystem that will be the standard for business tablets for some time. The ElitePad is not intended for the general public and is sold via corporate channels.

My only criticism is the Intel 1.8GHZ processor is basic – I would love to have seen an i5 Haswell chip but these are still some months away (See iTWire article here ) and will certainly come to the ElitePad format.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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