HP ElitePad 900 review:

A business-minded Atom tablet with accessories

Connections, performance, and battery
Trying to connect with the ElitePad 900 can be easy or difficult, depending on your approach. The tablet itself has no easily accessible ports, but if you are using one of the accessory jackets or the dock, then you have a reasonable set of connections. The individually sold dongles are annoying -- no one wants to walk around with a pocket full of those. The tablet has dual cameras, an 8MP one on the rear and a standard 1080p Webcam on the inside.

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Every available EliteBook configuration has the same 1.5GHz Intel Atom Z2760 GPU and 2GB of RAM, with the main differences being either a 32- or 64GB SSD and various mobile broadband options. All this means that the system's performance is predictably comparable to other Atom-powered Windows 8 tablets we've tested, some of which cost a lot less.

Unfortunately, if you're counting on the ElitePad as a workplace machine, we have to hold it to a higher standard than a casual consumer PC. That means the Intel Atom experience can frankly be sluggish, especially if you're using apps, such as Google's Chrome Web browser, that are not optimized as well for Windows 8/Atom as Microsoft's default apps (IE10, for example). That, coupled with the small screen and relatively low resolution, made using the ElitePad fine in short bursts, but not as an all-day (or even all-afternoon) PC.

Battery life was good at first glance, running for 7 hours, 15 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. But, considering the battery life we've seen in some other Atom tablets, which can run 90 minutes longer or more, there's room for improvement. Our expansion jacket did not include the optional additional battery pack, so we were unable to test both batteries together.

Of all the Windows 8 tablets we've tested to date, or at least the ones with Intel Atom CPUs, the HP ElitePad 900 has the most in-depth ecosystem of add-ons and accessories. Pick the right set for your needs and you can overcome most of the limitations of trying to work on a small, low-power tablet -- still, it's a shame there's no officially pitched HP solution to the lack of touch pad, pointing stick, or mouse (besides digging through a generic list of mice you can buy at the same time).

With the high starting cost of the tablet itself, plus the expensive accessories, you might be better off investing in a full Core i5 Surface Pro from Microsoft, or else hoping that your IT department is willing to foot the bill.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Load test (average watts)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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System configurations

HP ElitePad 900
Windows 8 (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GBDDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 32MB Intel GMA; 64GB SSD

Asus VivoTab Smart
Windows 8 (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 725MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB SSD

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
Windows 8 (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 737MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB MMC SSD

Dell Latitude 10
Windows 8 (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 747MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB MMC SSD

Acer Iconia W510P-1406
Windows 8 Pro (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 747MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB SEM64G SSD

Microsoft Surface Pro
Windows 8 Pro (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Micron SSD

What you'll pay

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