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Hands on: HP’s ElitePad 900 tablet easily outshines the TouchPad, except on price!

Check out our review of the HP ElitePad 900 tablet. 

HP knows it needs to get back into the tablet world, but after the HP TouchPad disaster (a tablet that sold so poorly HP had to hold a fire sale at $100 a piece), it’s treading lightly. The ElitePad 900 is the first attempt to dip a foot back in. It skipped the Windows 8 launch entirely and though it’s supposed to come out anytime now, we’ve barely seen it. Until now.

The ElitePad is one of the better Windows 8 tablets we’ve used. With a 1280×800 pixel 10.1-inch screen size, a new 1.8GHz dual-core Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, and 8-megapixel camera, the ElitePad meets all the standard specs you’d expect in a Windows 8 tablet, but doesn’t push the envelope. HP doesn’t appear to be packing a lot of custom software on the ElitePad either, which isn’t necessarily bad. 

HP’s hardware does raise the bar a little, however. The ElitePad has a nice aluminum body with a decent feel to it, reminiscent of Motorola’s Xyboard tablets a year or so ago. More interesting than how it looks on the outside is how its put together. Instead of screws and bolts, the ElitePad’s back panel is actually held together with a special kind of magnet, allowing the panel to be popped off quite easily and serviced, providing you have a fancy tool.

If you don’t frequent power outlets very often, HP also has a snap-on battery extender, which adds some bulk to the fairly thin tablet, but also nearly doubles its battery life from about eight hours to 14-15. HP also sells several docks and a keyboard dock, which also extend battery life.

Overall, HP’s ElitePad 900 isn’t pushing any new ideas, but it may become a popular device among those looking for a stable, decent Windows 8 tablet with good battery life. It’s not always the innovators who do best, and HP has learned that first hand. But at $650, it’s no bargain.