The ElitePad 1000 G2 is HP's latest squarely business-oriented Windows tablet, and could be considered a direct rival for Microsoft's own Surface Pro 3. However, where HP's tablet really stands out is in its choice of accessories.
As well as the Bluetooth keyboard, a stylus and a docking station, there are a couple of cases, which HP refers to as Jackets, to expand the features of the tablet. HP sent us a few of these accessories to test along with the tablet; more on this below.
The tablet itself feels well suited to the rigours of business use. The aluminium rear wraps around the sides and top of the unit, making it feel well protected against knocks and drops as well as pleasantly cool to hold. The ElitePad 1000 G2 lacks the Surface Pro 3's angular style, but is surprisingly slightly slimmer, at just 9.1mm thick.
The ElitePad 1000 G2's 10.1in screen has a 1,920x1,200 resolution, which isn’t up there with the Surface Pro 3's huge 2,160x1,440 pixels, but is more than enough for Windows 8.1. The screen put in a mediocre performance in our tests, covering 72.3% of the sRGB colour gamut, but its 1,008:1 measured contrast ratio is more impressive. We could make out plenty of detail in the light and dark areas of our high-contrast test photos.
The touchscreen is highly responsive, helped by a very smooth screen coating. HP sent us the Executive Tablet Pen G2 to test with the tablet. This is relatively expensive at £35 inc VAT, but the battery-powered stylus has the advantage that the screen is aware of it, even when it's not in contact with the surface; this means you can hover over items such as links without clicking. The stylus also has a right-click button.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Surface Pro 3 is its screen's Palm rejection, which means it's possible to draw with your hand resting on the screen and the tablet will distinguish between the stylus nib and your palm. This also works to a certain degree on the ElitePad. Our resident artist was able to produce impressive drawings in Fresh Paint, helped by the control afforded by the pressure-sensitive pen, but there were a couple of erroneous marks on the artwork caused by her palm.
The ElitePad 1000 G2 has one of Intel's latest Bay Trail processors. This is a quad-core chip running at 1.6GHz, and has no problem running Windows 8.1 smoothly. Our test tablet was the 4G model, which also comes with a 128GB SSD compared to the 64GB of the non-4G ElitePad. We think the combination of built-in 4G and extra storage is worth the extra £80 over the cheaper ElitePad model. The SSD is no slouch, and applications start up quickly. HP has also customised Windows so that the Start Screen shows all your applications by default rather than the Live Tiles, which is likely to appeal to business users.
The tablet scored 31 overall in our benchmarks, which is what we expect to see from a budget laptop and is impressive for a tablet. This can't match the Surface Pro 3's overall score of 40 in the same benchmark, but we never noticed any slowdowns when using the tablet. It was even possible to play current office favourite Hearthstone; the intro videos were jerky, but we could still enjoy the fantasy card game action.
^ It's a slim and well-made tablet
HP sent us a boxful of accessories to test with the tablet. The first was the Slim Bluetooth Keyboard, at £32 inc VAT. This provides surprisingly easy typing and long key travel considering its small size, and we found we were typing at almost full speed within a few minutes. It's one of the best Bluetooth keyboards we've used and is great value. HP will also sell you a Productivity Jacket case which has a built-in keyboard as well as USB ports and an SD card reader for a huge £186 inc VAT, but we haven't tested this accessory.
We did manage to test the £83 inc VAT ElitePad Expansion Jacket. This slots around your tablet like a chunky case, and gives you two USB ports, an HDMI video output and an SD card reader, as well as a raised ridge around the screen to give it some more protection. The Jacket also has a space for the optional Expansion Jacket Battery, which is £83 inc VAT. Using both batteries in tandem increased the tablet's already-impressive 10h 8m of battery life in our video playback test to a huge 16h 5m.
^ The Expansion Jacket adds two USB ports, an HDMI ouput and a card reader, as well as 6h extra battery life
Finally, we tested the accessory most likely to appeal to mobile workers; the £98 inc VAT ElitePad Docking Station. This feels like a seriously well-made bit of kit, with enough weight to stop your tablet moving around the desk when you use its touchscreen. The docking station has four USB ports, VGA and HDMI video outputs and an Ethernet socket, so is just right for sitting on your desk with a keyboard, mouse, monitor and network cable plugged in, ready for you to get back to the office.
The HP ElitePad 1000 G2 is in many ways an impressive tablet. It has good build quality, a responsive touchscreen and a range of useful accessories, even though some are on the expensive side. We think the 4G ElitePad with the 128GB SSD is the better-value model; this may not have as good a screen or be quite as fast as Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, but it's a useful £60 cheaper and gives you the ability to work away from Wi-Fi thanks to its mobile data connection. The Surface Pro 3 is still our choice for a laptop-replacing tablet thanks to its superb display and svelte looks, but the ElitePad 1000 G2 is the choice for business.