The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
HP ElitePad 1000 G2 business tablet
A Windows 8.1 tablet that is a major improvement over the previous ElitePad 900
- 1920x1200-pixel screen resolution
- Solid construction
- Lack of usable ports on the tablet itself
The ElitePad 1000 G2 is a major upgrade over the ElitePad 900, with the better screen, faster CPU and better battery life leading the way. It's a comfortable product to use due to its design, build quality and light weight, and it performs simple tasks well. It doesn't have built-in display or USB ports. Instead, an ecosystem of jackets and other accessories aims to expand its abilities, which means a further outlay depending on your needs.
Price$ 1,099.00 (AUD)
HP's business-centric ElitePad 1000 G2 tablet picks up the ball where it was dropped by the ElitePad 900. It has a more powerful processor at the helm, along with a larger allotment of RAM, it runs the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1, and it now has a 1920x1200-pixel, 10.1in screen as opposed to a 1280x800-pixel screen. Physically, the dimensions haven't changed, and this is so the new product can live in the ecosystem of accessories that was created for the 900.
Same shape, but with differences
At 656g, the ElitePad 1000 G2 (J4M73PA#ABG) isn't heavy (though 34g heavier than the previous version according to our digital scales), and it feels solidly constructed as far as Windows 8 slates are concerned — it's an aluminium unibody and has been tested to military standards (MIL-STD-810G). HP hasn't done much to modify the original design, apart from giving it more of a metal back and a larger logo. The top is still plastic, so that the antennas for the mobile broadband (4G) and Wi-Fi (dual-band Broadcom 802.11abgn) can breathe, the NFC antenna is now behind the glass rather than at the back (for models that have NFC, this one we're looking at doesn't), and the Windows Home button is now capacitive rather than a physical button. Like the old model, there are few features around the edges to interact with.
It's one of the slimmest Windows 8.1 tablets on the market, and it sits comfortably in the hand due to the curved back and angled edges. There is a power button at the top that is a little too easy to press by accident, and there are volume controls on the left side that sit almost flush with the body and are harder to press as a result. A sliding switch at the top-right of the tablet locks the orientation of the screen, and we think that style of switch should have instead been used for the power.
An all-over clean design hides a couple of the more interesting aspects of the ElitePad's design, which are the microSD card expansion slot and the SIM card slot. A paper clip or pin can be used to pop off the cover on the right-rear of the tablet, and this exposes those two slots, allowing you to add more storage through the microSD (SDXC) slot, and also to install the SIM from your choice of carrier. These two features make the ElitePad a good option for businesses that require on-the-go Internet connectivity without fussing for a hotspot connection, and more storage space than the internal solid state drive (SSD) can provide.
Another thing to note about the design of this tablet is that you can't just plug in a USB device on a whim. To plug in a USB stick or external hard drive, you must have the specialised USB adapter that plugs into the tablet's bottom-mounted dock connector. It now supports USB 3.0, whereas the ElitePad 900 was USB 2.0. This shouldn't be a problem for businesses wanting to restrict the ways that data can be transferred to the tablet, but for businesses that do need USB access, it means there is an extra little part that can go missing.
For convenient usage in the office, the optional dock accessory is a must. The dock sits sturdily on a desk and allows the tablet to be dropped on its connection with great ease (and it can be removed just as easily). We used it mostly to charge the tablet, as it's much neater to use the dock than plugging the power adapter's cable directly into the bottom of the tablet and then resting the tablet flat on the desk, but it also allowed for the tablet to be used as a desktop computer when we attached some USB peripherals to the rear of the dock.
A speed boost and a better screen
There is enough power under the hood to make for an enjoyable user experience, as long as you don't need to push the tablet too far. Its Intel Atom Z3795 (Bay Trail) CPU offers respectable speed for Web browsing and word processing tasks, and it's also competent at displaying photos and playing video files. With 4GB of low-power DDR3 SDRAM, there is good scope for multitasking, though the tasks you run can't be too CPU intensive.
In our Blender 3D rendering test, the Atom CPU completed our job in 1min 35sec, which is 5sec longer than what the Lenovo ThinkPad 10 did with the same CPU in the same test, but is nevertheless a good result. It's a major improvement over the Intel Atom Z2760 in last year's ElitePad 900, which recorded a time of 4min 51sec, and we noticed the difference during general usage as well.
The tablet felt responsive when browsing simple Web pages and typing documents, even when we flicked through photos on Flickr while streaming online audio through Google Play. Full HD videos through YouTube played effortlessly, though we did notice that some heavier Web pages, which commanded more of the CPU due to Flash elements or other scripts, caused issues with scrolling and navigation until their actions were completed. That's standard fare for tablets using this class of CPU.
Integrated storage is via a 64GB solid state drive, which clocked sequential data rates of 105 megabytes per second (MBps) and 35MBps in CrystalDiskMark for reading and writing, respectively. The read speed is an improvement over what the ElitePad 900 could do, but the write speed is stagnant.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the ElitePad 1000 G2 is its better-than-Full HD screen. In the past, we were told that lower resolutions were more suitable to business needs, but now the trend (from HP and Lenovo, at least) seems to be that Full HD (and 1920x1200, in this case) is the way to go. And no doubt the more powerful Atom CPU has facilitated that change. We're thankful for that, because the high-resolution screen on this ElitePad is crisp, and the extra vertical space comes in handy when viewing long lists, documents, and Web pages. The only drawback is that it can be tough to navigate the desktop at such a fine resolution, and making icons and text bigger in Windows doesn't always make everything bigger.
You can hold the screen at any angle and still see things in good colour and definition, however, because it's a glossy screen, reflections can be a bit of an annoyance depending on how bright your environment is. HP has used direct bonding on the screen to eliminate the gap between the Gorilla Glass 3 and the screen, which goes some way to reduce reflectivity caused by that gap.
Other features and accessories
A new HP Executive Tablet Pen G2 is available as an accessory, and it has 256 pressure-point sensitivity to facilitate sketching and other tasks that require sensitive input. The original HP Executive Tablet Pen still works on this screen. Writing on the tablet proved to be an enjoyable experience, with the Windows 8.1 handwriting recognition feature doing a good job of recognising the mess that our handwriting has become since the onset of the digital age. For note-taking and general pen input tasks, this tablet will do a good job.
We mentioned earlier that there isn't much around the sides of the tablet, but the ElitePad Expansion Jacket accessory is available if you require some extra connectivity. It supplies two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI output, a full-sized SD card reader, pass-through for sound, and all of this while still allowing the tablet to be used in the Docking Station without the jacket being removed.
If you want something with a keyboard, there is the ElitePad Productivity Jacket, which also allows the tablet to stand at three different angles, and it also offers two USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot. HP also offers a slim Bluetooth keyboard, though you could also use a Bluetooth keyboard of your own choice.
Like most HP business products that we've reviewed recently, the ElitePad 1000 G2 also comes with HP's Client Security software installed, which can be used to restrict access to ports and also enabled encryption. TPM 1.2 is built in, BIOS-level security is in place, and there are options for LANDesk and Microsoft management platforms. A Security Smart Jacket is another option, and it's kitted out with a Smart Card reader and a fingerprint reader for added user and network security. It can still allow the tablet to be docked.
An ElitePad Jacket Battery accessory is available for extra battery life, though the battery life of the tablet on its own is already very good. In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness, and loop a Full HD video file, the ElitePad 1000 G2 lasted exactly 10 hours. It's almost double the time of the ElitePad 900, even though the 1000 G2 has a screen with a higher pixel density, and it's a result of a more efficient Atom CPU, as well as a slightly bigger battery (30 Watt-hour as opposed to 25 Watt-hour).
Finally, HP has a jacket that can enable mobile point of sale functionality. It adds a barcode scanner and a credit card reader to the tablet.
The ElitePad 1000 G2 is a major upgrade over the ElitePad 900, with the better screen, faster CPU and better battery life leading the way. It's a comfortable product to use due to its design, build quality and light weight, and it performs simple tasks well. Additionally, handwriting tasks can be undertaken with good success. The lack of readily accessible ports could be a hindrance for some of you (with the USB dongle being a bit of a pain to use on a regular basis), though HP is relying on its ecosystem of jacket accessories to make this a more tailored solution depending on your needs.
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