HP ElitePad 1000 G2 review

Saturday, November 8, 2014

For the past several weeks, I've had the opportunity to review the HP ElitePad 1000 G2 tablet PC running Windows 8.1. This is HPs 2nd generation ElitePad tablet PC - a very thin, light tablet that incorporates a modular design so that you can expand its capabilities by adding an Expansion Jacket, a Security Jacket, or a Productivity Jacket. You can also get a desktop docking station with multiple expansion ports or a rugged case (which may be very important in the health care setting).

At 9.2 mm thin and 1.5 lbs in weight, the ElitePad is one of the lightest and thinnest Windows 8.1 tablet PCs on the market.

In 2013, I reviewed the 1st generation HP ElitePad 900 and even compared some of its physical features to an iPad 3. At a glance, the ElitePad might remind someone of an iPad because it has a thin design, curved edges, and the colors are similar. Of course, comparing Windows 8.1 to iOS is like comparing a pickup truck to a bicycle.

The newer ElitePad 1000 looks almost identical to the older ElitePad 900. The biggest difference in appearance is that HP replaced the physical Windows button on the front with a capacitive button in the newer version. The HP logo on the back is also larger on the newer version.

The newer ElitePad 1000:
  • Performs much faster. The 3rd generation Intel Atom processor (Z3795) performs very nicely and still delivers very long battery life. The ElitePad 1000 runs a 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 and also supports enterprise-level encryption and security features (which is critical for enterprise health care users).
  • Uses a newer Atmel digital stylus pen (HP Executive Tablet Pen G2) that writes very nicely. Many physicians and nurses rely on pen-based input and also use their tablets to take notes.
  • Has a higher screen resolution at 1920 x 1200 (compared to 1280 x 800 on the original ElitePad).
Overall, the newer ElitePad 1000 is a very nice option for someone who is looking for a modular Windows 8 tablet that is thin, light, and delivers all-day battery life.

Those who have used tablets powered by earlier Intel Atom processors (1st or 2nd generation) may have some concerns about performance. The 3rd generation Intel Atom processor is fast, but it's still not as fast as Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processors. Keep in mind that the ElitePad won't get hot, it doesn't require a fan for cooling, and it will last all day. 

Some have asked me to compare the ElitePad to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, so here are some of my thoughts:
  • Surface Pro 3 is faster, but it has shorter real-world battery life compared to the ElitePad. Surface Pro 3  may also run a bit warm/hot when you're holding it in your hand.
  • ElitePad offers multiple docking and expansion sleeve options for greater flexibility as a tablet. 
  • Surface Pro 3 has a built-in kickstand to hold the tablet up for viewing and for using on your lap. 
  • ElitePad is smaller and lighter by approx 0.25 lbs. Surface Pro 3 has a larger 12" screen vs. the 10.1" screen on the ElitePad. 
  • ElitePad offers built-in 4G LTE wireless. Surprisingly, the Surface Pro 3 does not offer built-in 4G.
  • Digitizer pens: Surface Pro 3 uses a N-trig, ElitePad uses Atmel. Both work well. Both require batteries in the pen.
  • Keyboard docking options: Surface Pro 3 clicks on a magnetic keyboard + touchpad while the ElitePad fits into a Productivity Jacket keyboard case. 
Bottom line: the Surface Pro 3 is being marketed as a "laptop replacement" and the ElitePad is an enterprise tablet that's been optimized for use as a versatile tablet, not as a laptop replacement.

Health care professions may also want to consider the following:
  • Productivity goals: Many enterprise electronic health records (EHRs) still don't run well enough on an iPad to provide adequate functionality and productivity for physicians and nurses who want to get some serious work done while they're mobile.  
  • Do you need to use a pen with the tablet? Unlike the iPad, many (but not all) Windows 8 tablets support active digitizer pens. In health care, this is often a critical feature because of the need to jot notes while standing at the bedside, to sign digital forms, or to have greater precision when tapping on the screen.
  • Do you need built-in 4G LTE, or is this simply a "nice" option since you always have access to Wi-Fi?
  • Do you plan to use the device mostly as a laptop or mostly as a tablet? If you plan to hold the tablet in your hand and do work using the touch screen or pen, then size/weight/heat become key considerations. You may also want to get a tablet that fits into a rugged case or uses a hand strap.
Overall, the ElitePad 1000 is an excellent Windows 8 enterprise tablet for those looking for a mobile device that is very thin and light. Adding modular expansion sleeves will provide further flexibility and it's nice to have options like a rugged case, 4G LTE, and an active digitizer stylus pen.

    Preview Windows 10

    Sunday, November 2, 2014

    Windows XP is dead. Oct 31, 2014 was the last day that PC manufacturers could sell a new PC loaded with Windows 7 Home (You can still purchase PCs loaded with Windows 7 Professional).

    Some people who have transitioned to Windows 8 have continued to struggle with the traditional desktop environment vs. the modern touch-friendly environment optimized for mobile devices. Some have been waiting for Windows 9, hoping that it would resemble Windows 7.

    Well, Microsoft recently announced that they will be jumping right from Windows 8 to 10. There will be no Windows 9. Microsoft has allowed developers and IT professionals to test the prerelease version of Windows 10 through the Windows 10 Technical Preview program. 

    We're expecting Microsoft to release Windows 10 in 2015. Do you remember when Microsoft released Windows 8? It was Oct 2012.

    In many ways, Windows 10 will feel similar to Windows 8, but the Start Button on the lower left corner will return some features that some of us missed from Windows 7. Windows 10 will also include more robust enterprise security features and provide enhanced enterprise management options to simplify life IT departments. The reality of BYOD (bring your own device) will be easier to manage on devices running Windows 10 since your data will be separated into work vs. personal.

    To me, the biggest change in Windows 10 is that it will run across all devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. That's right - smartphones! Can you imagine running some of your enterprise applications on a smartphone screen?

    I've joined the Windows 10 Technical Preview program, so I'll be sharing some of my thoughts as I take Windows 10 for a test drive over the next few months.

    Exploring the HP ElitePad 1000 G2

    Saturday, September 6, 2014

    Some of you may know that I had the opportunity to test and review the HP ElitePad 900 back in early 2013. Back then, this was one of HP's first tablet PCs running Windows 8 (32-bit) and it was powered using a 2nd generation Intel Atom processor. The ElitePad was unique compared to most other tablet PCs in that it was designed to fit with various expansion sleeves and accessories that extended its capabilities.

    In the early part of 2014, HP released the updated ElitePad 1000 G2 which is powered by a 3rd generation Intel Atom processor and it runs the 64-bit version of Windows 8. The 3rd generation Atom processor is much faster than its predecessor and it consumes much less power than the Intel Core processors. So, the ElitePad 1000 is still light and thin and it offers all-day battery life. Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing more about my experience using the HP ElitePad 1000, so stay tuned.

    In the meanwhile, before you purchase a new tablet PC, consider whether you'll need to use an special stylus pen (active digitizer) for writing, drawing, scribbling, etc. with pinpoint accuracy. Or, do you simply need a device that will respond to your finger's touch? For me, a pen is critical. The options become more limited when you start researching tablet computers that support an active pen.

    The other major consideration is around the processor that's powering the PC. If you're going with a Windows 8 tablet PC, then most of them are either powered by an Intel Core processor (very fast, but consumes a lot of battery power, so will tend to be thicker and heavier), or an Intel Atom processor (relatively fast, thin, light, all-day battery life).

    The HP ElitePad 1000 G2 is one of the first tablet PCs that I'll be using that is powered by the 3rd generation Intel Atom processor and that runs a 64-bit version of Windows 8.

    Do you know how to tell if your PC is powered by a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation Intel Atom or Core processor?

    Surface Pro 2 type cover keyboard problem is fixed with the Alt key

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    For the past few months, I've been using a Surface Pro 2 and like some users out there, I've experienced a strange keyboard phenomenon. Call it a bug. Call it a glitch. It's not clear whether the problem is related to hardware, software, or both. I've experienced this on both the Type Cover 2 and the Power Cover, so I doubt that both keyboards are defective. The connectors on my Surface Pro 2 are clean.

    Here's what happens:

    The keys stop working. The mouse usually continues to work, but pressing the keys lead to unusual behavior. Pressing a key may delete sections of my work on Microsoft Word. Pressing a key may lead to a different website. Also, when clicking on a hyperlink, the Chrome browser downloads the link file and does not open the link. They keys may work on Internet Explorer, but then they don't work on Chrome. Strange. Also, if I try the virtual on-screen keyboard, I run into similar problems. The keys don't register on certain applications and they seem to work fine in other applications. Am I just going crazy here?

    There is a solution: press the Alt key. You can also reboot, sleep/wake, or do some other things, but I've found that pressing the Alt key is the fastest (and easiest) solution so far. Detaching and reattaching the keyboard usually doesn't change anything.

    So, why is this happening? It's annoying. People have reported this on the Microsoft forum "Surface Pro 2 Type keyboard randomly decides to quit working properly." Some claim that despite calls to technical support and replacing keyboards, they're still running into this issue.

    I don't think I've run into this problem when I've been using the Surface Pro 2 in tablet-only mode (no attached keyboard). So, there's something to attaching a keyboard to the Surface Pro 2.

    When will Microsoft release a permanent fix for this bug? Is everyone experiencing it, or just certain users? At first, I remember thinking that it may have been a glitch that would eventually go away, but the problem has persisted despite my efforts to Refresh and Reset Windows 8.

    HP Pro x2 612 could be a promising combination

    Sunday, July 6, 2014

    Many of you have been waiting for the perfect combination of a Windows tablet PC that also converts to a laptop. People still love using iPads and Android tablets for information consumption, but nothing beats the accuracy and the usability of an active digitizer pen (such as the Wacom pen) when you're standing by the patient's bedside and jotting down notes in digital ink so that they can converted into type.

    Older 1st and 2nd generation Atom-based tablet PCs have been very thin and light, but relatively slow and sluggish in their performance. Upgrading to a heavier tablet like the Surface Pro 2 provides ample horsepower at the expense of a very tired arm that's been holding a 2-pound tablet all day.

    When's the winning combination going to arrive? For me, the winning combination would be 1 to 1.3 pounds for the tablet, 5+ hrs of real-world battery life, support a Wacom digitizer, and dock into a backlit keyboard that has adjustable viewing angles (not a fixed viewing angle keyboard dock). A power keyboard that includes an integrated battery is a plus, but not an essential feature.

    Although the Lenovo ThinkPad 10 looks promising, it's still missing some critical features in my opinion: the keyboard dock is not backlit and it's a fixed angle keyboard. Otherwise, the ThinkPad 10 has almost everything else I'd be looking for in a light, thin tablet.

    The Surface Pro 3 is another possible option if you're willing to use something a bit larger and heavier.

    HP is releasing some new convertible tablet PCs this fall. They're adding to their HP Pro x2 lineup and the new model is the HP Pro x2 612. They currently sell the smaller HP Pro x2 410, so let's see what the new 612 brings to the table:

    The 612 will have a 12.5" screen and weigh 2.22 pounds (tablet only). Thankfully, HP is going back to a Wacom-based digitizer on the 612. I suspect their experience with Atmel led them to return to Wacom. The 612 will dock into a backlit keyboard or a keyboard that includes an internal battery to extend overall battery life. The tablet + power keyboard will weigh 4.09 pounds.

    The 410 has an 11.6" screen and weighs 1.8 pounds (tablet only). Unfortunately, the 410 does not include an active digitizer and it only comes with a standard keyboard dock (no backlit keys, no internal battery option). To me, the 410 sounds more like a consumer device and the 612 is a true business/professional device.

    So, the 612 could be a real winner, but at 2.22 pounds for the tablet, that may just be an arm-buster for some. You can justify the heavier weight since you're getting 12.5" of screen space. By comparison, the Surface Pro 2 weighs 2 pounds but you're only getting 10.6" of screen space. The new Surface Pro 3 weighs 1.76 pounds and provides 12" of screen space. Microsoft was able to make a thinner, larger Surface Pro 3 and reduce the weight. Impressive.

    I'm still waiting for that ideal combination of a thin, light (1 to 1.3 lbs) tablet that supports an active digitizer pen. The ThinkPad 10 may be the closest thing to that right now, but I'll continue to wait because I'm certain that someone will come out with one soon. Maybe it'll be a Windows 9 tablet.

    Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1

    Friday, June 13, 2014

    Need a small rugged tablet running Windows 8? The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 is a 7" Windows 8 tablet that is powered by an Intel Core i5 vPro processor. You can also choose a Celeron processor option. That means it will provide very fast performance in a small, durable form factor. How durable? MIL-STD-810G, 5-foot drop and all-weather IP65 dust and water resistant design. The battery can be replaced by the user and Panasonic is offering several battery options including a standard battery (8 hrs) or a long-life extended battery (16 hrs). The 7" screen is 1280x800 and will have the ability to support normal multi-touch along with gloved touch.

    Tablet computers used in the hospital environment are often dropped or mishandled (not intentionally, but emergencies do come up when patients fall or need something urgently). Having a rugged case may help protect some tablets, but using a tablet that's designed to be rugged is really the ideal.

    A 7" tablet is a really nice size for pocketability. The FZ-M1 is only 1.2 lbs so it will fit right into a while coat pocket. If you're looking for a larger rugged tablet, the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 is a 10" rugged tablet running Windows 8, but that thing weighs 2.5 lbs (with a standard battery) and it's not going to fit in your white coat pocket.  

    Surface Pro 3 vs. ThinkPad Tablet 10

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

    By now, you've heard of the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 that's replacing the current Surface Pro 2. The Surface Pro 3 is larger, thinner, and lighter than the Pro 2. It even has a redesigned hinge that makes the tablet much more functional and 9 hrs of battery life sounds very compelling given that this device is powered by an Intel Haswell processor. However, the switch away from Wacom and to an N-Trig pen has me wondering if the new tablet will suffer from digitizer and inking issues. I'm sure that N-Trig has come a long way since their earlier generation pens and technology, but I do not like the fact that the pen requires batteries (especially since AAAA batteries don't last very long and can be a bit more difficult to find).

    Although the Surface Pro 3 is improved in so many ways, the main drawbacks for me are: the N-Trig pen and the larger size. If they had stayed with Wacom, then I think it would have been a true winner. But, I don't know that they would have been able to keep the device so think and light if they had stayed with Wacom digitizer technology. The larger size is great if you need a laptop, but if you plan to carry this device around all day and use it while you're standing, then a 10" screen is sufficient and a 12" screen is too much.

    One of the other newly announced Windows 8 tablet PCs is the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 10. This is the successor to the thin, light ThinkPad Tablet 2. This time, Lenovo has created what they're calling an "Ultrabook Keyboard" that will deliver a true laptop-like experience when you're typing. One of the major drawbacks of this keyboard: the tablet sits at a single, fixed angle. At least the angle is steeper (and more functional) than the keyboard angle that we saw with its successor: the ThinkPad Tablet 2 and its Bluetooth keyboard. Lenovo has decided to stay with a 3rd generation, low-power Intel Atom processor that delivers plenty of processing capabilities while keeping the device thin and light. Lenovo has stayed with a Wacom pen for this new ThinkPad.

    There's no doubt that the ThinkPad Tablet 10 has major improvements over the ThinkPad Tablet 2. However, the major drawbacks for me include: the keyboard is not backlit and the tablet only sits on the keyboard at a fixed angle.

    Both the Surface Pro 3 and the ThinkPad Tablet 10 offer major upgrades from previous versions. Let's see what types of "real world" reviews start showing up over the next few months. By then, I'm sure that Dell, HP, Asus, and others will have some new models as well.

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