The Productivity Jacket provides a serviceable experience, but the quality hardly justifies HP's $200 asking price.
The HP ElitePad 900 is designed with enterprise in mind. The 10.1-inch affordable tablet offers relatively modest specs including an Intel Atom processor, 2 GB of RAM and 64 GB of eMMC internal storage. While the HP ElitePad 900 doesn't offer impressive performance or power, it does provide a great deal of flexibility.
HP is able to do this with the use of its various attachments. The HP Docking Station provides the ElitePad with a great deal of connectivity, while the Expansion Jacket adds an additional 5 hours of battery life to the device. The HP ElitePad 900 on its surface is rather bland, but with a wide array of attachments, the device is able to tackle a cornucopia of challenges.
The other HP attachments have set the bar high; can the productivity jacket meet expectations? Read the full review to find out.
The black keyboard dock is comprised of a mix of plastic and rubber and offers a clamshell design. The productivity jacket is able to fold inward (similar to a laptop) making the tablet easy to transport. Additionally, the rubber clamshell provides a snug fit ensuring that the tablet is both protected and secured in place; which is welcomed while using the tablet's touch controls.
To help further keep the display anchored the keyboard employs a set of magnets; the first magnet is located on the bottom portion of the clamshell cover, while an additional series of magnets reside within three groves located along the back portion of the attachment. The pull from the two magnets helps to secure the tablet within the desired grove, while the three groves offer a variety of possible viewing angles for the user.
The soft plastic and rubber design of the productivity jacket does raise a few durability concerns. The plastic easily bends with applied pressure, with the entire front-end of the dock flexing forward when it's held from the keyboard. Initially this may not prove to be a pressing issue, but over time that continued wear and tear could prove detrimental to the keyboard dock.
The 1.5 pound HP ElitePad 900 simply feels too heavy for the keyboard dock. With the tablet positioned towards the back-end of the device its weight distribution is completely disproportionate. This results in the tablet often moving or sliding when not on a flat surface. Normally the keyboard dock is still manageable, but it can be uncomfortable to use on your lap or while holding it.
Similar to other attachments for the HP ElitePad 900, the keyboard dock offers a fair bit of connectivity. The keyboard case offers two USB ports and a full-sized SD/MMC slot. Considering that the HP ElitePad 900 doesn't offer any industry standard built-in ports, the added connectivity is a great addition.
Unfortunately the keyboard dock doesn't offer a pointer or touchpad, meaning users will either have to use a USB-enabled mouse or opt for the tablet's touch controls.
The Chiclet style keyboard offers a flat plastic finish. Each key is smooth to the touch with minimal friction. The productivity jacket offers mediocre key-depth though there is ample room to ensure that each key has been fully compressed. Tactile feed-back is also adequate with the keys springing back into place after being struck. The keyboard is serviceable, but the lack of force form the key's pushback and tight cramped design never makes the experience comfortable.
A far more serious issue is the propensity for keys to stick. While testing the attachment the spacebar continually would stick and fail to register keystrokes. The spacebar would still read strokes when additional force was applied, but whenever I resumed my normal typing pattern the issue would arise again. While this isn't a systemic issue, it's one that certainly can disrupt the user's workflow and become a large annoyance.
The productivity jacket works, but it never feels like its adding to the user experience. The expansion jacket and HP docking station both managed to make the HP ElitePad feel like a more complete device. That isn't the case with the productivity jacket.
Instead the keyboard dock feels like an incomplete solution. With poor weight distribution and keys constantly sticking; the quality of the productivity jacket fails to meet the performance levels of most other keyboard docks.
If the productivity jacket was packaged with the device its flaws could be overlooked, but considering that it will cost users an additional $200 (at time review was written) it leaves a great deal to be desired. Personal consumers looking for the best quality device can easily find better solutions. Though the wide scale versatility of the HP ElitePad 900 may still make the productivity jacket a viable option for enterprise.
For more information be sure to check out our HP ElitePad 900 Review at TabletPCReview.com.
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