Tablets computers all look much the same. There’s not much scope for different designs when a touchscreen takes up most of the front. However, the HP ElitePad 900 display stands out from the pack because it has a 16:10 ratio screen. That makes the tablet longer and thinner than rival devices like the Apple iPad.
HP says it opted for the 16:10 ratio design because that makes it backwards compatible with laptops and desktop displays.
There’s a logic behind the decision. The ElitePad 900 uses Windows 8 and can run just about any Windows application written in the last 10 to 15 years. That makes it attractive to business users who are unwilling to invest in new hardware devices that can’t run key applications.
That 16:10 ratio means applications will use the full display – if HP opted for the same screen dimensions as the iPad, the information would appear in a small strip across the display.
In practice this doesn’t matter when using the ElitePad 900 in landscape view – the one favoured by those legacy applications. Things get a little weird when you turn the HP tablet 90 degrees into the portrait view.
Portrait view works fine for reading websites, ebooks, word documents and the like, but a surprising number of native Windows apps don’t make the transition. For example, you can only view the Windows store in landscape view.
Even when writing documents using the Word app, that Portrait view is a little odd, the text across a nominal A4 page is tiny and harder to read than attempting the same on an iPad.
In practice I find I rarely use the ElitePad 900 in portrait mode. Perhaps this isn’t important, but it does mean there’s a different experience using the ElitePad compared with doing exactly the same work on an iPad.
Ironically, this screen format works to the device’s advantage when it comes to playing movies. They look better on an ElitePad than on an iPad.
So there you have it, the legacy screen format – which is essential for users with older software – doesn’t work so well for business applications, but shines for entertainment.