IT Support and Hardware for Clinics
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IT Support and Hardware for Clinics
News, Information and Updates on Hardware and IT Tools to help improve your Medical practice
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Windows 10 likely to land at PC makers this week

Windows 10 likely to land at PC makers this week | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Microsoft keeps wending its way past the mile markers en route to getting Windows 10 out to the public on time.

The software titan is putting the finishing touches on the operating system software and will finalize its prerelease development by July 10, The Verge is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the company's plans. This version ofWindows 10, called "release to manufacturing," will then be sent to PC makers to be bundled into their products.

Windows 10, which is slated to launch on July 29, comes at a critical time for Microsoft. While Windows overall remains the dominant force in desktop operating systems, running on over 90 percent of computers worldwide, according to NetMarketShare, the last big release -- Windows 8 -- proved a marked disappointment. According to NetMarketShare, Windows 8 musters just 13 percent market share worldwide, far behind the 61 percent share for Windows 7 and just ahead the 12 percent share for the now ancient Windows XP.

The issues with Windows 8 were numerous, ranging from Microsoft's design choice, called Metro, to a steep learning curve for those used to the old days of Windows. Windows 8, which launched in 2012, also came as consumers and business users were increasingly attracted to tablets and smartphones, which typically ran either Apple's iOS software or Google's Android.

Microsoft tried to respond by offering its own tablet, the Surface, and partner with third-party tablet manufacturers. The efforts, however, have done little to kick Android and iOS from the top spots.

Realizing its own miscues and the changing market dynamics, Microsoft has tried to address its Windows 8 woes with Windows 10.

The Start button is back and the design a bit more traditional, while Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made clear that Microsoft is a "mobile-first (and cloud-first)" company that will allow for Windows 10 to run on multiple device types without sacrificing features. To boost adoption, Microsoft will offer free upgrades to customers currently running Windows 7 and Windows 8 -- a first for the company. Microsoft has even softened its stance in its longstanding battle with pirates, saying that any pirated copy of Windows can be upgraded to Windows 10 free-of-charge.

For months now, Microsoft has been offering preview versions of Windows 10 to developers and consumers who want to take the operating system for a test drive. Operating systems go through a series of "builds," or versions, during their development phase. Once the company's development team has finalized the operating system, it goes into RTM phase, which means it's ready to be passed on to hardware vendors for bundling into the PCs they sell. Assuming the report is accurate, hitting the RTM phase this week would ensure Windows 10 would be available later this month, as anticipated.

That said, while Microsoft seems to be on-pace for a July 29 launch, the company has cautioned thatthe rollout could be slow going.

Microsoft said last week that it "will start rolling out Windows 10" on July 29, but will roll out the operating system "in waves" after that date.

"Each day of the rollout, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users," the company said in a blog post. "If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system."

The blog post seems to indicate that while Windows 10 may be released to PC vendors soon, it will continue to fine-tune the operating system after the July 29 launch date.

Microsoft has yet to say when its operating system will hit the RTM phase, but in the past, the company has announced the milestone on its site. Microsoft will likely do the same with Windows 10, once it has officially gone RTM.

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Microsoft’s touch-friendly Office shows great potential for Windows 10 apps

After nearly two years of teasing, Microsoft finally released a preview version of its touch-optimized Office apps for Windows 10 yesterday. The software maker has been focusing on iOS and Android recently, having released better versions of Office for rival platforms than its own Windows Phone equivalent. That’s changing with Windows 10, and Microsoft’s loyal customers will no longer be left out in the cold. Was the long wait worth it? It looks like it. Microsoft’s new Office touch apps show great potential for Windows 10 apps as a whole.

I installed Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, after testing the new touch-optimized version of OneNote for Windows 10, and I’m impressed with the early results. After covering Microsoft for nearly 15 years, I’ve seen Office move steadily into a beast that tries to do a million things that could be greatly simplified. Some call it bloated, others call it powerful, but nobody in the industry has successfully challenged its dominance yet, so Microsoft is clearly doing something right.

These apps are blisteringly fast

Whether you think Office is bloated or not, there’s no argument to be had about these latest Office touch apps: they’re blistering fast. They feel lightweight, speedy, and really easy to use, and they’re mostly identical to Office for iPad and Android. I used to work at various investment banks, so my Office experience is extensive, but these days I only have basic document needs for keeping an eye on my finances, authoring some reports, and maybe the occasional presentation. The desktop version of Office has far too many options for someone like me, but these new apps aren’t as daunting and are simple enough and still functional to get stuff done.

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Fly Or Die: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

Fly Or Die: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet Pro 2, while long-winded in name, is pretty interesting when it comes to form and function. The kickstand-equipped tablet offers pretty standard capabilities, with a 13.3-inch (2560×1440) IPS display, an Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, and an added surprise.

The 13-inch tablet also comes with a built-in pico projector so that you can blow out movies or presentations on a nearby wall.

We brought the Yoga Tablet Pro 2 into the office for an episode of Fly Or Die, and to my shock and awe, John Biggs is impressed. He thinks the projector is a helpful addition to a tablet of this size, which could work well for travel or in-home use.

I’m not quite as wooed by the projector, which doesn’t seem to work well in anything but pure darkness, and the UI that Lenovo slapped over the Android 4.4 tablet is a bit too bare bones.

One fly and one die, meaning you’ll just have to check it for yourself.

The Yoga Tablet Pro 2 is available now for $499.

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Microsoft's Surface tablet business is booming

Microsoft's Surface tablet business is booming | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Microsoft appears to be well past the days when it was writing off unsold Surface tablets and struggling to match Sony in game console sales. The Windows developer reports that its Devices and Consumer group's revenue grew 8 percent year over year in the last calendar quarter of 2014, thanks in no small part to healthy Surface and Xbox sales. It's not revealing shipment numbers for the Surface, but it notes that revenue for the slate computers shot up 24 percent versus a year earlier, thanks in no small part to the Surface Pro 3.

The company also notes that it sold 6.6 million Xbox systems during the holidays -- down from last year, but still healthy. Microsoft unfortunately isn't breaking that down by model. However, there's no doubt the Xbox One turned a corner this fall through aggressive discounts and a better game selection -- from all indications, the new system represented a significantly larger chunk of sales. Sony was quick to say that it sold 4.1 million PlayStation 4s just during the last month of holiday shopping, so it's apparent that there was at least a fierce fight between current-generation platforms.

It's otherwise a mixed quarter for the Redmond crew. The company posted a rare net operating loss of $243 million, although you can largely chalk that up to the costs of both its massive restructuring plan and integrating Nokia's former mobile team. Windows licensing revenue is down 13 percent year-over-year thanks to both an unforgiving PC market and free Windows licenses for small devices, but that's offset by the company's continued successes in cloud efforts, such as Bing search and Azure. It also sold a respectable 10.5 million Lumia phones, turning around declines under Nokia's tenure. In short, Microsoft is still transitioning away from an old-school strategy where Windows sales reign supreme. The upcoming release of Windows 10 will undoubtedly be important, but it won't be quite as much of a make-or-break product as its ancestors.

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Is the Tablet Market In Outright Collapse? Data Suggests Yes - Slashdot

Is the Tablet Market In Outright Collapse? Data Suggests Yes - Slashdot | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Is the tablet market rapidly collapsing? Mobile-analytics firm Flurry doesn't come to quite that stark a conclusion, but things aren't looking too good for touch-screens that don't qualify as "phablets." According to Flurry's numbers, full-sized tablets accounted for only 11 percent of new devices in 2014, a decline from 2013, when that form-factor totaled 17 percent of the new-device market; small tablets experienced a smaller decline, falling from 12 percent to 11 percent of new devices between 2013 and 2014. (Meanwhile, phablets expanded from 4 percent of new devices in 2013 to 13 percent this year.) Boy Genius Report, for its part, looked at those numbers and decided that the tablet market is doomed: "Consumers happy with compact smartphones are not switching to larger iPhones for now, but former tablet buyers are." That's not to say people will stop using tablets, but the onetime theory that they would one day cannibalize all PCs looks increasingly nebulous.

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​HP Stream 11 Review: $200 and Worth Every Penny

​HP Stream 11 Review: $200 and Worth Every Penny | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

I just got finished rounding up the best Chromebooks out there, but there's more to the world of dirt-cheap computing than Google's browser-machines. The HP Stream is a $200 full-Windows laptop, and it's surprisingly good.

What Is It?

A $200 laptop from HP that runs full Windows 8. A pokey little guy with a colorful finish, a 720p screen, a dual-core Intel Bay Trail processor, and 2GB of RAM. A chance for Microsoft to take on the Chromebook. Damn good for a $200 machine.

Why Does It Matter?

There have always been cheap Windows laptops, but this Windows laptop is super cheap. At $200, the HP Stream 11 doesn't cost a penny more than the cheapest Chromebooks currently available. But unlike Chromebooks, this dirt-cheap laptop isn't handicapped by a web-browser based OS or the need for a constant internet connection. Windows 8 gives you access to way more programs than a Chromebook ever could. That is, as long as the processor can keep up.

When I first looked at the HP Stream 11, I thought it looked dumb. With its cartoony blue exterior (also available in pink!) it's a little silly-looking from the get-go, and the color gradient on the frame next to the keyboard only made it worse. But after a while, it really grew on me. Sure, it's still a little Fisher Price-y, but in a charming sort of way. Also, at $200, I'm hard pressed to complain about aesthetics.

More important than looks is build quality, and the HP Stream 11 is a solid little tyke. It's got a slightly squishy but completely typable keyboard that's even a little better than the Toshiba Chromebook 2, one of my favorite Chromebooks yet. (The $300 Acer Chromebook 14's keys are nicer, with a little more throw, but not $100 nicer if you get my drift.) There's virtually no flex to the Stream 11's keyboard tray, even if you're pushing on the frame deliberately hard. Most importantly, I don't mind typing on this thing at all. In fact, I typed about half this review on it.

The solid feel holds up elsewhere. The hinge isn't flimsy, as it can be on a lot of laptops down in this price range. The Stream doesn't have a touchscreen, so it's not like that hinge has to stand up to you poking the display, but it could if it had to. The whole thing seems like it could take a moderate beating, the kind you might subject a $200 laptop to because you don't particularly care if it survives.

It's not all sunshine and roses though: the screen is an obvious place where corners were cut. The matte 1366 x 768 display is pretty rough. It has that "bad matte screen" rainbow effect that makes whites look distorted. The screen is totally serviceable, sure, but it's more like what you might expect to find attached to a aging public terminal somewhere as opposed to attached to your laptop. Web browsing, sure. Movie watching? Not if you can avoid it.

That's just the screen's fault though; the Stream's bottom-facing speakers are surprisingly competent. With the volume turned all the way up they can be almost uncomfortably loud, and while the quality is nothing to write home about, they aren't tinny or distorted. I could actually hear the basslines in the music I tried listening to. Not bad for $200!

The touchpad, unfortunately, isn't such a pleasant surprise. It's serviceable but far from great, and not quite good. I've had more than my fair share of misclicks, like bringing up the right-click menu and having the cursor select an option seemingly of its own volition, or having the mouse drift just slightly to the right while I'm trying to click something small.

Fortunately you can avoid one or both of those things with a Bluetooth mouse and/or by using the Stream's HDMI port to hook up to a prettier monitor, though resolutions higher than the native 1366 x 768 start putting a lot more stress on the lappy's lacking guts. In addition, the Stream's also got a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port, and an SD card reader. All the bare essentials, unless you're that guy who's still keeping the optical disc companies in business.

Using the Stream is just like using any other Windows 8.1 machine, but with the caveat that you have to be prepared for plenty of stuff not to work. Chromebooks get around having low-power guts by using an OS that won't touch most of the things they can't handle (with the exception of some more sophisticated Chrome and OpenGL games).

Instead, the Stream's full Windows 8.1 basically begs you to download everything you could ever want to download, and discover on your own what won't work. The limitations are pretty obvious. PC games are pretty much out. Ditto Photoshop or anything else that's even remotely graphics intensive. But what else would you expect from a $200 machine?

That doesn't mean that full Windows is not without its huge perks. The HP Stream 11 is the cheapest laptop I've ever actually been able to get any work done on because it can run AIM clients (which are how many of us chat at Gizmodo). Spotify's dedicated streaming music app also works swimmingly. Same with the dedicated TweetDeck app and other little creature-comfort type applications. Being able to use Pidgin for chat instead of loading up some Chrome tab goes a long way towards making you feel like you're using a real computer.

The big work-draw for most people is going to be Office. Not only can the HP Stream 11 run classics like Word and Excel (and run them damn well—surprisingly silky smooth performance here) it also comes with Office 365 Personal for a year. That includes must-haves Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook among others, and includes 1TB of OneDrive storage. Those full, robust applications beat the hell out of being stuck with Google Docs like you are on a Chromebook. I found that the Stream can run every member of the suite admirably (though not at the same time), which makes it the best out-of-the-box productivity machine you can get for the price.

On the web-browsing side, the HP Stream 11 is a little more competent than your average Chromebook, which is to say it can handle its fair share of tabs. While I was testing it, I found I could noodle around in a window with some 9 or 10 tabs—even a few really heavy ones like Tweetdeck and Chartbeat—before the lag started really kicking in. Even then, I could still eke out choppy but usable performance with as many as a dozen tabs going at once. That's far from unlimited, but it's damn good for 200-dollar fare, and better performance that I've seen on any Chromebook packing anything less than a Core i3 processor.

The catch is that you pay for that performance in battery life. The Stream couldn't hit the 6-hour mark in my tests, and charted closer to five hours in my more anecdotal "I'm just gonna work on this thing for a while" sessions. You can probably stretch it some by tuning the power-settings something fierce, but at the end of the day the Stream is a half-day device, a three-quarter day device on the outside. It's good for doing a little work, sure, but if you plan to spend a whole day on the thing, you're going to need an outlet.

Manuel Reyes's curator insight, December 11, 2014 10:01 PM

I think I am going to try this one!!

Windows RT is officially dead

Windows RT is officially dead | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Microsoft was left alone as the last manufacturer of Windows RT-based tablets, and now the software giant is no longer producing any RT devices. A Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge that the company is no longer manufacturing its Nokia Lumia 2520 Windows RT tablet. "We are no longer manufacturing Nokia Lumia 2520; however, those still eager to buy Nokia Lumia 2520 should visit Microsoft Retail Stores,, third-party retailers and resellers for the latest availability." The confirmation comes just a week after Microsoft revealed it has stopped manufacturing the Surface 2, another Windows RT tablet.

While Lenovo, Asus, Samsung, and Dell backed Windows RT initially, all of the tablet makers pulled out due to slow sales and a lack of interest from consumers. It appears that Microsoft’s experiment with ARM-based tablets has largely failed in a tablet market that is starting to show signs of slowing down. A lack of touch-based apps, a confusing desktop mode, and odd naming made Windows RT a bizarre trial for Microsoft. Most PC makers have opted for Intel-based chips in 7- and 8-inch Windows tablets recently.

All eyes are now on Windows 10. Microsoft has shown some features of Windows 10 for phones, but it’s not clear if we’ll see 7- and 8-inch ARM-based Windows 10 devices. A preview version of Windows 10 for tablets is designed for 8-inch devices and above, and Microsoft is not commenting on its plans for future ARM-based tablets. With Surface 2 dead and Surface revenue improving thanks to stronger Surface Pro 3 sales, it’s clear Microsoft is now focused on its "professional" Intel-based tablet. Windows RT is now a distant memory.

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The tablet market is in serious trouble

The tablet market is in serious trouble | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

The iPad isn't the only tablet that's not selling as fast as it used to: According to new data from market firm IDC charted for us by BI Intelligence, global tablet shipments were down about 3% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2014 — the first ever market decline for the tablet in any quarter since IDC started keeping track.

For the full year 2014, tablet shipments totaled about 233 million — growing about 8% from 2013 — but the biggest tablet makers saw significant declines in year-over-year shipments, including Apple (down 18%), Samsung (down 22%), and Amazon (down 70%).

It's particularly troubling that the tablet market's first decline came during the holiday quarter, which is generally when most tablets are sold. The tablet's decline has been associated with many possible factors, including bigger phones, the growth of low-priced "generic" tablets, and the fact that people don't replace them as often as phones.

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Dell’s Venue 8 7000: A striking tablet that falls short of greatness

Dell’s Venue 8 7000: A striking tablet that falls short of greatness | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Dig out a piece of paper and a pencil and draw a generic tablet. It doesn't need to be any particular tablet, just imagine what you'd see if you walked into a Best Buy and started browsing.

Chances are, you drew a rectangle shape with a screen and symmetrical bezels all the way around it, and that's exactly what you get from most tablets. Smartphones and tablets tend to be dominated by their screens, and while OEMs can do a certain amount to give their tablets a unique feel, most of them look the same when you boil the device down to its most basic design elements.

The most interesting thing about Dell's Venue 8 7000 (or 7840, whatever it is you want to call it) is that it doesn't follow this design playbook. Instead of using conventional bezels, Dell's newest Android tablet has an 8.4-inch screen that extends nearly to the edges on three sides, with a larger "chin" at the bottom to serve as a handle and to house the speaker, webcam, and other components. If it resembles anything, it's Sharp's Aquos Crystal phones—both buck smartphone and tablet design conventions in a similar way.

When we picked up the Venue, we were primarily interested in seeing how its unique design worked for day-to-day use. We've also run it through our standard battery of tests—there's no point in dropping $400 on something that looks cool if the battery life and performance aren't there. Are the insides as pretty as the outside, and how does it stack up to other tablets in the same price range?

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This Is Windows 10’s New Web Browser and Dark Theme

This Is Windows 10’s New Web Browser and Dark Theme | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Microsoft is preparing to unveil a new browser in Windows 10, code-named Spartan, and leaked images are providing an early glimpse at the Internet Explorer successor. Chinese site Cnbeta has published screenshots showing the simple interface of Spartan and the Cortana digital assistant integration. The Verge revealed yesterday that Spartan will include digital inking support to share and annotate webpages, and deep Cortana integration in the address bar and throughout the browser.

Cnbeta’s screenshots also reveal Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 user interface. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Windows plans tell The Verge that the company is planning to build light and dark themes with color accents for Windows 10. The look and feel will be similar to that of the existing user interface for Windows Phone, and these leaked screenshots provide an early look at an internal Microsoft concept and the aim for the final UI. They do not represent the final interface, as Microsoft will be tweaking it a number of times over the coming months. Some of these user interface changes have started appearing in recent builds of Windows 10, with the new dark taskbar surfacing in a leaked version last month. Microsoft is also tweaking its built-in apps to match the new color schemes, with a new Xbox app that hints at what the company is planning for the final version of Windows 10.

Microsoft is expected to unveil these user interface changes and a mobile version of Windows 10 for tablets and phones at a press event on Jan. 21. The software maker will also likely detail its plans for the Spartan browser across PCs, phones, and tablets.

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Apple's Next Macbook Air Detailed | Computer Hardware Reviews -

Apple's Next Macbook Air Detailed | Computer Hardware Reviews - | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Apple will be refreshing their popular Macbook Air very soon. The new Macbook Air will have a 12-inch screen, and we have heard the rumors as we are sure you have of a retina screen. No word yet on that, but we also have details on other aspects of the hardware inside the next Macbook Air.

The next Macbook Air will feature Intel’s latest Core M “Broadwell-U” SoC that combines a dual-core “Broadwell” CPU with graphics, has a dual-channel DDR3L IMC, and system agent all within a single chip. It will have an overall TDP of only 15W. Apple is also working on a new fanless cooling system for the chip. The other big upgrade will be the introduction of the USB 3.1 port. USB 3.1 doubles the bandwidth to 10 Gbps and has better power delivery that will allow you to charge your portable devices faster.

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HP ElitePad 1000 G2 Windows 8.1 Tablet Review: Faster, better, still rugged

HP ElitePad 1000 G2 Windows 8.1 Tablet Review: Faster, better, still rugged | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Make it better and they will come. That’s a common vendor mantra, but rarely are the improvements as compelling as those on HP’s $800, 10.1-inch ElitePad 1000 business tablet. The successor to the ElitePad 900 replaces the single-core Intel Atom Z2760 with a significantly faster quad-core Intel Atom Z3795 CPU, features a higher-resolution display (1920x1200 versus 1280x800), and has twice the memory at 4GB. Those adds alleviate just about every complaint we had about the ElitePad 900—without killing what we liked about it. Even the battery life has improved.

Part of what we already appreciated are the rugged Gorilla Glass 3 covering the display and the milled aluminum edge and backplate. The ElitePad 1000 is designed to meet the MIL-STD810G (military) standard, though I doubt it would last long in my god-daughter’s backpack. Kidding—even she would have a hard time dinging this thing.

While the ElitePad 1000’s display looks great during everyday use and rendering movies, I noted uneven backlighting around the edges when the ElitePad 1000 was powering up. It’s noticeable only with a solid-dark background, and I quickly forgot about it. But 2.3 million pixels in only 10.1 inches of diagonal display space makes for some rather tiny icons, text, and window elements. I goosed them up all the way using the “change the size of all items” slider, but I finally had to resort to increasing the text size for individual elements.

If you want semi-rugged, accept that your tablet is going to be a bit heavier than the norm—a small price to pay for survival on the road. At 1.5 pounds, the ElitePad 1000 is an ounce or two heavier than the 900, but still relatively easy to carry around. It’s a little too heavy to hold single-handed for any length of time. With both hands, arm fatigue is minimal, but it’s best propped up on your stomach or docked.

Subjectively, Windows 8.1 feels lively enough on the ElitePad 1000—at no time did I feel impatient waiting for windows to open or files to save. The PCMark results bore out that impression: 1595 on the creative test, 2399 on the work test. Battery life clocked in at a cool 8 hours and 16 minutes. It also handles 1080p video with aplomb, playing my 30GB rip of Master and Commander with nary a hitch. 

When you start to accessorize any tablet to this degree, you have to ask yourself why you’re buying a tablet rather than a laptop.

Wireless connectivity on the ElitePad 1000 includes 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, and broadband modules. While 802.11ac would be nice, 802.11n is acceptable.

Alas, when it comes to physical ports, the unit is hurting. A headset jack, MicroSD and SIM card slots hide behind a panel that pops open when you press the recessed release button with a paper clip. That’s it. There are, however, a variety of accessories to compensate. Slide the unit into the optional $149 ElitePad Docking Station and you have four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and VGA out, as well as an audio line out. It’s a bit bulky, but it’s nice to have around.

You may also opt for the smaller $49 HDMI/VGA dongle, $39 ethernet adapter, and $29 USB adapter, which are easier to pack, if not as convenient. There’s also a $249 productivity jacket with a full-size keyboard, USB ports etc. and a $149 battery jacket that will ratchet up runtime to about 20 hours. However, both add considerably to the ElitePad 1000’s 0.36-inch thickness and weight. When you start to accessorize any tablet to this degree, you have to ask yourself why exactly you’re buying a tablet rather than a laptop.

Storage also continues to be a problem. Our unit came with a 64GB in eMMC which is probably the bare minimum for even a business-class tablet in terms of space. Fortunately, HP sells a model with 128GB too.

Oddly, after touting the ElitePad 1000’s ruggedness, HP’s warranty for it lasts only a single year. A variety of paid support plans to add up to five years of protection. The ElitePad 1000 is also fully decked out with HP’s business-targeted software bundle, which includes Trust Circles, Client Security Manager, and Device Access Manager.

It doesn’t get much better than the ElitePad 1000 in a Windows 8.1 business tablet, and kudos to HP for improving what needed to be improved without drastically increasing the weight. It’s fast enough, lasts long enough, and has a capable set of accessories.

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