The ElitePad 900 succeeds the Slate 2, which was introduced in November last year with an older Atom tablet processor and Windows 7. The tablet was released after a rough period in which HP exited the consumer tablet business and decided to retain its PC unit after considering selling or spinning it off. This time, HP is approaching the market with caution, and is starting an extensive evaluation program for the tablet by sending it to 2,500 customers globally for testing before commercial release.
HP selected Intel's Atom processor code-named Clover Trail to run Microsoft's Windows 8, which Gupta described as a "full operating system." The OS is more relevant to the business market and fits into existing corporate infrastructures that already use thousands of Windows applications, Gupta said. The Intel chip also delivers long battery life and requires no fan, Gupta said.
"The logic is driven by application compatibility. If you have existing applications that have been formatted by a 4:3 screen size now you can use them without having to reformat them, or do any recreation or rewriting of the software code," Gupta said.
Alongside Windows 8, Microsoft will also ship Windows RT for tablets and PCs with ARM processors. A drawback of RT is it won't run existing Windows applications. HP officials did not comment on whether RT was considered for the tablet, but said all processor and OS options are continuously being evaluated.
The company will also sell an ElitePad accessory called SmartJacket, a hard-cover case with an integrated keyboard, battery, two USB ports and an SD card slot. The ElitePad 900 slots into the jacket, and provides an extra eight hours of battery life to the tablet, while adding about 1 pound (453 grams) to the overall weight.
The tablet also provides manageability and serviceability found in the company's EliteBook laptops, Gupta said.
The tablet has an HP BIOS which enables some features to be turned off when the tablet is in a specific location. The unit can also be bricked if lost or stolen, and HP is working with LANDesk on location-based services.
"If you need to do a mass update, you can do it on this unit," Gupta said.
Other features on the tablet include NFC and Bluetooth capabilities.