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HP ElitePad 900 takes on enterprise tablets with a sturdy chassis and 'smart jackets'

HP ElitePad 900 takes on enterprise tablets with a sturdy chassis and 'smart jackets'

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HP ElitePad Lead
HP ElitePad Lead

The HP ElitePad 900 might seem a bit familiar — it's the mystery device that snuck its way into a few HP commercials over the last few months. It's a sturdy 10.1-inch tablet, wrapped in an aluminum chassis with a Gorilla Glass display. The simple silver body is interrupted by a black plastic band running along the top edge that makes way for wireless radios and NFC. At 1.5 pounds the ElitePad sidles up alongside Dell's Latitude 10, but lacks that device's removable battery. The screen is appreciably bright with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution and generous viewing angles, but reflections were an issue in the venue's admittedly harsh fluorescent lighting.

HP ElitePad 900 hands-on photos


Still no data on Clover Trail performance

The tablet is powered by an Intel Clover Trail processor, accompanied by 2GB of RAM and up to 64GB of SSD storage. Poking around on Windows 8 was smooth on the pre-production hardware, but we didn't have an opportunity to run concerted benchmarks or tests on the CPU — real world performance remains to be seen. A 1080p camera sits on the front of the device, while an 8-megapixel shooter faces out on the rear. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are joined by mobile broadband and NFC. The tablet also packs an accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, and a light sensor. There's only a single Micro SD card slot; HP will bundle a USB adapter with the tablet, but the lack of even a single USB port on a tablet built for business may be a deal breaker for some.

HP ElitePad 900 official photos


Plenty of (optional) extras

HP will be offering a number of accessories in a bid to squeeze some extra utility out of the ElitePad. There will be a docking station, made of a soft, rubbery material. It isn't as impressive as the hunk of metal Dell's offering for the Latitude 10, but the dock is light and offers a lock slot, four USB ports, HDMI and VGA connectors, a line-out jack and Gigabit Ethernet.

Of special note are the smart jackets, faux-cases that add a bit of extra functionality to the tablet. One example bakes USB ports, a card reader, an HDMI port and a removable battery into a plastic shell that the ElitePad 900 can slide into, adding about a pound to the total package. Another jacket serves as a clamshell case, adding a keyboard. HP told us they'll be releasing more smart jackets after launch to address particular industry usage models.

HP ElitePad 900 'smart jacket' photos


Enterprise support will come in the form of tools designed to protect the BIOS and and encrypt the hard drive, but HP is largely relying on its pre-existing suite of enterprise-friendly software and compatibility with legacy Windows apps. The ElitePad 900 is scheduled to arrive sometime in January, but there's no word on pricing and will announce pricing for the entire ElitePad ecosystem closer to the release date.