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New HP ElitePad brings Windows 8 to the enterprise

It may be the 10th-generation Windows tablet made by HP. But none previous has come close to this sleek piece of hardware that offers a touch-friendly OS

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) announced its second Windows 8-based tablet today, this one the business-targeted ElitePad 900.

Built to be a tablet that a larger enterprise or government department could deploy to its staff, the ElitePad has some impressive specs. It runs an x86 Atom Processor that’s backed up by an additional graphics chip, has 2 GB of RAM and offers up to 64 GB on a solid state disk. The body is 9.2 mm thick and it has a 10.1-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio.

The twist with this tablet is that it comes with different “smart jackets” – or basically, cases – that add capability to the tablet. One adds a keyboard and a couple of input ports, plus an SD card reader. Another adds USB inputs and an HDMI output. A dock accessory includes an HDMI port that allows the tablet’s screen to be displayed on a second monitor, or use the tablet as a second display with your PC.

It’s the second Windows 8 tablet HP has announced after the Envy X2 last month, a consumer-focused tablet. But it’s the 10th generation of Windows-based tablets that HP has made, most of them focused on business use. This one has another feature that most users won’t ever use, but will be appealing to large enterprises that manage their own hardware servicing and VARS that carry HP products.

A self-service module for the ElitePad allows the glass screen to be removed from the body to gain access to tablet components and battery. Magnetic latches that hold the screen onto the tablet’s body are disengaged in the self-service station. Using a suction cup, the glass is removed to reveal the guts of the device.

“You have the same level of serviceability you would with a notebook without having to send it back,” says Ajay Gupta, director of commercial notebook products at HP. “If it’s three years old and the battery’s no longer holding the charge that it was in the first year, you can replace the battery.”

The tablet hasn’t been priced yet, but it will be available in Canada in January 2013.