SF Gate – Hewlett-Packard, which recently introduced a hybrid tablet-laptop in its efforts to compete with Apple‘s iPad, plans to sell a regular tablet for business customers.
The HP ElitePad 900, to be introduced Monday, is designed to work with Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system.
The 10.1-inch device is also designed to work with optional Smart Jackets that can also serve as a cover, keyboard, extra battery pack and docking port.
“This has really been designed from a business point of view,” said Ajay Gupta, HP’s commercial notebook products director, during a press preview. “We believe this is the baseline for all tablets that are going to be launched.”
HP is playing catch-up in what has become a robust tablet computing market led by the iPad and devices that run on Google’s Android operating system. The Palo Alto company seemed to concede the race after discontinuing its brief production of the HP TouchPad in the summer of 2011.
In August, HP introduced the Envy X2, a laptop that can be converted to a tablet by popping off the screen. But the ElitePad 900 is a full-on tablet that is 9.2 millimeters thick and weighs 1.5 pounds.
The company also tried to make the tablet stylish, with a machined-aluminum back and a Gorilla Glass 2 front.
“This is something we believe people will be glad to carry,” Gupta said.
The Smart Jackets are part of an “ecosystem” of accessories HP hopes will be a selling point for the ElitePad 900, especially among information technology managers.
These covers add extra ports and batteries and will evolve over time to meet the needs of specific industries, such as health care or retail, Gupta said.
At the press preview, company officials said the ElitePad 900 might be priced in the $700 range but later said prices have not been determined. The tablet is not scheduled to go on sale until January.