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Hewlett-Packard's ElitePad 900 won't be available until January, but HP is offering indications of how it plans to use it to dethrone Apple's iPad as the tablet of choice in the enterprise.
Out of the box, the iPad is not a particularly rugged device. Without some sort of protective cover, dropping it from more than a few feet will more often than not result in an unplanned trip to the nearest Apple store.
HP sees this as an opportunity. Its ElitePad 900, unveiled Monday, features "military-grade durability" and has undergone MIL-STD-810G testing for drops, vibration, dust, temperature extremes and high altitude, HP said in a press release.
HP says it used preproduction models of the ElitePad 900 during its testing, which included dropping the ElitePad 900 from 30 inches onto every side, angle and edge onto two inches of plywood over steel over concrete. However, HP says its testing wasn't designed for military use or Department of Defense contracts.
Unlike the iPad, the ElitePad 900 comes with a removable cover that lets partners service the device and expand its features for use in vertically oriented business environments. HP is also touting its line of "jackets," protective covers that add various PC-like features and functionality.
HP's ElitePad Productivity Jacket comes with an integrated keyboard, connectivity ports and an SD card reader; the ElitePad Expansion Jacket includes USB and HDMI ports; and the ElitePad Rugged Case adds "military-grade reliability," according to HP.
Security and management are often cited as areas in which the iPad's invasion of the enterprise is creating headaches for IT departments. HP, as it did with the WebOS TouchPad, is presenting these as areas of strength in the ElitePad 900.
Mont Phelps, CEO of NWN, an HP partner headquartered in Waltham, Mass., believes compatibility with Windows and other infrastructure could help the ElitePad 900 lure customers away from their iPads.
"Apple has workarounds in most situations, but the iPad is still a challenge to deploy, operate and manage. A competitive unit with full functionality and a competitive price should gain some market share," Phelps told CRN.