HP Releases Retail Jacket For ElitePad

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Hewlett-Packard Monday provided a retail market makeover to its ElitePad with a retail jacket that transforms the tablet into a point-of-sale (POS) device.

HP made the announcement of the first retail jacket for its Windows 8 Pro-based ElitePad 900, referred to as the ElitePad Mobile Point of Sale (POS) Solution, at its Discover conference, its premier conference for information technology buyers and technical professionals that runs through Thursday in Las Vegas.

The retail jacket is a seamless sleeve that outfits the ElitePad with a 1-D/2-D imaging barcode scanner, a three-track bi-directional magnetic strip reader, a USB port and an optional secondary battery that, combined, provides 20-hour battery life for the product. Pricing for the product, which begins shipping to customers Sept. 21, has not yet been finalized.

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HP partners said the new retail sleeve is just the kind of jacket add-on that showcases the vertical market return on investment for the HP ElitePad tablet. They said the retail jacket translates into big market opportunities for them in retail and hospitality environments.

Rick Chernick, the CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point, a Green Bay, Wis.-based HP partner, said he sees the retail jacket as one more big win for a product that he says is perfectly suited to all kinds of rugged vertical market specialty solution areas, including the insurance industry. "My guys are raving about the ElitePad," he said. "We have a number of customers testing it now."

HP Director of Product Management for Retail Joanne Bugos said the product design is "sleek enough, yet sturdy enough to stand up in the retail environment. The jacket is a wonderful balance between the hard, rugged, big clunky-type solutions versus the smaller, unprotected solution."

The ergonomic benefits of the new product include a handstrap that slips on the back of the jacket and can be adjusted for either a right-handed or left-handed user. HP also offers a shoulder sling for the ElitePad, said Bugos.

Ray Carlin, the vice president and general manager of retail solutions who joined HP to build up its retail business four years ago, said he views the sleek, integrated retail jacket tablet as a big breakthrough over third-party add-ons to other tablets. "This is a much more highly integrated piece of hardware," he said.

Another big advantage is that the Windows 8 Pro offering fits well into the retail environments where Windows dominates the market, said Carlin. "It really allows the retailer to have a single software solution," he said.

The new ElitePad retail jacket fits nicely into HP's "seamless store experience" aimed at allowing retailers to take advantage of the breadth and depth of HP's broad product and services portfolio, said Carlin. "We've become a leader in this [retail point of sale] space over the last several years," he said. "We think the tablet is a natural extension of the overall strategy, and it is part of the advantage that HP has in terms of offering retail-specific products along with server and thin client products. We can offer the retailer a full range of devices that can be used in today's retailing environment."


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