Look Out, Surface: HP Unleashes Elite x2 And Business Android Tablets

Hewlett-Packard Tuesday unleashed a business mobility product barrage topped by a Windows Surface Pro 3 competitor, the Elite x2 1011 G1, and HP's first Android business tablets.

The product blitz, which increases HP's business mobility product lineup from two to 11 offerings, comes just seven months after the company established a new commercial mobility and software business unit with its own P&L.

Solution providers said they were impressed by the devices' rugged commercial design, innovative features for business users, and aggressive pricing.

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[Related: HP Product Blitz: Microsoft Surface Competitor, Android Tablets And More]

"We are being very aggressive to make a statement," said HP Vice President Of Commercial Mobility and Software Michael Park in an interview with CRN. "We wanted to create attractive enough pricing to get people interested in it. We are hoping the channel will pick it up and really drive it for us."

HP partners said they expect the new business mobility products to drive market-share gains for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company. Partners were particularly impressed by the Elite x2 1011 G1, an 11.6-inch diagonal device designed for road warriors. The Elite x2, priced starting at $899, competes directly with Microsoft's Surface Pro 3.

HP also unveiled its first business-based Android tablets: the rugged HP Pro Slate 12 tablet, a 12-inch diagonal display with a 4:3 screen ratio priced starting at $569; and the 8-inch diagonal display Pro Slate 8, priced starting at $449.

In the Windows business tablet segment, HP introduced the ultrathin, 8-inch diagonal HP Pro Tablet 408 G1. Priced starting at $299, the product runs Windows 8 Pro, includes data encryption, 64 GB of storage and a high-resolution 1,280 x 800 display.

Solution providers said they see the HP Elite x2 potentially taking share from Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. The HP Elite x2 includes Intel's Broadwell M chip set, allowing it to run without a fan. That's a major competitive advantage over the 12-inch Surface Pro 3, which uses the Intel Core i3 chip and is priced starting at $799.

The HP Elite x2 is designed for the business traveler and features an optional travel keyboard that includes a battery pack for 10.5 hours of battery life.

"There is no question the Elite x2 will take share away from Surface Pro 3, which has heat and fan challenges," said Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, No. 234 on the CRN Solution Provider 500. "It's good to see HP pushing the mobility envelope against Microsoft with the 2-in-1. This product gives VARs the flexibility to sell it into both the corporate market and vertical markets."

Venero said he has found plenty of alternatives to Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which is only being sold by just 20 solution providers after more than two years on the market. "We have found it fairly easy to beat up the Surface Pro 3," said Venero, who also has found success selling Dell's 13-inch diagonal Latitude 2-in-1, based on the Intel Core M processor and priced starting at $1,199. "HP had been missing out on the business market and now they are showing product leadership, investment and creativity," he said.

HP also teamed with Intel on a new wireless docking station for the HP Elite x2. Unlike other standard wireless docking stations, the HP model allows users to connect to multiple devices. For example, users in a conference room can connect wirelessly to multiple pairings by tapping the connecting device.

NEXT: HP Getting Back To Its Roots

Jed Ayres, chief marketing officer for MCPc, a $262 million Cleveland-based national solution provider ranked No. 89 on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list, said he sees the new ultra-aggressive business mobility lineup as disruptive to rivals. He said the portfolio, including accessories, is a sign of an increasingly more competitive HP as it prepares to split into two companies effective Nov. 1: a printer and PC company, HP Inc., and an enterprise infrastructure, software and services company, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.

"You can already see HP being more agile and aggressive responding to the demands of the market now that it is splitting into two companies," he said. "What we are seeing is some of the commercialization of the technology that has been in the labs. HP is getting back to its roots as an innovative product company. I expect to see more of this not only with tablets, laptops and desktops but also in the enterprise market."

MCPc split into two separate businesses, a PC and enterprise data center business, last summer even before the HP split. Ayres said the move has created much tighter collaboration and teaming with HP and more focus for the sales reps. "It's refreshing to see," he said. "Instead of trying to force a wide portfolio on reps, we are now able to focus on a much smaller spectrum of value that is easier for the customer to digest. You are going to see some pretty remarkable results from the alignment and speed with which we can both move together."

Other new products in HP's portfolio include the HP ElitePad 1000 G2 Healthcare Tablet, priced starting at $1,499, which runs Cerner's medical application and includes a 2-D bar-code reader to validate patient medication and data; the HP ElitePad 1000 G2 Rugged Tablet, a waterproof product priced at $1,499 that can handle up to a 7-foot drop; and the HP Pro Slate 10 EE (Education Edition) Android and Windows tablets, priced starting at $279 and $299, respectively, and featuring a full suite of education software for students and teachers.

The new offerings are just the start of HP's drive to redefine the business mobility experience, said HP's Park. "We are totally focused on business customer experiences," he said. "We are not taking a spray-and-pray approach trying to cover the entire market. We are very focused on use cases and then using the inside of those use cases to create great products that are differentiated by the fact they are created for business."