Timing is critical for launching a product. On the other hand, a company has to have all its preparations in place before it ventures in. This is especially so if the product is being pitched against well-entrentched competitors.
So, apparently the time is right for the world’s largest computer manufacturer, Hewlett-Packard (HP), to foray into the tablet market with its ElitePad900, to take on Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, and the not-so-old Google Nexus --- apart from a plethora of offerings at all points in the price spectrum.
A frontal challenge from established firm
HP has stuck to the big trend in screen size: the ElitePad has a 10.1” screen with a 1,280 X 800 pixel display, which while not quite in the same league as Apple’s retina display, is high definition enough to be getting on with.
True to HP’s catch line of “HP recommends Windows”, the tablet operates on Windows8 professional, which is literally an extension of the Windows operating system that can be termed the backbone of personal computers.
The HP ElitePad 900 is powered by a 1.8 GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of internal memory.
The front camera is an 8 mega pixel affair, which gets the job done decently and can do 1,080-pixel HD video conferencing. In low light conditions, though, the still images tend to turn grainy.
It offers wi-fi and micro-SIM based 3G-based cellular connectivity. The tablet also connects easily with the dongle-based broadband connections.
The 32GB memory can be expanded with a microSD card. The battery promises 9 hours of operating time, which may vary depending upon your usage.
Now, the big rub. There is no USB slot on the device. Considering that it comes from a computer maker, and is running on Windows, that came as a big let-down as this means linking up with your old desktop or laptop may be a chore.
HP’s solution to this comes in the form of two expansion jackets that it claims can transform the tablet to suit any situation. The first one sports two USB ports, an HDMI port and a SD/MMC card reader.
The jacket can also accommodate an extra battery that has to be purchased separately, which would double the running time of the tablet.
Don’t hold the jacket by the top edge, though: the tablet may slip out, as there is no snap-to fitting.
The other jacket, which it calls productivity jacket, has a keyboard and acts as a case for the device as well. This jacket too has 2 USB ports, an SD/MMC card reader and the tablet’s proprietary charging port.
Both jackets have soft rubberised texture and are comfortable to hold. The productivity jacket makes the tablet a good tablet replacement -- if you want to get into that territory.
Another bit of hardware with ElitePad900 is a docking station that offers four USB ports, an ethernet port, an HDMI port and a VGA port.
Slide it on the docking station, and ElitePad 900 turns into a 10.1” monitor that along with a wireless keyboard can offer complete desktop experience.
The catch is that the dock is a wired charger, so it cannot be if there is no power outlet handy.
The other factor, of course, is the price. The basic tablet costs Rs. 43,500, and the jackets cost Rs. 6,999 each.
The docking station costs Rs. 9,999. That is a cool Rs. 17,000 extra, if you buy just the dock and one jacket. Would it attract the price-sensitive Indian consumer? That is a big question.