HP’s new tablet has jacket, will travel

The new ElitePad’s “Smart Jackets” add ports and a fold-out keyboard for laptop-like functionality.

Tablets are pretty nifty, with their “best of both worlds” approach to both portability and screen size. In fact, the only major issue people seem to have with the tablet form factor is the lack of ports for most of them. Sure, you can get a docking station that will give you more, but that puts a damper on the whole “mobile device” thing.

Hewlett Packard has announced its new line of tablet computers, the HP ElitePad 900. The company is touting it as a “true tablet for business,” which could also appeal to agencies that are looking to combine mobility with laptop-like functionality.

This Windows-based tablet will have a 10.1-inch capacitive touch screen, and good features such as a high-definition front-facing camera that might be used for more than video chats.

But the one thing that will set the ElitePad apart from other tablets is what HP is calling “Smart Jackets.” To get more functionality, you just slide your ElitePad into it, snap the other end in place and, voila, you have a slightly heavier tablet with a bunch of ports!

Right now, HP has only announced two kinds. The Expansion Jacket has full-size USB, HDMI and other ports as well as a supplemental battery. The Productivity Jacket has a full-function keyboard that folds out, effectively turning your ElitePad into a more traditional notebook computer. You can see a video showing how these two are attached here.

The HP ElitePad 900 is scheduled for release in the U.S. in January. We can hardly wait to see what other types of Smart Jacket HP will think of between now and then.

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