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HP announces the ElitePad 900, a business-friendly Windows 8 tablet arriving in January

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Remember those hazy days of summer when HP ran an ad during the Olympics, slipped in a a shot of an unannounced tablet and thought we wouldn't notice? (P'shaw!) Well, you can finally lay your speculation to rest, as HP just formally unveiled the mystery tab, along with a slew of accessories. It's called the ElitePad 900 and, as rumored, it's a 10-inch Windows 8 slate meant for business users, with features like pen input, drive encryption and optional 3G / 4G.

Like HP's high-end EliteBook laptops, the ElitePad has a premium look, marked by a machined aluminum back cover and 400-nit IPS display coated in Gorilla Glass. Also similar to the EliteBooks, it meets the military's MIL-spec 810G durability requirements, and can withstand three-foot drops, among other accidents. All told, it weighs 1.5 pounds and measures 9.2mm thick. Going by weight, that's more along the lines of what you'd expect from a larger, 11-inch tablet, but 1.5 pounds is still manageable, especially considering how armored this thing is.

On the inside, it runs an Atom-based Intel Clover Trail processor, buffered by up to 2GB of RAM. Like so many other systems with this kind of chip, it promises about 10 hours of runtime -- a clear improvement over similar devices packing Core i5 CPUs. Storage-wise, you'll have your choice between a 32 or 64GB SSD eMMC. The screen has a resolution of 1,280 x 800, making it the one feature likely to disappoint power users. Take a tour around the device and you'll find an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1080p shooter up front for video chats. Hidden behind a service door on the back are two slots: one for microSD cards, and another for 3G / 4G SIMs.

And how 'bout those accessories? In addition to the tablet, HP will be selling two so-called SmartJackets, cases that do a little more than just shield the device from wear and tear. One of them, for instance, has two USB ports, HDMI output, a full-size memory card slot and room for an optional battery slice. That battery, by the way, has a capacity of about eight hours, so while the case does add some heft it could be worth it if you need a PC that will last through a flight from New York to Tokyo. As for the second case, its defining feature is a built-in keyboard, which plugs directly into the tablet.

Though HP announced the ElitePad 900 today, the tablet won't go on sale here in the US until January. Hopefully we'll also get a final price as we get closer to that launch date. Luckily, we've already gotten a chance to play with it, so meet us after the break for hands-on photos and a short walk-through video detailing our first impressions.

Gallery: HP ElitePad 900 hands-on | 22 Photos

Gallery: HP SmartJackets hands-on | 12 Photos

Gallery: HP ElitePad 900 | 21 Photos


Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.

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