HP diversifies Windows tablets with ProPad launch

HP ProPad 600HP has added another line of Windows-based tablets to its lineup, introducing its first ProPad-branded product and upgrading its top-of-the-line ElitePad.

Borrowing from its laptop branding approach, where Elite- signifies the top of the line, while Pro- suggests an offering for more cost-sensitive business users, the company has dubbed its new tablet the ProPad 600.

The new tablet takes most of its design cues from its predecessor. In fact, the tablet is virtually identical to the ElitePad, using the same processor and display, and a very similar look and feel, although with different materials. The ProPad differs, though, in that it does not support HP’s “jackets” expandability approach. The ElitePad supports a variety of such jackets for the ElitePad, including an integrated keyboard case, biometric security options, additional battery packs, and even a retail POS extension with support for scanning bar codes and swiping credit cards. Instead, the ProPad features microUSB for connectivity.

“It’s the same business class feature set, but designed for a different affordability point,” said Derek Everett, director of worldwide product management for commercial Windows tablets at HP.

Joining the ProPad is an upgrade to the ElitePad, which introduces a new screen that HP says is brighter and more durable, the introduction of 4G connectivity into the company’s Windows tablets, and the company’s first 64-bit tablet architecture.

“64-bit was a really big thing for a lot of our users,” Everett said.

Unlike its new little sibling, the revised ElitePad retains compatibility with HP’s lineup of accessories. HP has been expanding that lineup recently, seeking to make its ElitePads a go-to tablet for retailers in particular. In addition to the aforementioned retail jacket, the company recently introduced the MX10 Mobile Point of Sale offering, which brings together the tablet and its Retail Expansion Dock. Everett said that docking ability helps the ElitePad bridge the gap between “linebusting” duty – getting out and pre-handling queued customers – and traditional cash register work.

The company has certainly gone farther with retail than any other vertical, and Everett said that’s because of the opportunity sees there. But he hinted that other vertically-focused and task-based expansions based on the ElitePad are under development, identifying healthcare in particular as an opportunity where a tablet-based solution fine-tuned to industry needs could make a significant impact.

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