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Hewlett-Packard – which abandoned the tablet business after the disastrous experience of its WebOS TouchPad device in August last year – has confirmed a return to the arena with yesterday’s unveiling of the H-ElitePad 900, which it describes as ” a tablet that balances a beautiful design with enterprise-grade features”.

Unlike the TouchPad, which was aimed at the consumer market and used the little-known WebOS operating system, the ElitePad is aimed squarely at the business market and will run under Windows 8.

But – unlike some other Win8 tablets due for release soon after the October 26 launch of the Microsoft system (CDN, yesterday) – the ElitePad won’t go on sale in Australia until “early 2013”, the company said. The H-P tablet supports touch-and pen-input, and has a system of optional “Smart Jackets”, which are said to give additional connectivity options including links to USB, HDMI and an external keyboard.

In basic form it weighs 680 grams. Features include a 10.1-inch touchscreen, 1080p front-facing video camera, 8MP rear camera, and an Intel processor, rather than the ARM-based chips used in most tablets, including the Windows 8 RT-powered devices being launched on October 26.

Starting price in Australia will be $899 – about twice the price of a basic Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab.

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