Microsoft's Windows 8 has inspired a slew of hybrid laptop designs, but the most seemingly practical approach is the swivel hinge. HP is doubling down on this design with the EliteBook Revolve 810 G2 for business users, announced during HP Discover 2013 (opens in new tab) in Barcelona, Spain.
Little, if anything, is different about the EliteBook Revolve's design. The big picture here is what HP has changed on the inside of this convertible laptop. Intel's Haswell has become the de facto standard chip, and the EliteBook Revolve follows suit.
Design and specifications
Users will still enjoy the sturdy and attractive magnesium alloy shell and Gorilla Glass screen covering the 11.6-inch, anti-glare UWVA LCD. However, that the panel on the EliteBook Revolve is still set to 1366 x 768 resolution is a bummer, especially considering the $1,364US/$1,499EU starting price. (We're still waiting on UK pricing and availability.) Competing convertible laptops, like Lenovo's ThinkPad Yoga, come sporting 1080p for the same or less.
Of course, the swivel-hinged screen is the star of the show, transforming this 22.2mm thin and 1400g laptop into a Windows 8 Pro-equipped tablet at a moment's notice. HP includes a hefty stylus with every EliteBook Revolve. During our brief time with the stylus, it proved accurate, and the screen was more than snappy and responsive enough to the index finger. What's worse is that there is still nowhere to store the stylus on the device -- we'd trade this in for a smaller pen if it meant room to store it in the chassis after use.
As for the ultimate input, HP's spill-resistant, backlit (optional) chiclet keyboard remains unchanged, with a clever drain system to get rid of moisture quickly. In a quick test, we noticed a bit of flex in the center of the keyboard, but nothing that would be noticeable in everyday use. The single-button touchpad remains the same as well, and all the standard Windows 8 gestures worked swimmingly.
But again, what this EliteBook Revolve revision is all about is the inside. Business folk should be excited that the second generation can house up to a dual-core, 2.1GHz Intel Core i7 4600U CPU with Intel HD Graphics 4400. Backing that are up to a whopping 12GB of DDR3 RAM at 1,600MHz and an SSD as spacious as 256GB. The priciest configuration would make for one seriously snappy convertible laptop, but would surely be overkill.
Rounding out those specs are 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0 as an option. A 4G LTE radio is also on offer, if you're willing to pay extra. And HP brought its A-game when it comes to I/O, with two USB 3.0 (one with charging capability), an RJ-45 port, DisplayPort, headphone/microphone combo jack, a side docking connector and a microSD card reader.
Spin me right round
The swivel-hinge approach to the hybrid laptop design is one of the more elegant solutions around for the form factor. It's easy to appreciate the disappearing keyboard without having to detach and put it down somewhere else. The super responsive, capacitive multitouch screen certainly helps the EliteBook Revolve make its case as a tablet, too.
That said, the swivel hinge still fails to solve the dilemma all convertible laptops face: While 22.2mm and 1400g make for quite a thin and light laptop, it makes for a rather plump tablet. A thinner stylus that you could store within the convertible laptop shell would be helpful, especially to creative professionals. But we're already talking about a rather small audience that might already be using Wacom tablets in the office and iPads on the go.
The HP EliteBook Revolve 810 G2 takes the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," to heart -- perhaps a little too close. Little has changed here in terms of design, and that's a good thing, though it still doesn't surmount hybrid laptops' biggest hurdle.
Aside from hopping onto Haswell and adding room for tons of RAM, this convertible laptop hasn't changed enough on the inside, either. A sharper display would help the EliteBook Revolve catch up with the full HD competition at the very least. We'll see whether this hybrid laptop stacks up regardless in our full review.