A long time ago, laptops used to very occasionally convert into tablets but we never made a big deal out of it. They had rotating screens and touch, and were business-oriented. The problem back then was that these laptops weren't particularly useful most of the time unless you had specific applications in mind.
One year into Windows 8, tablet-laptop hybrids are a dime a dozen. But the HP EliteBook Revolve 810 feels like a new spin on that old swivel-top design. It has plenty of company already, several examples of which are from Lenovo: the IdeaPad Yoga 11S, the ThinkPad Helix, and the ThinkPad Twist, the Twist being a very similar product to the Revolve in many ways with its own swivel-screen design.
Also, there's the problem of price: the EliteBook Revolve starts at $1,249 and our review configuration with 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) and Core i5 CPU costs a princely $1,449. When Apple's latest products undercut yours, you have a problem. And that ThinkPad Twist we mentioned just before starts at $849 ($899 as reviewed). The Revolve's higher price, albeit with an SSD, is hard to swallow, even with its Gorilla Glass 2-covered touch screen and vPro processor. Finally, there's the battery life: a disappointing sub-5-hour score on our tests means it's operating out of touch with the current PC landscape.
I liked the Revolve a lot at CES in January, but it's July now. An updated Haswell processor (with better battery life) and a lower starting price seem necessary, at minimum, to shoot the Revolve back into position as something I'd recommend. Right now, it's a good, sturdy little laptop that's just too little, too late; if it happens to make its way into your office's selection of business laptop upgrades, however, you won't be disappointed with how nice it feels. You'll just wish it had better battery life.
|HP EliteBook Revolve 810||Lenovo ThinkPad Helix||Sony Vaio Pro 11||Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S|
|Display size/resolution||11.6-inch, 1,366x768 touch screen||11.6-inch, 1,920x1,080 touch screen||11.6-inch, 1,920x1,080 touch screen||11.6-inch, 1,366x768 touch screen|
|PC CPU||1.9GHz Intel Core i5-3437U||1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3427U||1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U||1.5GHz Intel Core i5-3339Y|
|PC memory||4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz||4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz||4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz||8,192MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz|
|Graphics||32MB Intel HD Graphics 4000||32MB Intel HD Graphics 4000||1,748MB Intel HD Graphics 4400||32MB Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Storage||128GB solid-state drive||128GB solid-state drive||128GB solid-state drive||256GB solid-state drive|
|Networking||802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0||802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0||802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0||802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||Windows 8 Pro (64-bit)||Windows 8 (64-bit)||Windows 8 (64-bit)||Windows 8 (64-bit)|
I remember the HP Folio 13 fondly: it was a compact business ultrabook that felt rock-solid and surprisingly comfortable. The EliteBook Revolve isn't the Folio reborn, but it has a bit of that feel in a smaller 11.6-inch laptop. It also happens to transform into a multitouch tablet, unlike other hybrids that are more like tablets that add separate keyboards to pretend to be laptops. The HP ElitePad 900 is an example of an Atom-powered tablet with laptoplike extras; the EliteBook Revolve 810, on the other hand, is a more expensive, ultrabook-level performance device on par with the Surface Pro and a host of other laptops like the Yoga 11S and the ThinkPad Twist and Helix.
The Revolve is clearly a laptop that can pretend to be a tablet. It's nice-feeling all around. "Nice" being the operative word. Not mind-blowing, not supersexy. It still looks like IT department-issued equipment, but sports a clean-cut industrial profile.
A soft-touch business-rugged magnesium alloy frame is designed to take a mild licking, and indeed, the Revolve has been tested by HP for vibration, drop, dust, and temperature extremes, but it's not intended to be a true super-rugged machine. We didn't specifically test durability, but it's more solid-feeling than most laptops.
The Revolve, true to its name, has a screen with a center hinge that spins around, enabling the screen to flip over as the laptop is folded up so the whole package becomes a tablet. This is an old-fashioned idea: many pre-Windows 8 tablet laptops employed the same concept. It's a little more complex than the easy-fold hinge on the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, but it does make for very easy screen adjustment when planted on a table, for situations where you'd spin the display around to show a client or you want to watch movies without having the keyboard in the way. The hinge usually maintains position and opens smoothly, but it didn't always hold still when the base was shuffled around quickly. Swiveling the screen around into tablet mode is equally satisfying when it's used as a handheld device or as a kiosklike touch-screen-on-a-laptop-base.
Because the Revolve is a smaller laptop, the palm rest and touch-pad zones are sized down a little. But the backlit keyboard has been largely uncompromised, with solid, square keys going edge to edge without any needless cramping or extra keys. Key travel is deeper and better than on many ultrabooks. The spill-resistant keyboard has drains on the bottom tray for funneling away liquid, too. Below that, the clickable touch pad is similarly comfy to use.
The Revolve has an easily grippable design and lightish weight. At 3.02 pounds, it's lighter than the ThinkPad Helix 11 and ThinkPad Twist, but heavier than the 11-inch MacBook Air and Microsoft Surface Pro. It's nearly the exact same weight as the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S, but at 0.8 inch thick, it's chunkier than you'd expect.
The top lid closes evenly with the front of the Revolve, but sits about a half-inch forward of the back edge, creating a little lip. It's reminiscent of the older Dell Inspiron laptop designs. The underbite is not very attractive.
The 11.6-inch Gorilla Glass 2-covered touch display feels great, looks sharp, and has great viewing angles, but it has only a 1,366x768-pixel resolution. That doesn't matter quite so much for most everyday tasks, but keep in mind that other 11-inch laptops like the Sony Vaio Pro 11 and ThinkPad Helix (and even the 10-inch Surface Pro) all have 1,920x1,080-pixel resolutions.
Ports, features, configurations
A volume button rocker, an autorotate lock switch, and an odd spring-loaded power switch toggle grace the right side of the Revolve's base, along with an HP side docking port, headphone jack, and microSD card hidden toward the rear. The left side is totally empty. All the rest of the ports line the back: Ethernet, DisplayPort 1.2, and two USB 3.0 ports, one of which does sleep-and-charge for accessories, and the power cable jack.
Having an Ethernet port on the back helps keep clutter down on a desk, but a USB port or two on the side would have helped, as would a regular SD card slot. The Revolve could have fit one.
Wireless connections include 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, and a micro-SIM card slot for HSPA and HSPA+ wireless broadband. Much like a tablet as opposed to a laptop, the Revolve 810 has a lot of other sensors, too: gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, and NFC.