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Laptops

HP EliteBook x360 laptop gets a hybrid makeover at CES 2017

The EliteBook line goes hybrid with a new 360-degree hinge, plus a ton of IT-friendly security features.

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The HP EliteBook Folio G1 was one of my favorite laptops of 2016, combining serious business-friendly styling and professional features with a slim body that competed with the thinnest Windows laptops. HP's latest EliteBook moves past the standard clamshell design to add a 360-degree hinge. The concept behind this new version, according to HP, is to push the ideas of design, security and collaboration.

And that design is the first thing you notice. The unibody construction is similar in concept to a MacBook, but has diamond-cut accents. Like a Mac (but unlike even many high-end Windows PCs), it's an all-metal body. The "asteroid silver" color (personally, I'd just call it "silver") is conservative enough to pass as a business laptop, without being a boring dull gray.

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At 14.9 mm thick and weighing 2.84 pounds (1.29 kg), this isn't the thinnest or lightest laptop around. In fact, it's closer to the new 2016 MacBook Pro, while the absolute thinnest 12- and 13-inch systems dip just below the 10 mm mark. But in that added bulk is room for both traditional USB-A and newer USB-C ports, plus an HDMI output -- all features rapidly falling away from consumer laptops.

It's also a tough hybrid, tested against MIL-spec standards for drops and spill resistance, and the display, in either full HD or 4K versions, is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass. For data security, it can be equipped with a fingerprint reader and even HP's new integrated Sure View privacy screen, which turns on with a keyboard command and obscures the screen image from side angles. An active stylus is included in the US and in some other countries.

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For collaboration, the EliteBook x360 adds a handful of new "collaboration keys," such as one to launch Skype... in case you were confused about how to launch Skype. To be honest, collaboration tools on business laptops always felt like a marketing bullet point in search of a purpose, but the rest of the EliteBook line is cool enough that I frequently recommend them to people looking for a great all-around personal laptop.

The new HP EliteBook x360 should be available in late January, with the price yet to be set.

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