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Three reasons a Windows 8 laptop leads, MacBook lags

While the MacBook Air is a wonderful design, it's not perfect. And HP offers some compelling reasons to consider a Windows 8 laptop.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
HP Revolve ultrabook is offered with a swivel touch screen, 4G/LTE as an option, and a well-appointed docking station.
HP Revolve ultrabook is offered with a swivel touch screen, 4G/LTE as an option, and a well-appointed docking station. Hewlett-Packard

This week Hewlett-Packard offered a few good reasons to consider a Windows 8 laptop over a MacBook.

Those arguments are embodied in an upcoming 3-pound HP EliteBook Revolve business ultrabook "convertible" that was announced this week.

The MacBook Air is a fine design (I use one every day) and the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is an even better design. But the Apple way isn't the only way. Here are three features that the MacBook ain't got.

Built-in 4G: The EliteBook Revolve offers built-in 4G LTE or HSPA+. Wi-Fi-only MacBooks are getting a bit stodgy. It's almost 2013. 4G should at least be optional on a MacBook.

Let's put it this way, if 4G is an option for the iPad, why not for a tiny 2.4-pound MacBook Air? And if HP is including it in an ultrabook like the Revolve, you can bet there's a reason: some of HP's business customers are demanding it.

And sharing plans make it feasible to share 4G data across multiple devices now.

Touch screen: I've said this before and I'll say it again. Touch is de rigueur for any mobile device now. And two years from now, a portable device without a touch screen will be an anachronism. Like a keyboard without a mouse.

Fact is, HP offered a touch-screen tablet long before the iPad. Unfortunately, it was saddled with Windows XP. And HP (and Microsoft) could never see beyond the stylus as an input medium.

Docking station: I used HP docking stations for years (which the Revolve includes). They were a godsend. When you need to pick up and run, it's just a matter of popping the lappy out. No disconnecting and reconnecting cables.

And good docking stations (like those from HP) offer every port under the sun. So by plugging into the dock, you get the range of ports typically found only on desktops.

Yeah, there are plenty of third-party docking stations out there, but nothing beats a dock spec'd by the PC maker.

Why? Because the dock's design starts on the laptop: high-speed, well-placed docking connectors must be conceived first on the laptop, then the dock design follows.

Like I said, I like my MacBook -- a lot. But its limitations can feel claustrophobic on days. Especially when compared with some of the emerging Windows 8 competition.

But that's what competition is about. Apple is only one company. The Windows 8 crowd comprises scores of companies with plenty of good ideas of their own.

See this preview of the EliteBook Revolve.