HP EliteBook Revolve 810

HP’s EliteBook Revolve 810 is a good first step towards a very portable business laptop-tablet hybrid, but lack of a killer battery life hurts it.


7.2
CNET Rating

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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 US$1,899, and our review configuration with 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) and Core i5 CPU costs a princely US$2,099. When Apple's latest products undercut yours, you have a problem. And that ThinkPad Twist we mentioned just before starts at US$1299. The Revolve's higher price, albeit with an SSD, is hard to swallow, even with its Gorilla Glass 2-covered touchscreen 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.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

I liked the Revolve a lot at Consumer Electronics Show (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.

Design

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 multi-touch 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 laptop-like 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 super sexy. It still looks like IT department-issued equipment but sports a clean-cut industrial profile.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

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 centre 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. Swivelling the screen around into tablet mode is equally satisfying when it's used as a handheld device or as a kiosk-like touchscreen on a laptop base.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

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 funnelling away liquid, too. Below that, the clickable touch pad is similarly comfy to use.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

The Revolve has an easily grippable design and lightish weight. At 1.4 kilos, 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 0.5 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.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

The 11.6-inch Gorilla Glass 2-covered touch display feels great, looks sharp and has great viewing angles, but it has only a 1366x768-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 1920x1080-pixel resolutions.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Ports, features, configurations

A volume button rocker, an auto-rotate 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 towards the rear. The left side is totally empty. All the rest of the ports line the back: Ethernet; DisplayPort 1.2; 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 near-field communication (NFC).

The multi-touch display is compatible with an active capacitive "Executive Tablet Pen" that works with an in-screen digitiser, but the pen is sold separately. Still, it's nice to have deeper stylus support.

An inevitable note on security features: the EliteBook Revolve 810 uses a vPro Intel Core i5 processor and supports TPM, plus a core set of HP security features and software. You can buy the Revolve with Windows 8 or Windows 7 installed.

Our US$2,099 configuration of the Revolve 810 has an Intel Core i5-3437U processor, 4GB of fused RAM and a 128GB SSD. The entry-level US$1,899 version has a Core i3-3227U processor. Configurations come with up to a 256GB SSD, and you can upgrade the RAM to 12GB.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Performance

The included Core i3 and i5 processor options aren't part of the latest fourth-gen Haswell family of Intel processors. That doesn't mean much for overall speed, but it could be a factor in the unimpressive battery life results. In our benchmarks, this Revolve 810 with its slightly different Core i5 processor came out slightly ahead of the similar Lenovo ThinkPad Helix and was faster than the IdeaPad Yoga 11S.

Built-in Intel HD 4000 graphics combine with the Core i5 to provide a suitably zippy environment for everyday computing: the Revolve is quick to start up and launch programs and feels fast enough.

Battery life is another story: we only eked out four hours and 45 minutes in our video playback test. The included six-cell battery is removable, but the ThinkPad Helix, similarly sized, has two batteries providing far better battery life (seven hours, 37 minutes). The Helix, in tablet mode using one battery, matches what the Revolve 810 provides in a larger form.

You can imagine that a Haswell processor would help battery life, much like it has with most laptops we've seen. That would be a big deal: under five hours on a 2013 laptop is hard to recommend.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Conclusion

The best things the EliteBook Revolve 810 has going for it are clean design and comfortable feel, plus system speed. Price and battery life are the weaknesses. You might love this laptop landing on your desk in a little business briefcase, but the battery life just won't quite do it. That makes the Revolve 810 a little tough to suggest above other laptop-tablets. It's a cute but professional laptop-tablet hybrid in need of a boost to match our battery life expectations.

Regular consumers need not apply; business travellers might find it intriguing, but be aware there plenty of equivalent options already out there. It is, however, a nice, solid design step forward for HP. Keep an eye out for the next version.

Via CNET.com



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