Review: HP EliteBook Revolve takes the Ultrabook for a spin

Professional-grade laptop-tablet convertible combines solid build, superior performance, and a surfeit of business features

HP continues to experiment with hybridizing business-class notebooks by putting them in elegant, consumer-style form factors. The newest case in point is the EliteBook Revolve 810, a functional competitor to Ultrabook-cum-tablets like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga. By default, the Revolve is a three-pound, 11.6-inch laptop, but flip the display around and you get a tablet that's only marginally heavier than other convertibles of its size.

The specs for the Revolve put it firmly in HP's corporate lineup, starting with the choice of processor (Core i3 through i7, all on the Mobile Intel QM77 Express chip set) and the presence of TPM-based security and antitheft options. The unit ships with your choice of Windows 7 or Windows 8, though it's clearly been optimized for the latter. The on-board 256GB SSD provides plenty of room for documents and programs; a MicroSD slot and two full-sized USB ports are available for further expansion if you need it. The battery provided enough juice for a full five hours in my Netflix rundown test.

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The more "rugged" Ultrabooks typically tout Gorilla Glass displays or a magnesium chassis, both of which are found on the Revolve. But the Revolve also sports an illuminated spill-resistant keyboard, complete with drains in the underside of the unit. (No, I didn't have the nerve to try this out with my coffee; here's hoping you never have to, either.) Typing with that keyboard is comfortable. Although the keys don't have much travel distance, they land with a solid enough click to make up for it.

I suspect the drainage ports along the bottom are the reason for the relocation of the CPU's heat vent. It's not on the rear, though, as per some other Ultrabooks I've seen recently. Rather, it's on the left side, with the rear bezel reserved for the power, USB, RJ-45, and external SATA connectors.

My biggest usability gripes revolve around the touchpad, which doesn't sport separate buttons. Instead, the whole touchpad works as a physical click zone, which makes two-handed use (point with one hand, click with the other) a little awkward. Right-clicking is also particularly difficult with this touchpad, as the included software doesn't let you adjust the zone on the touchpad that registers as an actual right-click. The Revolve lacks an HD activity light, as well, although I find the only time I really miss one is during boot-up and shutdown.

Among HP's selling points with the EliteBook for corporate fleets is a feature I also saw in the HP ElitePad 900 and liked a great deal: the ability to service the units in-house, via an optional disassembly dock.

The HP EliteBook Revolve packs plenty of power and plenty of bang for the buck. It's plenty usable too, my touchpad peeves notwithstanding. If you're thinking of using the Revolve as a tablet, though, note that while the display does revolve, it doesn't detach. If you're not hung up on having all the oomph or the business-class features of the Revolve, you might look into HP's Envy X2 with its detachable keyboard dock and second battery.

 

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