Despite all the new Windows 8 hybrids and slider notebooks, sometimes it's best to stick with the classics. The HP EliteBook Revolve 810 is a traditional convertible, meaning its screen rotates to switch this ultraportable from notebook to tablet mode. Still, HP keeps the Revolve fresh, with an attractive, durable, and light design, an excellent keyboard and a fast SSD. Still, with a price of $1,449, the Revolve represents a significant investment.
The HP EliteBook Revolve 810 is bound to turn heads. The sleek magnesium and aluminum chassis is coated in a soft-touch finish, which is not only comfortable while carrying the notebook, but when using it as well. As an added benefit, the chassis hides fingerprints. With the exception of the bottom, which is matte black, all the surfaces have a silver-aluminum color. We like that the top of the lid is beveled slightly around the edges.
But this notebook's design provides more than just looks. The Revolve, which is 30 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor, the EliteBook, passed seven MIL SPEC-810G tests, including those for drops (26 drops on every corner from 30 inches), vibration, dust, altitude and temperature (140 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 20 degrees).
At 11.2 x 8.4 x 0.8 inches and weighing 3 pounds, the Revolve 810 is light for a notebook, but on the heavy side for a tablet. Still, this convertible is lighter than the 12.5 x 8.5 x 0.6-0.8 inch Dell XPS 12, and the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (12.3 x 8.3 x 0.8 inches), both of which weigh 3.4 pounds.
Along the right side of the Revolve is a volume rocker, a sliding power switch and a rotation lock switch. The bottom of the notebook is divided into two panels, one for the battery and the other for easy access to components such as the hard drive and RAM.
The 11.6-inch touch screen on the Revolve has a resolution of 1366 x 768; while that's the same as the ThinkPad Twist, we wish it came with a 1080p panel, as on the XPS 12. Still, the resolution is more than suitable for most tasks, and we especially like the wide viewing angles, which help when the Revolve is in tablet mode. Business users will also appreciate the fact that the display is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 2, which will help protect it in tablet mode.
When watching a 1080p trailer for "Skyfall," dark scenes were deep with no artifacts, and bright colors, such as the bomb going off in M's office, were bright and vivid. We could make out the individual hairs in Daniel Craig's stubble.
Averaging 376 lux, the Revolve's screen crushed the ultraportable notebook category average of 227 lux and the ThinkPad Twist (206 lux), but falls short of the XPS 12 (434 lux).
The touch screen, which supports up to 10 fingers simultaneously, was highly responsive when executing Windows 8 gestures.
Powered by DTS Studio Sound, the EliteBook 810's stereo speakers sound good considering the notebook's size, but audio suffered from a lack of bass. The vocals in Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" came through clearly, but the high hat sounded slightly tinny, and we could barely hear the bass line. The speakers were able to fill our office, but just barely.
Typing on the Revolve 810 was a delight. Despite the smaller chassis, the island-style keys are large and well-spaced, and the slightly gritty texture on the top kept our fingers in place. Its backlighting was evenly lit, and bright enough for us to type comfortably in a darkened room. We also like that the keyboard is spill-resistant; a drain in the bottom funnels any liquid safely through the chassis, and presumably onto your desk or pants.
The 3.5 x 1.9-inch Alps GlidePoint clickpad proved a little trickier. When we first started using the Revolve, we moved the cursor accidentally more than once while typing this review. We had to change the TouchGuard setting in the mouse control panel to the second-most sensitive setting to alleviate this palm rejection problem.
After streaming a Hulu video at full screen for 15 minutes, the touchpad and space between the G and H keys measured 84 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. While both are below what we consider uncomfortable (95 degrees), the middle of the underside did reach 95 degrees, and the bottom left side of the system hit 100 degrees.
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Ports and Webcam
Almost all of the Revolve 810's ports are on the back of the notebook. Here, you'll find two USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort, a Kensington lock slot and an Ethernet port, the latter of which is a rarity on a system this size. Along the right is a proprietary port used to connect the notebook to a dock, a headphone jack and a microSD card slot.
Using the included YouCam app, the Revolve's 720p webcam captured colorful-but-grainy images. While it will be sufficient for Skype calls, we wouldn't recommend taking any self-portraits.
Packing a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i5-3437U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB Samsung SSD, the Revolve took care of any and all business tasks with ease. On PCMark 7, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance, the Revolve scored 4,554, which bested the ultraportable average of 3,627 and the ThinkPad Twist (3,108), but fell a little short of the Dell XPS 12, which has a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i5-3317U, and scored 4,727.
The Revolve 810 booted Windows 8 in a speedy 8 seconds, a third of the category average (25 seconds), and about half that of the XPS 12 (15 seconds) and the ThinkPad Twist (17 seconds).
Its SSD was equally fast when duplicating 4.97GB of multimedia files on the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, taking just 32 seconds to complete the task. That equals a rate of 159 MBps, nearly twice that of the average (86 MBps), and slightly higher than the XPS 12 (150 MBps). The ThinkPad Twist eked out 40 MBps.
When it came time to match 20,000 names with their addresses in our OpenOffice Spreadsheet Test, the Revolve took 5 minutes and 17 seconds. That's more than a minute faster than the average (6:34), and it also beat out the XPS 12 (5:34) and the ThinkPad Twist (5:57).
The Intel HD graphics 4000 GPU in the Revolve 810 isn't designed for gaming, but is good enough for everyday tasks such as watching HD movies. On the 3DMark11 benchmark, the Revolve's score of 586 falls short of the category average (730) and the XPS 12 (602), but is slightly higher than the ThinkPad Twist (550).
Even at the recommended settings, the Revolve averaged 26 frames per second in "World of Warcraft," which falls below our playability threshold of 30 fps.
With a runtime of 5 hours and 27 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi), the Revolve 810 falls about 20 minutes short of the XPS 12 (5:46), and about half an hour below the category average of 5:56. Still, it's much better than the ThinkPad Twist's runtime of 4:36.
HP does not offer an extended battery with the Revolve 810.
Business and Security Features
HP loads the Revolve with a number of security measures, including TPM 1.2, HP BIOS protection, Computrace, Face recognition and HP SpareKey. The notebook also comes with an NFC chip, but we would have also liked to have seen a fingerprint reader. An optional LANDesk Management Suite enables IT departments to remotely update or lock the notebook. The EliteBook is also available with built-in EV-DO or HSPA+ Mobile Broadband.
Software and Warranty
Software includes HP ePrint, Evernote, Skitch, a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2010. The HP-branded Cyberlink Media Suite lets you manage all the multimedia stored on your notebook.
The EliteBook Revolve comes with a limited one-year warranty, with options for a three-year warranty. Users also have access to HP Elite Premium Support, a dedicated toll-free U.S.-based customer support line available 24/7.
HP currently offers six preconfigured versions of the EliteBook Revolve 810. Our review configuration costs $1,449; for that, you get a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i5-3437U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The starting configuration costs $1,249, and has the same amount of memory and storage, but a slower 1.9-GHz Intel Core i3-3227U processor. The top-end preconfigured version costs $1,799, and has a 2.1-GHz Intel Core i7-3687U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. As of this writing, HP is also offering an additional 8GB of RAM for all models.
While our configuration only came with Windows 8 Professional, all the other preconfigured versions will have a Windows 7 Professional downgrade option. All of the preconfigured models also come with a 50GB one-year subscription to Box, which normally costs $20 per month.
Consumers can also purchase an active stylus separately for $49. While the pen is too thick for the notebook to reasonably accommodate a built-in holder, we would appreciate a way to connect it to the Revolve using a tether of some sort.
With a durable, attractive 3-pound chassis, fast SSD, and an excellent backlit keyboard, the HP EliteBook Revolve 810 has all the amenities a road warrior could want. For $1,449, though, we'd prefer longer battery life. If you're not sold on the tablet-only paradigm just yet, the Revolve 810 lets you dip your toes into a touch-centric future, while still retaining all the best features of the current generation of ultraportable business notebooks.