The latest HP EliteBook Revolve 810 has sparked quite a bit of enthusiasm in the crowd looking for a convertible tablet notebook, and for good reason: 2012 came and went without any new EliteBook convertible tablet, and the last business convertible tablet from HP is still the 2011 EliteBook 2760p (which HP is still selling on their website to this day). With the launch of Windows 8 in October 2012 and manufacturers going on sprees putting touchscreens on everything (even on traditional laptops with no fancy flip/swivel/fold form factors), HP couldn’t have waited for a better time to get this convertible tablet out the door.
Today, we’re comparing HP’s brand new 2013 EliteBook Revolve 810 with their 2 year old 2011 EliteBook 2760p. This new convertible tablet surely looks slick and has the latest bells and whistles, but it also begs the question whether it’s positioned to succeed its brushed metal ancestor or if it’s merely an offspring and there’s an EliteBook 2790p waiting in the horizon.
In favor of the EliteBook Revolve 810, we have:
- Intel’s 3rd generation Ivy Bridge processors which are more efficient and offer better performance. However, the Revolve uses low-voltage processors which, while very energy efficient, can’t really match the older but full-voltage processors used by the 2760p. Still, this is somewhat of a pro because along with the new processors come Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 which easily outperform their 2000-series counterparts by up to 30% in real world usage (ie gaming and working on high resolution external monitors).
- RAM; the EliteBook Revolve uses low-voltage DDR3 1600 MHz memory which is faster and can positively affect graphics when doing heavy-lifting and gaming versus the older 2760p using 1333 MHz DDR3 memory. The Revolve comes with 4 GB RAM soldered directly to the motherboard and one user replaceable RAM slot, while the 2760p’s two RAM sticks are user replaceable. Still, we think this is a good compromise that allows the Revolve to be significantly slimmer.
- Close call: mSATA SSD storage on the EliteBook Revolve is basically a must in order to make it so thin but mSATA drives are quickly becoming more ubiquitous as more thin notebooks use them and even larger laptops are sporting room for them as a second storage drive. The EliteBook 2760p has a more standard 2.5 inch storage drive which allows you to either fit in a hard disk or SSD. However, the EliteBook Revolve scores points for having a tool-less service hatch at the bottom which allows for quick access to the mSATA drive and RAM without any door screws.
- Three USB ports. The EliteBook Revolve retains the same 2 standard + 1 charging USB port array as the 2760p, but they are all USB 3.0 (versus all USB 2.0 on the EliteBook 2760p).
- Newer connectivity options and more sensors. The EliteBook Revolve naturally comes with newer hardware for WiFi and Bluetooth. The Revolve also comes with a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor for the keyboard and NFC – all of which are absent on the older 2760p.
- The EliteBook Revolve has auto rotation of the display which is handy when holding it up for reading or taking notes, as well as a rotation lock switch on its side. In contrast, the EliteBook 2760p has a button for manually rotating the display orientation.
- The EliteBook Revolve carries a built-in DisplayPort (which the EliteBook 2760p doesn’t have, unless you get the optional docking station) which is a more modern standard than the VGA port on the EliteBook 2760p. As common VGA ports are for projectors, DisplayPort is a digital standard that can power much higher resolution external monitors and can be daisy-chained to more than 1 display, making it more future-proof than the old VGA standard.
- More useful controls at the edges of the notebook that are accessible while the screen is folded: volume control and rotation lock (2760p has a web browser button, jog dial, manual rotation button and ctrl-alt-del pinhole).
- Much slimmer and lighter. The footprints of both machines are similar but the EliteBook Revolve is significantly slimmer at 0.8 inches (22.2 mm) thin and lighter at 1.38 kg (3 lbs) versus the 1.27 inches (32.0 mm) thickness and 1.8 kg (4 lbs) weight of the EliteBook 2760p.
The EliteBook 2760p, despite being two years old, still has some desirable features that the EliteBook Revolve doesn’t…
- The EliteBook Revolve has a 11.6 inch capacitive touchscreen with 1366 x 768 resolution while the EliteBook 2760p has a slightly larger 12.1 inch touchscreen (while maintaining a similar footprint) with 1280 x 800 resolution which is more desirable for productivity with its 16:10 aspect ratio. Also, the EliteBook 2760p has a few flavors for display options: standard, with multi-touch and an extra bright Outdoor View panel.
- The EliteBook 2760p is compatible with a secondary battery slice which slots in to the bottom of the notebook (and can be stacked with the docking station slice too). No word on any secondary battery option for the EliteBook Revolve unless they make a battery that plugs into the side of the notebook. There’s also a CD/DVD drive slice which attaches to the bottom in the same manner as the battery slice and docking station.
- The EliteBook 2760p comes standard with a digital stylus which comes with an eraser at the other end. There is also a built-in slot in the 2760p for storing this stylus. The EliteBook Revolve will have an Active Pen which is purchased separately as an accessory. It is rumored to be a standard capacitive stylus and there is no way to store it within the notebook itself.
- There is an ExpressCard 34 slot on the EliteBook 2760p which comes in handy for add-ons like various card readers, connectors to hard disks or extra storage drives.
Features that the EliteBook Revolve and EliteBook 2760p both have in common (hence, a tie) are:
- 6 cell, 44 WHr primary batteries that come standard with either machine. We’ll have to wait to test the EliteBook Revolve and its battery life to see which EliteBook tablet wins, but from the various efficient parts it uses, we’re betting the EliteBook Revolve will have much better battery life out of the box.
- Both convertible tablets are compatible with their respective docking station accessories for more ports. The EliteBook 2760p docking station sticks to the bottom, which allows for sleeker integration for bringing around, while the EliteBook Revolve docking station slides in from the side, allowing for quick tethering/untethering from your work desk.
- Combo headphone + microphone jack, RJ45 Ethernet port and same power connector for the charger.
- While quality may defer slightly, both the EliteBook Revolve and 2760p sport stereo speakers, dual microphones and 720p HD webcams.
- TPM and various management software and HP software tools.
- The Revolve 810 uses microSD and micro SIM cards while the EliteBook 2760p takes full sized SD and standard SIM cards. We won’t deny that many folks will prefer the EliteBook 2760p’s more standard compatibility, but microSD cards are common too (in mobile devices) and micro SIM cards are easily ‘cut down’ from normal SIM size and can be used with standard-sized SIM slots via adapters.
The biggest huge differences between the EliteBook 2760p and EliteBook Revolve are on the keyboard deck. The EliteBook Revolve has a large buttonless glass trackpad, full-er sized keys on the left and a backlit keyboard, but in favor of the EliteBook 2760p are dedicated page up/page down and end keys, inverse-T arrow keys, HP Night Light for reading and a trackpoint with two sets of dedicated mouse buttons.
The EliteBook Revolve is as a whole a very awesome convertible tablet computer and given the choice between the Revolve and 2760p, I would definitely pick the newer Revolve. However, the lack of certain features (particularly a precision digitizer stylus and support for an extended battery) on the Revolve and also yet-to-be announced price of the EliteBook Revolve create a mystery on its positioning and whether a more upscale EliteBook 2790p is due soon. There are certainly things which are probably going extinct in the compact laptop market (which we might not see on the 2790p if it exists): the ExpressCard slot, 16:10 aspect ratio display and DVD drive slice.
However, there are also high resolution Full HD (1920 x 1080) 11.6 inch display panels in the market which come in both non-touch and touchscreen flavors, as seen on some laptop models of competitors… if a premium EliteBook convertible tablet that’s more expensive than the Revolve does come, we have high hopes that it will have that Full HD panel (also because the market is headed towards the ‘high PPI display’ era, ushered by Apple and their Retina displays)