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Review + videos: 3 convertible Windows laptops try to be all devices to all people

Brian Nadel | March 12, 2014
We look at three Windows 8.1 convertibles that can transform into laptops, tablets or presentation devices, and try to discover how useful they really are.

Rather than a dual-hinge design, the EliteBook has a single stainless-steel hinge (based on designs used on earlier HP convertibles such as the EliteBook 2740p ) that smoothly rotates and swivels to deliver four distinct orientations. In addition to a conventional laptop, the EliteBook can be a tablet or a presentation system, or can lie flat on a desk.

If you grab the top of the screen and rotate it clockwise, the Revolve G2 is transformed into a presentation system with the screen facing away. You can then fold the display flat over the keyboard with the screen facing up to make it a tablet. The whole unit can also be folded flat on a tabletop.

HP EliteBook Revolve 810 G2

When it is folded flat, the Revolve G2 is functional, but because the hinge is raised off the surface of the table, the display slopes down and away from the user at a 5-degree angle, making it awkward to use.

This turned out to be the rare system that doesn't noticeably wobble when the display is tapped in laptop mode — as opposed to the other two systems reviewed here, which often needed to have the screen braced while using them.

However, my feelings about the Revolve G2 as a tablet are mixed. While it has a handy 0.7-inch lip on the side that makes it easier to grab and hold without touching the screen, at 3.1 lb. (half a pound more than the Dell XPS 11), it is too heavy for prolonged use. It also lacks the Sony Vaio Flip's 5-degree tilt for desktop work. And the magnetic clasps that hold the screen lid in place when it's closed or in tablet mode are too strong — it actually takes considerable effort to pull them apart.

According to HP, the hinge survived 50,000 open-close cycles and 25,000 full rotations in tests. If the Revolve G2 goes through an average of 10 rotations a day, this translates into an estimated lifetime of at least 6.8 years for the hinge.

Made of magnesium, the case has a soft coating on the bottom that feels good and makes it harder for the device to slip out of your hands when it's in tablet mode. The screen lid and keyboard area have a roughened feel to them, though, and the contrast between the surfaces can be disconcerting.

The Revolve G2's 11.6-in. screen is made of Gorilla Glass 3, but its 1366 x 768 resolution pales in comparison to the XPS 11's 2560 x 1440 display. On the other hand, I thought it was the brightest of the three.

The Revolve G2 can respond to 10 individual finger inputs, but you can also use HP's $49 Executive Pen Gen 2 for more precise work. The 1-oz. stylus responds to 256 levels of pressure and uses an easy-to-find AAA battery.


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