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HP brings tablet functionality to new EliteBook Revolve

The EliteBook Revolve hybrid is HP's first Windows 8 touchscreen laptop.

Hewlett-Packard is bringing a twist to its business laptop design with the new EliteBook Revolve, which is the company's first Windows 8 touchscreen laptop that can double up as a tablet in some circumstances.

The Revolve has an 11.6-inch display that can swivel and be placed on the keyboard to turn the laptop into a tablet. The screen displays images at a 1366-by-768 pixel resolution.

The laptop has a classic convertible design, but is thin and has more of a tablet feel when used in that mode. But at 1.36 kilograms, the laptop is heavier than pure tablets, which generally weigh under a kilogram.

The laptop has 256GB of SSD (solid-state drive) storage. Chip options are Intel's Core i3, i5 or i7 processors based on the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture.

This is the first Windows 8 touchscreen laptop for commercial customers offered by HP, said Ajay Gupta, director of commercial notebook products.

"We expect the battery to be close to 10 hours, but it hasn't been finalized," Gupta said.

HP is expanding its lineup of touchscreen products with Windows 8 for businesses. Earlier this year, the company announced the ElitePad 900 tablet, which will ship in January.

Many hybrid designs come with detachable screens that can function independently as tablets. But with the EliteBook Revolve, HP is keeping the screen permanently attached to the base.

"We wanted to provide the full Core CPU functionality," Gupta said.

Having a base helps Revolve pack in more components to meet the performance, power consumption and cooling requirements of the speedy Core CPU, Gupta said.

It is possible to fit the Core CPU in the thin tablet design, but the processor would need to be throttled "very, very aggressively," Gupta said.

The Core CPU typically needs a cooling fan when running at normal clock speeds, while tablets with low-power processors don't require fans. Examples include tablets using ARM processors and HP's own ElitePad 900, with Intel's slower Atom processor code-named Clover Trail, which is optimized for tablets.

EliteBook Revolve meets the specific performance requirement of business customers, Gupta said, dispelling the notion that the company is putting out new laptop designs to see which one sticks.

"The usability, the feel we wanted in people's hands and the performance we wanted to deliver, this was really the most elegant way of delivering that," Gupta said.

The laptop has two USB 3.0 ports and a DisplayPort monitor outlet. The base memory is 4GB that can be extended to 12GB. The laptop has a BIOS optimized for Windows 8, but in some cases customers have the option to preload Windows 7.

Mobile broadband options include LTE in the U.S. and HSPA+ for the rest of the world. The laptop has multiple short-range wireless connectivity options including NFC (near-field communication) and Bluetooth.

The Revolve will be available worldwide in March and pricing will be announced at the time of release, HP said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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