Judging by the number of touchscreen laptops alone, HP wasn't the most agressive of manufacturers when it came to building machines for Windows 8. However, after launching a trio of laptops, the company looks like it's ready to continue filling out its portfolio with the business-focused EliteBook Revolve, the latest in a long line of convertible tablets from the company. Like its predecessors, the Revolve has a centrally-hinged display that can twist 180 degrees and closed to turn the laptop into a pseudo-tablet, but it's the first offered with a truly touch-friendly operating system. It has also been slimmed down quite a bit, coming in at 3 pounds at 0.86 inches thick — not at all thin or light for a tablet, but a good sight better than the previous model's 4 pound, 1.27-inch thick chassis.
The laptop itself is centered around a fairly standard 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 Gorilla Glass 2 display that's (thankfully) covered in a matte finish. We're told it comes in at 400 nits, and while it's suitably sharp and bright in person, colors seem a bit faded and we would certainly like to see a higher-resolution panel. Internally, a magnesium chassis (wrapped in soft-touch plastic) protects an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor, 4GB of RAM (upgradeable to 12GB), and up to a 256GB SSD. There are also two USB 3.0 ports, a DisplayPort, and a full-sized Ethernet jack, as we'd expect on a machine primarily targeted to enterprise, as well as optional 4G LTE.
The preproduction unit that we spent time with had a comfortable — backlit — keyboard, and an average-feeling plastic trackpad. The hinge wasn't quite up to par with some of the best we've seen, either, with an overly plastic construction that lacked a reassuring click. It was also a bit disappointing that you can only rotate the screen counterclockwise. Some of these gripes may be gone by the time the Revolve is released in March for a price that's yet to be determined, but if not, the similar ThinkPad Twist may be a better option. Oh, and just in case you're not ready to give up the convertible tablet of old, HP will offer the Revolve with Windows 7, and there will be an optional pen, too.