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HP’s newest EliteBook is lighter than Air, chock-full of enterprise goodies

Technically, HP has been designing laptops aimed at the elites for years now. But in all honesty, very few EliteBooks have thrilled as much as the newest family member, the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 Duo.

The EliteBook 1020 Special Edition, which is the most expensive entry in the new Duo family, attempts to perfectly balance raw speed, a compact form factor and business-friendly productivity . It squeezes a vibrant 12.5-inch Quad HD display into a package that tips the scales at 2.2 pounds and measures 0.61 inches in thickness.

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In contrast, Apple’s latest 11-inch MacBook Air weighs nearly 2.4 pounds and measures 0.68 inches at its thickest point. Guess HP took the old “lighter than air” saying rather literally. 2.2 pounds and 0.61 inches is almost tablet material, yet the EliteBook 1020 SE sports a full-sized physical keyboard with “optimized, consistent key response based on user testing and feedback.”

And the EliteBook 1020 and 1020 SE aren’t pushovers in performance. Clearly, they’re not supercharged gaming machines, but their Core M CPUs, 8GB RAM and 128 or 256GB SSDs should ensure smooth sailing in everything from web browsing to multimedia playing.

Also, whatever you may need to throw at the 12 inchers while working, they can take it. “Designed with enterprise mobility in mind”, the two last an estimated 9 hours on a single charge, and supply all the latest in enterprise-class security. Pre-boot authentication methods, a fingerprint reader, certified Trusted Platform Module 1.2/2.0, the whole nine yards.

And the EliteBook Folio 1020 can withstand a serious tumble. Drops, shocks, high pressure, exposure to extreme temperatures, they’re all just another day at the office for this military-approved laptop.

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Now, in case you’re wondering, the Special Edition is the only one lighter than the (MacBook) Air thanks to its revolutionary blend of magnesium-lithium alloy and reusable carbon fiber. The EliteBook 1020 SE is also the higher-res, Quad HD version, whereas the slightly bulkier standard edition comes with a 1080p touchscreen.

Neither model is available for sale yet, with the more mundane standard model due out in February and the impressive Special Edition slated for an April 2015 launch. No word on pricing yet, but it’s safe to assume the latter will make MacBooks look affordable.