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HP Folio Review

What We Think

The Folio is a HP’s take on a business notebook and to be honest it comes across quite well, with a lot of good features and a very competitive price.

Introduction

The template for ultrabooks so far, has been toward very attractive looking, super portable laptops that seem to aim to hit the aesthetic fondness people have for beautiful looking consumer technology. Of course, this has been a success, but has meant the more serious cuff of the market has remained relatively untouched by manufacturers.

HP’s new Folio 13 seems to want a piece of the yet untested ultrabook business market. The device is a not unattractive, yet understated machine, that weighs in just under 1.5kg and is a mere 18mm thick.

Design

Of course, such sizing does not a great ultrabook make, however we did come around to the simple, silver and black chassis, with its aluminium hood and well made plastic underside. It’s simple, but also very effective aesthetically. Though, not made from materials such as magnesium and aluminium, it still is strong ,with sturdy hinges and no flex in the keyboard area.

The keyboard is a backlit one and also spill resistant, something a number of machines are now adding to prevent the clumsy among us totalling our machines via a Starbucks latte. The keys themselves are isolated and on the light side, which will please the speedier typers among us, though there is an element of sponginess which others may not be so inclined to be fond of.The track pad is also decent, and notably large, which is great aside from the fact it often ends up being tapped by accident when typing. It is possible to turn it on and off however, which is useful. Gestures are also quite accurate, which is more than can be said for a number of ultrabooks, which make for cursors jumping across the screen when gestures go wrong.

Screen

Like most other Intel orientated machines, the HP Folio has a 13.3 inch screen. As displays go, this screen is not astoundingly bright, which was a bit of a let down. It’s resolution of 1366x768p will also disappoint those who love their displays vibrant, like the ASUS Zenbooks. This makes for a quite dull display and one that’s more at home with spreadsheets than for watching movies. Viewing angles are also a bit lacklustre and those looking for better displays should look towards the aforementioned ASUS, or the MacBook Air.

Stereo sound is provided for by Dolby and it actually is notably good, there is a good variation through levels and little distortion at the higher end. This is all added to by a 1.3mp camera, that seemed perfectly suitable for those business, or conference calls and suffered no glitches, or lacking due to power.

Performance

Like most other entry level ultrabooks, the HP has the well tested i5 2467m powering it. It’s a good chip, that allows for most programs to be run quite comfortably, and though it plays HD video, thanks to the in built Intel HD 3000 graphics, it’s not going to be suitable for gaming. It can reach speeds of 2.3GHz thanks to the Intel Turbo Boos feature which comes in the i5 chip.HP has added the atypical 4GB of RAM, upgradeable to 8GB, and a 128SSD, which of course means the device comes with Instant On. This allows the HP to boot up in under 20 seconds, but does mean limited space to store files, especially as Windows takes up around a fifth of the storage. Other devices such as the Acer S3 are less and have more storage, but they do come with HDD hybrid drives.

The lack of a GPU us a common problem for these ultrabooks and the HP is no different in this area. However, it does come with business additions such as WiDi and Windows 7 Professional. The Folio is also equipped with 2 USBs, one of which is the 3.0 kind, a full size HDMI port and 1GB Ethernet port, as well as Bluetooth 3.0 and WiFi.

Battery life is where the HP shines and though it didn’t reach the HP claimed 9.5 hours it still managed over 200 minutes in the BatteryEater 05 test, which does exactly what it says on the tin. It also lasts for over 8 hours in average daily use, which is among the best, if not the best in the ultrabook field currently.

Our Verdict

HP’s Folio 13 is among the most subtle of the ultrabooks available to customers at the moment. It’s a slightly more serious take on, what until now, was a slightly peacock like laptop, though this is no way an issue. It’s a good looking, light machine, with plenty of power, a good keyboard and also a price that’s only really beaten by the Acer S3. It also has a great, if not the best battery in the ultrabook field currently.

Sure, it’s not as snazzy as the likes of the MacBook Air, or the ASUS Zenbook with their higher res screen and all over aluminium unibodies, but it costs less. If you’re looking for an everyday ultrabook for spreadsheets, word documents and a little bit of fun on the go, the HP Folio 13 could be it.

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