Review: HP Folio 13 is an Ultrabook for the masses

29 Feb

HP’s Folio 13, the maiden, fresh product line designed to appeal both mainstream and business users, is not the thinnest or lightest Ultrabook around. Well, the new Folio 13 may be slightly thicker and heavier than the average Ultrabook, but it also may make more sense for the average user. It provides excellent performance and battery life, a fetchingly minimalist design, and a typing experience that thinner units can’t match.

Our $899 (as of February 20, 2012) consumer configuration of the Folio 13 revolves around an Intel Core i5-2467M, 4GB of 1333 MHz DDR3, and a performance-enhancing 128GB Samsung solid-state drive. The display is flawlessly backlit and crisp, at 13.3 inches with a resolution of 1366 by 768. The $999 business version adds features such as a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) for security, a cleaner software image, and Windows 7 Professional rather than Windows 7 Home Premium.

The Folio 13’s WorldBench 6 score of 118 is good for a Core i5-based machine, and in informal use the unit feels quite zippy. The integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics contribute to weak gaming frame rates, which top out in the low 30s at 800 by 600 resolution with low quality settings.

Considering video, on the other hand, is smooth as silk, even when the user handles 1080p files. The battery exists 6 hours, 46 minutes healthily. The Folio 13 doesn’t have a user-replaceable battery.

The Folio 13 is packed with one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port. Though both are black, the USB 3.0 port is marked underneath with the SuperSpeed USB logo. A single HDMI port is available to accommodate external displays, and there’s an SD slot for loading photos and such. A mobile-device-style mini-jack that combines headphones and mic into a single plug handles audio input and output. The microphone next to the 1280-by-1024-resolution webcam also accepts audio input. Connectivity is top-notch with gigabit ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 3.0 on board.

It is great pleasure to work upon the Folio’s keyboard just because the keys can travel farther that on ultra thin laptops, but there’s little flex to the unit as a whole, which contributes to a more stable typing platform. Though the single-piece touchpad is much appealing, it is a tad greater than on most laptops when the resistance to drag and to resist is considered. The Folio 13 travels at 4 pounds including the AC adapter, as against an average of 3.7 pounds for the Ultrabooks PCWorld has reviewed.

HP displays a pull-quote (from another publication) on the Folio 13’s Web page that calls the Folio 13’s sound “fantastic”. Listening through the headphones, one might conceivably make that argument. But the speakers? No way. Audio through them is loud but more than a tad muddy. Superlatives such as “fantastic” should be reserved for laptops such as the Toshiba Qosmio X775 3D, which has a subwoofer that can reproduce bass tones sans the headphones. Still, the Folio 13’s audio is a cut above the horrible sound you get from the speakers on most Ultrabooks.

In stark contrast to the Folio 13’s minimalist outward design is the busy Windows 7 Home Premium desktop you encounter when you first boot up. Shortcuts to eBay, HP Games (Wild Tangent), RaRa music, Zya music, and HP downloads–as well as a number of more staid HP utilities and Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition–look gaudy in contrast to the elegant externals. HP’s background images don’t match the unit’s appearance particularly well either.

The Folio 13 is a solid effort from HP that, instead of blindly shedding features and usability in the name of thin-and-light, strikes a reasonable balance. It’s probably a tad pricey for some shoppers, but including a solid-state drive always drives up a laptop’s price. This model should definitely be on your short list of Ultrabooks to consider.

 

Specifications

Audio
Audio processor Dolby Advanced Audio
Microphone yes
Speakers stereo
Audio connectors microphone/headphone combo
Battery
Battery technology Li-ion (6-cell)
Estimated battery life (mfr) 9.5 h
Number of batteries supplied 1
Max batteries supported 1
Cabinet (chassis)
Case form factor clamshell
Dimensions (W x H x D) 22.02×1.8×31.85 cm
Weight 1.5 kg
Colour brushed aluminium
Display
Display technology colour TFT
Display diagonal size 13.3 in
Maximum resolution 1366×768 pixels
Expansion slots
Flash card SD-compatible media
Hard drive storage
Hard drive interface type SATA
Hard drive type solid state
Hard drive size 128 GB
Input
Pointing devices 2-button touchpad
Keyboard full-size, spill-resistant, backlit chiclet keyboard with UV coating
Interfaces & networking
USB 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0
Ethernet 10/100/1000Mbps
Video out HDMI
Bluetooth 3.0
Wireless LAN 802.11b/g/n
Memory
RAM installed 4096 MB
Number of memory slots 1
Miscellaneous
Accessories AC adapter
Other 1.3-megapixel HP TrueVision HD webcam, Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)
Motherboard
Chipset Mobile Intel HM65 Express
OS & software
Operating system Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
Software included HP Connection Manager 4.1, HP Support Assistant, Adobe Flash Player, HP CoolSense, HP Quick Launch; Skype, Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)
Processor
Processor manufacturer Intel
Processor model Core i5-2467M
Clock speed 1.6 GHz
Service & support
Standard warranty 1 year
Video
Graphics processor Intel HD Graphics 3000

Source: itworld

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