The Bottom Line
Mar 2 2012 - HP is aggressively pricing its first ultrabook at just $900 for the Folio 13 with some impressive features but it is hampered by a few major issues. Performance from the system is very good and the battery life is currently the best in the ultrabook segment. The extra size does give it extra peripheral ports that most of the competition provide. The big problem is that the screen is about as bad as it can get due to its poor brightness and viewing angles. Add to this a trackpad that can be very difficult to use and this becomes a slightly less desirable option. If you can look past these flaws, it is a decent low cost laptop with long running times but HP really needs to address them when they choose to update it.
- Long Running Times
- Good Selection of Peripheral Ports With Ethernet
- Needs a Better Display
- Trackpad Uses Integrated Buttons That Are Difficult To Use
- Larger And Heavier Than Other Ultrabooks
- Intel Core i5-2467M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) LED Display With HD Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 3000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, HDMI, SD Card Slot
- 12.5" x 8.7" x .7" @ 3.3 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, Norton Internet Security
Review - HP Folio 13-1020us
Mar 2 2012 - HP's Folio 13 may not have the most striking appearance of the ultrabooks on the market. It features a more boxy design than the taper found on many of the ultrathin designs. One advantage that this does provide is extra space for peripherals ports such as an Ethernet port. It also has the drawback of being a bit heavier at 3.3 pounds compared to most of the competition topping out at 3 pounds. This makes it one of the larger and clearly the heaviest ultrabooks to date. It features an aluminum clad lid and keyboard deck but the bottom of it is a soft touch plastic.
Being an ultrabook, the HP Folio relies on a 128GB solid state drive for storage. This is a fairly typical size for the ultrathin laptops in the $1000 price range. The drive itself is manufactured by Samsung which actually offers some strong performance from its drives and it does show. In particular, the laptop was very responsive when transferring files with a slightly better than average boot time although it still falls short of what Apple achieves with its MacBook Air 13. As with most of the ultrathin systems, there is no optical drive. If you do require additional storage, HP has included a USB 3.0 peripheral port for use with high speed external storage.
The biggest problem with the HP Folio 13 is the display. The 13.3-inch display is noticeably darker than the competition. This makes using it outdoors even more difficult. Add to this very narrow viewing angles where the color drops off when viewed off angle vertically and you want to make sure you have the display angled properly. There is a full sized HDMI port to at least let it easily connect to an external monitor if you want to work on a larger and brighter screen at an office. The graphics like all ultrabooks run on the Intel HD Graphics 3000 which is the integrated graphics processor that is built into the Core i5 processor. This means that it has very limited 3D performance that it won't be used for any 3D gaming but it does provide some acceleration in media encoding applications that are compatible with QuickSync.
The keyboard of the HP Folio 13 is an improvement over what is found on many of the early ultrabooks. It has a nice feel to it that isn't as soft as the ASUS Zenbook or the Acer Aspire S3. HP also includes large size version of shift, enter and tab keys that make it very nice for touch typers so they don't have to relearn smaller keys. The keyboard is backlit but this is disabled by default and needs to be switched on with the F5 key. Likely this is done to conserve a bit of power when it isn't needed. While the keyboard is quite nice, the trackpad is another story. HP has decided to go with a clickpad that has integrated buttons in the pad. These for hte most part have been problematic. The tracking seems to have improved from previous attempts but the clicking for the buttons is extremely stiff which makes them difficult to use.
With its extra size and girth, HP does have the advantage of including a larger than average battery with a 59 WHr capacity rating. In video playback tests, the Folio 13 was able to run for just over six hours before going into standby mode. This is roughly an hour longer than the MacBook Air 13 and a quarter hour longer than the previous ultrabook champion the Toshiba Portege Z835. More typical web usage should yield between seven and eight hours.
One other advantage that the HP Folio 13 has over hte competition is the price. At $900, it is roughly $100 less than many of the similarly configured ultrabooks. The Acer Aspire S3 can be found for less but relies on a hybrid hard drive and has short battery life. Toshiba's Portege Z835 is also in this price range but offers less performance from its Core i3 processor.