Sturdy design; Great sound; Long battery life; Comfortable backlit keyboard; Fast boot and resume from sleep
Clickpad is stiff; Relatively dim screen; Bottom can get very warm; Heavier and thicker than other Ultrabooks
The HP Folio 13 is a business-class Ultrabook with best-in-class battery life, a sturdy design, and impressive audio.
The first wave of Ultrabooks--the new class of uber-thin Windows notebooks--was targeted toward consumers. Now HP has entered the market with the business-oriented Folio 13, a 3.2-pound laptop that offers long battery life, a fast boot time, and a super-slim chassis with a professional aesthetic. For $1,048 (starting at $899), the Folio 13 delivers strong performance and endurance, but how pleasurable is it to use?
At 12.5 x 8.4 x 0.8 inches and 3.2 pounds, the HP Folio 13 is thinner and lighter than most notebooks, but a little thicker and heavier than most of its fellow Ultrabooks. The ASUS ZenBook UX31 (13.3 x 8.9 x 0.7 inches, 3 pounds) and MacBook Air 13-inch (13.3 x 8.9 x 0.7 inches) are a little larger, but 0.2 pounds lighter. The Lenovo IdeaPad U300s (12.8 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches, 3 pounds) and the Toshiba Portege Z835 (12.4 x 8.9 x 0.6 inches, 2.4 pounds) are both significantly lighter and thinner.
HP obviously traded some weight and thickness to equip the Folio with a full-sized Ethernet port. We suspect business users will appreciate this feature, but the result is a profile that doesn't wow like other Ultrabooks.
Despite HP CoolSense technology that's designed to help its notebooks stay chilly, the Folio 13 can get a little toasty when performing intensive tasks. After we streamed a Netflix video for 15 minutes at full screen, the touchpad was a cool 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit, but the middle of the keyboard measured 98 degrees and the bottom surface was as high as 105 degrees.
Perhaps because of their soft-touch surface, the keyboard's rubbery keys felt warm rather than scorching hot, but we consider any temperature above 95 degrees on the top surface uncomfortable and any temperature above 100 degrees on the bottom unpleasant. However, when doing simple tasks such as typing in a word processor and web surfing, the system stayed cool.
Keyboard and Touchpad
On the plus side, the Folio 13's touchpad supports a myriad of multitouch gestures, including pinch-to-zoom, rotation, three-finger tap to open a browser, three-finger flick to move between photos in a photo gallery, and four-finger swipe to bring up the Windows 7's 3D task menu. All of these worked smoothly.
Display and Audio
A light meter confirmed that the Folio has the dimmest screen of any Ultrabook we've tested, clocking in at just 139 lux, way short of the Toshiba Portege's 260 lux, the ASUS ZenBook UX31's 360, and even the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s's 162 lux score. The MacBook Air brings the light with a fairly bright 285 lux screen.
Ports and Webcam
However, this Ultrabook lacks two ports many businesses want: a Kensington Lock slot for securing the device and VGA-out for connecting to many monitors and projectors. The Toshiba Portege Z835 has all the same full-size ports as the Folio, but also includes the VGA and a Kensington Lock connectors.
With its 1.6-GHz, Core i5-2467M CPU, integrated Intel graphics, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB Samsung SSD, the HP Folio 13 starts and resumes quickly while handling everyday business tasks with great aplomb. On PCMark 07, the Folio 13 scored a strong 3,167, comfortably above the 2,280 ultraportable category average and and a bit faster than the 2,498 turned in by the Toshiba Portege Z835 with its 1.4-GHz Core i5 CPU and slower SSD. However, the 1.7-GHz Core i5-powered ASUS ZenBook UX31 and Lenovo IdeaPad U300s scored 3,606 and 3,533 respectively.
The 128GB Samsung SSD booted Windows 7 Professional (64-bit) in just 26 seconds, less than half the 56 second category average and even faster than the ASUS ZenBook UX31 (29 seconds) and the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s (34 seconds). However, with its High-Speed Start Mode enabled, the Toshiba Portege Z835 booted in just 21 seconds, and the MacBook Air 13-inch, which runs Mac OS X, booted in just 17 seconds. The Folio resumes from sleep nearly as quickly as any notebook we've tested, coming back to life within 3 seconds of our opening the lid.
The Folio 13 had no problem handling serious productivity tasks, taking just 6 minutes and 44 seconds to complete the LAPTOP Spreadsheet Macro Test, in which we use OpenOffice calc to match 20,000 names with their addresses. That time compares favorably to the 10-minute and 1-second category average and the snail-like 11:36 offered by the Portege Z835. However, the ASUS ZenBook took only 5:50 and the Lenovo IdeaPad only 5:05.
The Folio is more than capable of playing HD videos, but because it has Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics we wouldn't recommend it as a gaming system. On 3DMark06, which measures overall graphics prowess, the Folio scored a respectable 3,425, a bit better than the 2,947 category average and the 3,389 offered by the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s. However, the ASUS ZenBook (3,761), Toshiba Portege Z835 (3,620), and MacBook Air 13-inch (4,236) all scored a little higher.
Software and Warranty
HP sells the Folio 13 through both consumer and business channels, with slightly different software preloads. Our review unit was a consumer version which lacked HP's industry-leading Protect Tools encryption and backup suite, an application even the lowest-tech user would want.
The Folio does come with HP Security Assistant, which is nothing more than a listing of pre-loaded software such as HP Recovery manager, Norton Internet Security trial version, and Windows Firewall. There's also HP SimplePass, a program that lets you store and manage your passwords for popular web sites like Gmail and Facebook.
If you're looking for media and don't have a service you like to use already, HP bundles the Folio 13 with its own HP Movie Store and RaRa Music. There's also a prominent link to Zya, a social site where you can create and post your own music.
While it's more expensive, we still prefer the MacBook Air 13-inch, which has a much better and brighter screen and faster SSD. If you want a much lighter system for a lower price, look at the $799 Toshiba Portege Z835, which has a comfy touchpad and weighs just 2.4 pounds. However, if you want a long-lasting, lightweight notebook with more power than the Toshiba, the Folio 13 is a strong choice.
|CPU||1.6-GHz Core i5-2467M|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)|
|RAM Upgradable to||8GB|
|Hard Drive Size||128GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD Drive|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 3000|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1030|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR|
|Touchpad Size||2.5 x 4 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone/Mic|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Card Slots||SD memory reader|
|Warranty/Support||One year standard|
|Size||12.5 x 8.4 x .8 inches|