HP's Lightest Laptop Ever Challenges Superslim MacBook

Apple's MacBook raised the bar for ultraportables in 2015 with its amazingly thin and light design, and HP is ready to steal some of that thunder with its svelte EliteBook Folio. Available for $999 in March, the EliteBook starts at $300 less than Apple's status symbol and boasts business-friendly features road warriors will appreciate. 

We had a chance to go hands-on with HP's lightest laptop yet, and it's easily the most striking system the company has ever made.

Measuring 11.5 x 8.2 x 0.47 inches for the non-touch model and 0.49 inches thick for the touch version and weighing less than 2.2 pounds (final weight still pending), the EliteBook Folio cuts a very slim profile. Yet this notebook feels quite sturdy, thanks to its CNC-machined aluminum body. Apple's MacBook is 2.03 pounds but slightly beefier at its thickest point (0.14 to 0.52 inches). I really like the classy look of the polished, diamond-cut chassis.

Unlike the MacBook, the EliteBook Folio sports a 180-degree piano hinge, which could come in handy for giving presentations for collaborating. Speaking of which, HP's comfy Collaboration Keyboard sports a dedicated button for starting and ending Skype for Business chats. The audio should come through clearly, too, as the Folio boasts Bang & Olufsen speakers that sounded louder than I expected during our preview.

Other than the design, the one thing that stands out about the EliteBook Folio is its lush display that nearly goes from edge to edge. Colors really popped on the optional UHD screen (3840 x 2160 pixels) during our hands-on time. The MacBook has a lower-res 2304 x 1440-pixel panel. If you want longer battery life on the Folio, you can opt for a less sharp full HD screen in touch or non-touch.

The EliteBook Folio is very minimalist in the ports department, featuring just two USB-C ports and an audio jack, but at least that's one more USB-C port than the MacBook. HP will offer an optional Thunderbolt 3 dock for when you need more connectivity options, as well as various USB-C adapters for Ethernet, VGA and HDMI.

Starting at $999, HP's ultraportable offers a wide range of configuration options, including your choice of 6th-generation Core m5 and Core m7 processors, 8GB of RAM and 128GB, 240GB or 256GB SSDs. HP says to expect up to 10 hours of battery life, but the company's notebooks have lately fallen much shorter than their rated endurance; we'll have to wait and see how long this small wonder lasts.

The EliteBook Folio is a jaw-dropping laptop that should appeal to those who need to be highly mobile and who want to stand out in the crowd. You'll probably need to make some trade-offs for its extreme portability, such as schlepping various USB-C adapters, but overall this looks like one business laptop with serious cross-over appeal.

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Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptopmag.com, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.