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HP Spectre Folio Hands-On: A Stunning Leather 2-in-1

HP has stepped up the design of its laptops in recent years, and now it's bringing a new material to the industry: leather.

The 13-inch HP Spectre Folio is, without question, one of the most beautiful gadgets I’ve ever seen. While it may look like a traditional laptop wrapped in a fancy case, the new HP Spectre Folio is actually bonded with 100-percent full-grain, chrome-tanned leather. 

HP Spectre Folio
Price$1,299-$1,499
ColorsBurgundy/Luminous Gold, Cognac Brown/Ash
Display13.3-inch (1920 x 1080), 13.3-inch (3840 x 2160)
CPUIntel Core i5-8200Y Intel Core i7-8550Y
RAM8GB
SSD256GB PCIe
Keyboard Travel1.3mm
Ports2 Thunderbolt 3, USB Type-C, Headphone, nano-SIM (optional)
Size12 x 9 x 0.6 inches
Weight3.2 pounds

The materials and subtle embossed HP logo on the lid give the laptop a sophisticated look, like something that should only be carried around in a designer purse or briefcase. And at 3.3 pounds and 0.6 inches thick, the fanless convertible is very portable.  

The leather construction allows the Spectre Folio to fold into several different modes: closed, traditional laptop, and tablet. Unique to the Spectre Folio is what HP calls the "forward" orientation, where the display pops out and leans toward the user.

To keep the display in place, HP used 40 magnets along the base of the laptop and on top of the screen. I had no issues moving the display into different modes, and the hinges felt sturdy in every orientation. 

Given its slim design, the Spectre Folio doesn’t have the widest selection of ports. On the right side is two Thunderbolt 3 ports, while the left side holds a single USB 3.0 Type-C port. On the left side of the display is a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The HP Spectre Folio will come with either a 13.3-inch HD or 4K display. In our brief time with the convertible, I came away impressed with the 1080p panel, which looked bright and colorful. Unfortunately, HP didn't announce pricing for the 4K version, which is expected to release in December. HP rates the Spectre Folio's battery life at 18 hours, but we'll have to wait for a review unit to test those claims. 

The Spectre Folio's backlit keyboard also impressed. HP claims the Spectre Folio’s keys have 1.3mm of travel, which is below our preferred 1.5mm, but better than most ultraslim laptops. The keys felt bouncy and provided a good amount of resistance when pressed. I achieved my average 109 words per minute in the 10fastfingers.com typing test with an accuracy of 94 percent.

The Spectre Folio comes in two color schemes: Cognac brown with ash and Bordeaux burgundy with luminous (pale) gold. The laptop is powered by i5 or i7 Y-series CPUs, which aren't as powerful as U-series chips, but allow for ultraportable, fanless designs. You can preorder the Spectre Folio today on BestBuy for $1,299 for a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD. An i7 version costs $100 extra, and you'll pay another $100 for gigabit-class 4G LTE support. Unlike its Microsoft Surface competitor, a stylus is included with the Spectre Folio. 

Phillip Tracy is a senior writer at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he reviews laptops and covers the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News and NewBay Media. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, listening to indie music or watching soccer.