In and Around the HP Folio 13

After reviewing nothing but wedge-shaped ultrabooks, the HP Folio 13 is actually a bit of a breath of fresh air. HP's design here doesn't actually deviate all that much from the rest of their notebook lineup; aesthetically it sits right between their consumer and enterprise lines (much as it's intended to), and as I mentioned before they eschewed the wedge shape and kept the build right at the 18mm cusp of Intel's ultrabook spec.

The top lid and interior surface of the Folio 13 are aluminum, while the screen bezel and bottom of the notebook appear to be either carbon fiber or a rubberized treatment on matte plastic; either way, it's soft, light, durable, and attractive. In fact the only gloss on the Folio 13 is surrounding the keyboard and on the screen's interior bezel (which houses the webcam.)

Where HP can claim a major victory with the Folio 13 is the keyboard proper. Ultrabook keyboards, by virtue of the form factor, tend to be very shallow and can be difficult to use. Since HP's engineers seem to have gone in reverse and tried to see how big they could get the Folio while keeping it thin, light, and within spec, the result is a keyboard that has much better depth and travel. It's still not perfect and feels a little on the mushy side, but compared to the others I've tested it's much more comfortable. And as a special bonus: it's backlit.

Unfortunately, despite having an excellent keyboard for an ultrabook, the Folio 13's touchpad is another poorly implemented clickpad. As we've mentioned before and as Anand has even said to me personally, PC vendors still can't seem to get this part of the design down. Honestly I'm at a loss as to why they keep trying, as I have yet to use one that provides a tangible benefit over just using a traditional touchpad and pair of mouse buttons. At this point the only vendor with dedicated mouse buttons on their ultrabook is Toshiba. During testing I found the clickpad had such a hard time detecting misclicks that I was largely forced to use an external mouse.

Gallery: HP Folio 13

Finally, the screen on the Folio 13 is another poor-quality 768p TN panel. It's not really worth going through the full rigamarole for something that bothers all of us; suffice to say it's "competitive" with the majority of what's out there in this class, though hopefully the days of dismal notebook screens are drawing to a close as tablet screens push things forward.

LCD Analysis - Contrast

LCD Analysis - White

LCD Analysis - Black

The remainder of the results are available in Bench, but you can tell the Folio 13's screen isn't very good even by ultrabook standards. The best in an otherwise bad bunch are the ASUS Zenbook UX31E, which at least sports at 1600x900 resolution, and the vastly more expensive Sony Vaio Z2, which runs at full 1080p but costs nearly twice what some of the other ultraportables do.

Introducing the HP Folio 13 System Performance
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  • nitram_tpr - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    HP have appeared to create a chassis that can fit so much, yet all they do is chuck in a big battery that is, well, quite frankly useless.
    If they have loads of room for cooling, why not put an i7 in it?
    Only one stick-o-ram :(
    And a pretty aweful screen, oh dear oh dear, why they hell would anyone buy this?
    And yet you seem to recommend it?
    One of your recommendations is based on the battery, but the battery performance is poor when compared to other ultrabooks with less powerful batteries.
    Is the keyboard worth the $1000 cost?
  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    From one side of their mouth they say they want to compete with the macbook air

    From the other side they say how much they need to get the price point down to $600

    When all is said and done we'll have the same bottom of the barrel $499 lowest common denominator HP/Acer in Best Buy and the only difference is that it will be painted silver.
  • ExodusC - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I stopped reading at 1366x768 display.

    Are you even trying, manufacturers?
  • quitesufficient - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    stopped reading
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Comments like these help no one.
  • french toast - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    I agree, its a fantastic article most tech sites dont even bother to engage with the readers.

    Can you have a look at my request comment please?
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I've spent years dogging apple for overpricing everything... I could always build a way better machine for the same price.

    Then laptops came along and you can't build them yourself anymore... surely somebody can build a DECENT laptop for less than apple?

    It's ridiculous. I have a friend who wanted an all in one, we looked at all the options and he ended getting an imac because it has hands down the best screen and graphics card (and more than double the price). He runs windows 7 on it.

    And if the best ultrabooks still have crap screens by my next laptop refresh, I'm going to end up running windows 7/8 or whatever on an overpriced mac too because we are seriously hurting for options.

    I understand having an entry level model, mid range (what I consider the folio), but they seem to get lost in the high end. There's high end that you'd use for gaming or 3d content creation, and then there's high end that you'd use for writing, publishing, software development, etc which is where I see an ultrabook with a great screen and great keyboard really being an asset. That's what I want. I can play games on my desktop. But a computer with a lousy screen and/or keyboard really isn't good for anything in my books. Might as well just use an ipad if you're that casual.
  • ReverendDC - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I got a cheap HP for $379. It has a 1600x900 (granted, it kind of has to, being 17.3"). Mine's an A4, but there is one at BestBuy with an A6 for $429.99...with a 1600 x 900 screen. Again, granted, these aren't the best in terms of quality of picture or tint. I bought a PNY 8GB set of 10666 RAM and installed. It now has the same or greater power than an i3, and very close to an I5 in terms of overall performance (also upgraded with a spare copy of W7Ult).

    How could HP actually ask me to go with a system that has less power, a worse screen, no dual channel memory support, and a middle of the road battery life for $600+ more dollars? So my laptop is a little less portable (3 pounds Folio vs about 5.5 pounds G7). So I don't have the admittedly awesome SSD drive (i get by with a little help from my 500GB mechanical drive). So I don't have a backlit keyboard. Are those three things worth $600+ dollars?

    Why, HP, WHY?!?!?!
  • Beenthere - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    An Intel CPU with HD3000 graphics? You MUST be kidding.
  • Pirks - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link


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