In and Around the HP EliteBook Folio 9470m

If you've kept up with my reviews of HP's EliteBook line you're not going to find any surprises here with the Folio 9470m. The current styling has been working out fairly well for HP and still feels like it stands head and shoulders above what Dell is doing with their notebooks. Outside of the XPS line I feel like Dell's aesthetics on virtually all of their lines, consumer and enterprise alike, have gone almost completely off the rails. The current generation Inspirons look like Speak-and-Spells, while Precision notebooks look like cheap knock-offs of ThinkPads from ten years ago. Placed in that company, the EliteBook line looks positively futuristic.

With all that said, though, the current design motif of HP's EliteBooks is beginning to wear out its welcome. The machined aluminum lid and body is coupled with black plastic on the keyboard and display bezel. The bottom of the body is comprised of what feels like black carbon fiber, though it could just as well be well-treated plastic. Either way, the machine as a whole feels very sturdy, but I do feel like it's time to move on.

I continue to be pleased with how HP has been handling the backlit keyboard and especially the smooth glass surface of the touchpad; HP's keyboard layout is traditional, comfortable, and easy to use. Key depth is good, flex is minimal. There's a trackpoint in the center of the keyboard, traditional for enterprise notebooks, and the touchpad is large and roomy. Ironically, the recessed touchpad was more desirable in the Windows 7 era; with Windows 8, edge gestures are harder to perform. Truthfully, though, I'm kind of done with chiclet keyboards. They work fine for the most part, but I'd like to see at least enterprise systems go back to traditional keyboards.

HP really takes care of the enterprise customer with the 9470m, though, and they do that in four ways: continuing to employ SmartCard readers, offering a side-mounting docking bay (the notebook is too thin to use the bottom-mounting ones, so HP is transitioning to these), offering a bottom-mounting slice battery, and making the ultrabook totally user serviceable (complete with replaceable battery).

Opening up the 9470m is a bit of a chore as you have to unscrew and remove the panels in a specific order, but you can see that overall it's a pretty smart and efficient layout. Everything you'd be able to replace in a traditional notebook, short of the CPU, can be replaced in the 9470m without too much hassle. Honestly this is one of those things I wish I'd see a little more frequently in consumer notebooks; only enthusiast-class units are really this user friendly anymore.

I also had a chance to try out the slice battery and dock. The dock feels just a touch loose, but it only blocks the VGA and ethernet ports on the notebook (which it replaces), and in exchange brings a tremendous amount of flexibility, including four USB 3.0 ports and an additional DisplayPort. I also like how the bottom of the dock allows you to mount it to the wall if you're so inclined.

The slice battery, on the other hand, can be a lot more fiddly. Once it's locked in, it's locked in, but getting the notches to line up and securely tilt in was abnormally frustrating. I was able to, and I suspect with practice it wouldn't be an issue, but the difficulty is nonetheless worth mentioning. The 60Wh slice battery does add at least a pound of heft to the 9470m; this was already a pretty light notebook so that's not a huge deal, but it's very noticeable.

Introducing the HP EliteBook Folio 9470m System Performance
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  • JDG1980 - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    Windows 7 already does DPI scaling quite well. Some apps do manage to screw it up, but that's really unavoidable unless you are going to force a walled garden. All the normal stuff that people use on a regular basis works fine at high DPI settings.
  • nerd1 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    $1349, 1.63kg and 1366*768 screen?
    I always thought rMBP 13" are overpriced, but it seems to have better value than this one...
  • VivekGowri - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Actually, after the price drop to $1499 ($1399 with student discount) the rMBP13 is a pretty decent value - an equivalent MBA13 costs $1299, you pay $200 more for the rMBP13 and get a vastly better screen, more ports, and faster CPU/IGP. The only ultrabook I could even think about recommending over it is the Zenbook Prime and ZBP Touch, because they play in lower price ranges.
  • nerd1 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Personally I think samsung series 9 is the best ultrabook out there, which is 1/2lbs lighter than other ultrabooks, looks gorgeous and packs a good matte PLS display. It's quite affordable too (I remember $800-900 deal for sandy bridge models... which are still pretty good)

    That said, I just found out that one reseller now sells 13" rMBP at $1299!! This makes the 13" rMBP ironically the best value ultraportable (including ultrabooks) out there. :[
  • meacupla - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Or how about a surface pro 128GB ($1000) with wedge keyboard ($50) and razer orochi mouse ($60)?
  • ananduser - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Vivek...the rmbp13" does not have vPro, nor any other mac. That's before we get into the fact that it also lags under normal usage. You also forgot to add the Windows8 Pro cost, which is almost 300$; Windows8 Pro and Intel vPro are pretty standard requirements in this sector.
  • Penti - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    Nah, volume license upgrade covers the mac. vPro/AMT is obviously why we have machines like this HP.
  • jonup - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    I just grabbed 3 Vizio CT15s for $600. I think that is better value than anything you mentioned including the MBP. Even at regular price <$900 this thing is a still. 15.6" 1080p IPS is just gorgeous. It has its shortcomings and the connectivity sucks, but with all the money saved I can purchase Bluetooth peripherals and call it the day.
  • Penti - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    So it supports 2 SODIMMs in dual-channel, HD+ screen as well as mSATA SSDs and docking station? It shouldn't be so lackluster but HP's always seem a bit tricky to get customized. Might not be an issue if your an large customer though, but for everyone else it might be difficult.

    One question though, does it support two screens / monitors using the two DP-outputs that the combination with the ultraslim dock gives you?
  • biostud - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    HP has Probooks and Elitebooks for business. If their naming scheme should make any sense, probooks should be average consumer notebook with business build and support. The Elitebooks should be the best money can buy, no compromises. When HP dropped the IPS screen on the Elitebooks, they stopped being Elitebooks.

    -written on a hp probook 6360b

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