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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  • tds456 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    I stopped reading at 1366x768. Only while at the comments did I notice "Thankfully the 9470m can be ordered with a 1600x900 panel" You *really* need to include things like this in the specs, even if just in brackets saying option, otherwise people will just keep ignoring the reviews like this one.
  • jabber - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    The thing is the guys at Anand know how most of us feel about crappy screens yet they still keep reviewing them, knowing that 99% of us wouldn't buy it even if the rest of the machine is great.

    It really is time to start pushing those review units back to the manufacturers telling them "Sorry, it's just not good enough! Try harder!"

    Sure you might have a few less laptops to review but there are other things I'm sure. They also might start to get the message and send some quality gear.

    The other thing is that blue or that stock Windows 8 purple just looks so crap on Windows 8. I change all my Windows 8 machines to dark grey and it looks so much better.
  • A5 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Public humiliation will do more than just pushing the units back to the PR team. They'd rather have no review than a bad review.
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    "people want quality, and they're willing to pay for it." - Fair enough but 'most' users don't even know that they've got a 1366x768 screen.

    "Because despite the fact that the MacBook Pro offers virtually no allowances for business class use, it's still gaining a foothold." - The ONLY reason why this is, is due to marketing and name ONLY.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    I strongly disagree. It may be that way at first in some cases, but people will see the display and they'll want it. Likewise, that display continues to make the MBP a superior choice for any kind of visual work that doesn't involve throwing FCPX out the window.
  • JDG1980 - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    Most users may not be able to specify what resolution their laptop is running at, but they can clearly see that the rMBP has far sharper text and images and better color reproduction than cheap PC displays. It just plain looks better, by a significant margin.
  • nerd1 - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - link

    Non retina MBPs are still being sold, and they have class tailing 1280 800 resolution display. Yes it is TN too.
  • sperho - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    The display is somewhat disappointing in both the resolution and quality regard, but as someone who has been using a corporate issued laptop in a variety of brands for the past 15 years, this laptop is by far the best laptop I've ever had issued to me. I travel a fair bit and it's lightness, very respectable battery life, reasonable speed, port options, docking station, backlit keyboard... Oh, I LOVE this laptop. Would I buy it if I had control over what I get for work? No. One has to understand what this laptop if for and for whom by whom it is purchased. As such, it is by far the best machine that I've ever used for work. It isn't perfect, but it's great mobile option that even conservative IT departments will accept.
  • sperho - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    I should add, my employer REQUIRES smartcard capability and it takes a phone call to security to gain temporary login credentials if we don't have our company pass on us (smartcard pass) to logon to the machine. There just aren't a huge variety of machines that have smartcard slots in them. That doesn't excuse the base display option, but given the options, it does it's job and does it well.
  • crimson117 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    This would be fine as long as it's in a docking station attached to a large external monitor.

    1366x768 is not usable even for business email, let alone productivity apps.

    And then to offer crappy quality 1366x768 put the nail in the coffin.

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