Display Quality

There are crappy, low resolution TN panel displays, and then there are panels that suck out loud. Jarred and I have been over this a million times, but sometimes you get a display that's bad even by bad standards. That's the stock display in the HP EliteBook Folio 9470m, and if you're interested in this notebook I sincerely urge you to consider buying a unit with the 1600x900 panel, which cannot possibly be as bad as the stock panel.

Don't believe me? See for yourself:

LCD Analysis - Contrast

LCD Analysis - White

LCD Analysis - Black

LCD Analysis - Delta E

LCD Analysis - Color Gamut

This is without a doubt one of the worst panels I've ever tested, and it's a testament to how obnoxiously cheap vendors behind the Windows PC market really are. It's difficult for me to be professional when I'm looking at a notebook that has a panel I would've judged poor even when I started writing reviews at AnandTech, before tablets with crisp IPS panels started proliferating in the marketplace. There's no excuse at all for this panel to even see the light of day except in a $300 budget junker, let alone in a notebook you're paying north of $1,300 for.

We bumped up our battery testing to start panel brightness at 200 nits instead of 100 nits; that means this notebook's battery life was tested with the backlight at its highest level. This is an ugly, ugly panel, and in 2013 there's simply no excuse for it. I've personally told reps at HP and other vendors that this isn't going to fly anymore, I know Jarred has as well, and Anand's even told manufacturers that this kind of penny-pinching will allow the burgeoning convertible tablet market to subsume the notebook market at large.

Battery Life

Speaking of battery testing, I was able to test the Folio 9470m with both its substantial 52Wh stock battery and its 60Wh extended slice battery. If ultrabooks can be relied upon for anything, it's producing excellent battery life, and that turned out to be true here despite the screen running effectively at maximum brightness.

Battery Life 2013 - Light

Battery Life 2013 - Medium

Battery Life 2013 - Heavy

Battery Life 2013 - Light Normalized

Battery Life 2013 - Medium Normalized

Battery Life 2013 - Heavy Normalized

As it turns out, the slice battery not only more than doubles the 9470m's already healthy battery running time, it actually improves the system's efficiency somewhat. For basic use, the 9470m can give you a healthy five hours at least. Add the slice battery, and suddenly you're good for roughly the whole day.

Heat and Noise

Battery life is good, but heat and noise are a bit less desirable.

The Folio 9470m's thermals are actually very good, but HP has clearly tuned the system to favor temperatures over acoustics. The result is that while it's impressively cool under load (sub-80C in an ultrabook is excellent), the fan spins up and produces a high-pitched whine. Under the circumstances I honestly favor tuning for silence over thermals; the XPS 13 proves that you can let the processor run a little toasty without that heat transferring too directly to the end user, and I'd prefer the 9470m took that tack.

That in mind, though, the cooling system is handled almost entirely through the side of the notebook as opposed to the bottom, which is greatly appreciated as it allows the 9470m to actually be used as a laptop.

System Performance Conclusion: This Just Isn't Okay Anymore
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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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