HP Folio 13
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In the second part of last year, HP launched the Folio 13 ultrabook which is heavier and thicker than the Apple MacBook Air as well as other ultrabooks that came out in 2011. Even so it still manages to be thinner than any regular laptop and comes at a lower price tag in comparison to its rivals in this segment. The starting price for this model is $899 while the following configuration will set you back $1,049.
At the heart of this ultrabook from HP is a second generation Intel Core i5-2467M processor clocked at 1.60 GHz. In the memory department it comes with 4GB of DDR3 running at 1,333 MHz. For storage it is equipped with a 128GB SSD while the graphics power is provided by the integrated Intel HD 3000 with shared system memory. The system is running on the 64 bit version of Windows 7 Professional and has the following dimensions: 12.5 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches and tips the scales at 3.3 pounds (4.1 pounds if we take into account the AC adapter).
Design-wise, the HP Folio 13 looks a little bit like the Pavilion dm4 model that came out a couple of years ago and was a hit for the company. If you are looking for a very slim laptop like the Series 9 from Samsung, this model from HP is not what you’ll probably buy because it is bulkier and doesn’t feel that sleek. If you are a current mainstream laptop, the Folio 13 will probably look very portable and stylish.
The back lid of this model is graced by brushed aluminum and gives the Folio 13 a professional feel, while the rigid construction and the smoothly opening lid makes the ultrabook feel very solid, especially since there is a little amount of flex.
The bottom surface is rubberized and feels quite smooth when you touch it and it also provides a nice grip when sitting on a desk surface. We should warn you that the heat vents located along the bottom will probably get uncomfortable if you use the laptop on your lap for longer hours. We have good things to say about the comfortable keyboard and the smooth palm rests which provide a great work environment, even though this doesn’t feel like a proper ultrabook.
Above the keyboard of the HP Folio 13 is a small power button which is extremely thin so some of you might want to use your fingernail to press it. As far as the keyboard is concerned, it is raised and wide, featuring a powerful backlight. It is significantly better than most of the keyboards you’ll find installed on ultrabooks. It is even better than the one in the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s and the MacBook Air. The design of the keyboard in the Folio 13 reminds us of the ones HP installs in its ProBook models. These keys are soft to touch and they responds crisply when depressed. We should mention that the top media control function buttons are function-reversed which means that if you want to turn the volume up or down you won’t have to use the Fn key.
Moving on to the touchpad, this one too manages to be very comfortable to use and also quite easy. This touchpad features marked-off zones located on the lower third for left and right clicking. All things considered, this is a pretty good touchpad but the one in the MacBook Air does things a little bit better.
The HP Folio 13 comes with a 13-inch display that has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels which looks excellent head-on. We say head-on because at the side angles the screen is not that good anymore as the image deteriorates significantly, much like on a mainstream laptop. For the money you are paying, the screen still manages to be decent but it won’t impress anyone. If you we’re wondering if the resolution is too low, it actually isn’t because a larger resolution like 1,600 x 900-pixel would have sacrificed the size of the text for virtual desktop space.
Regarding connectivity, the HP Folio 13 comes with an HDMI for connecting the ultrabook to an HDTV, while in the audio department it has a headphone/microphone combo jack. For your data transfer needs it features one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port and an SD card reader. In the networking department it packs Bluetooth, an Ethernet port (rare on an ultrabook) and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Since the Folio 13 wants to be an ultrabook, there wasn’t any room for an optical drive which would have added more bulk.
What you probably won’t like is the fact that there aren’t any hardware configurations offered by HP for this model. This means that you are stuck with that Intel Core i5-2467M processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 128GB SSD, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In addition, there aren’t any graphics options either so you will have to settle with the integrated Intel HD 3000 which is suitable for basic needs, photo & video editing along with some light gaming. As standard, the laptop comes with the Home Premium version of Windows 7 while for $150 more you can get it with the Professional edition.
You will certainly appreciate how fast the system feels all of the time. Let’s take for example a cold boot which takes approximately 20 seconds while a lifting the lid wake from sleep takes just 4 seconds. It’s safe to say that it is just as quick as the MacBook Air from Apple but unfortunately it isn’t as silent. You might be able to diminish the sound while using the laptop by playing with the HP CoolSense controls.
One of the highlights of the HP Folio 13 would have to be its excellent battery that manages to last almost 6 hours, a very impressive result in the ultrabook category. The only one better than the Folio 13 as far as battery performance is concerned is the aforementioned MacBook Air.
All things considered, we are dealing with a very potent ultrabook that not only looks great and works very fast, but it also comes at a much more affordable price tag than its competitors.