HP has been quite busy this year with plenty of announcements in the notebook space, especially Ultrabooks. Only a couple of days back, they announced their new Ivy Bridge line of Ultrabooks and Sleekbooks, but there’s still time before they hit our shores. Till then, we can occupy ourselves with the Folio 13, an Ultrabook announced towards the end of last year. Let’s see how it stacks up against the likes of Dell and Toshiba Ultrabooks.
Design and Build
The HP Folio 13 doesn’t pretend to be anything, but a premium Ultrabook, which is immediately apparent from the moment you unbox it. Just like the Dell XPS 13, the Folio 13 feels sublime in your hands and you can tell HP has gone to great lengths to make this notebook feel ultra premium. The attention to detail is great and it just feels nice, in fact it makes you want to use the notebook more. It’s not the slimmest Ultrabook at 18mm in depth nor the lightest at 1.5kg, but the weight distribution is done very well, so it never really feels heavy.
Most of the notebook is covered with a brushed aluminium finish, while the underneath has a rubberized coating for better grip, for when you use it on your lap. The end result is that it attracts almost no fingerprints making it super easy to maintain. Since the notebook has a bit of heft, HP has added all the standard connectivity options (sans a disc drive of course), like Gigabit LAN, HDMI, a USB 3.0 and 2.0 port, card reader and headphone jack. We feel they could have squeezed in one more USB port to complete the set. The intake vents are placed underneath, while the exhaust sits just behind the hinge. Speaking of which, the hinge mechanism feels sturdy and durable and doesn’t seem like it’ll loosen anytime soon. The lid also tilts back all the way to 170 degrees, giving you a very flexible viewing, no matter your seating position.
Good set of connectors
The 13.3-inch screen is fitted with an extremely thin bezel giving it a wider appearance. The speaker grill is placed above the keyboard, so it’s never blocked. You also get Dolby Advanced Audio for better audio fidelity. The brushed aluminium trim continues on the inside, as well as around the keypad and palmrest area. The island style keyboard has ample of spacing between them making it an absolute joy to type on, but then again, HP has been known for their amazing keyboards, so no surprise here. The same cannot be said about the trackpad buttons, though. While the tracking is smooth and responsive, the trackpad buttons feel like some sort of a torture device used to punish inmates in a prison camp. The buttons are so damn hard and there’s no proper click feel to it, so you have to apply a lot of pressure to use them which makes it a horrifying experience. Leaving that aside, HP scores highly for overall design and build for the Folio 13.
Let’s get the main specifications out of the way first. The Folio 13 is powered by an Intel Core i5-2467M ULV CPU, 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. What I don’t understand is why couldn’t they install a standard hard drive and small SSD, since there’s clearly plenty of room inside the chassis. There’s no dedicated graphics card, of course so you’ll have to make do with the onboard one, which is fine for watching HD movies. You also get Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, along with it.
Very comfortable keyboard
Along with the usual software fluff that HP bundles along with their notebooks, is CoolSense technology. This automatically adjusts the fan in the notebook, depending on the system temperature. There’s also Dolby Advanced Audio for enhancing the sound, HP TrueVision HD webcam, QuickLaunch, Intel WiDi support, Connection Manager and Support Assistant.
The Folio 13 performs on similar lines as the Toshiba Portege Z830 and the Dell XPS 13, owing to similar hardware. The Toshiba manages to pull ahead in some of the tests due to the faster CPU.
The Folio runs cools for the most part. Even with extended use and while charging, it never gets uncomfortably hot, which means the CoolSense tech is actually working well. The keyboard is extremely comfortable to type on, even for extended sessions and the backlit keys help when the going gets dark. The LED backlit screen has a gloss finish, which make pictures and videos extremely vivid and the colour reproduction is also pretty good. The brightness levels are ample, so you can easily use the notebook outdoors as well.
Easy to carry around
The audio quality is actually pretty good. The sound lacks bass, but has a nice warm feel to it, so you can actually enjoy a movie with the use of headphones.
The Folio 13 is fitted with a 6-cell 59WHr Li-Ion that managed to deliver 2hrs 50min in Battery Eater Pro. This, by far is the best battery life we’ve gotten from an Ultrabook, so the extra thickness of the notebook can be forgiven. Under normal usage, you should easily be able to squeeze out 5hrs of battery life.
There’s just one variant of the HP Folio 13 for now and this retails for Rs.69,990, so it’s about 10K cheaper than the Dell (not to mention, better equipped) and about 25K cheaper than the Toshiba, which makes it the best buy out of the three. The Folio scores high on the excellent industrial design and it feels and looks like it can take a beating, when compared to the other two, which seem a bit delicate. We love the attention to detail, connectivity options, great battery life and excellent keyboard. If you can live with the godawful trackpad buttons, then we highly recommend you check out this Ultrabook, as it’s one of the best in the market and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg (well, just an arm actually).