HP Folio 13 Review: A Lean, Mean 13-Inch Ultrabook Discussion

Discussion in 'Notebook News and Reviews' started by Jerry Jackson, Jan 30, 2012.

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  1. Jerry Jackson

    Jerry Jackson Administrator NBR Reviewer

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    Every notebook PC maker is coming to a store near you with the best and brightest technologies inside "ultrabooks" (thin and light premium notebooks using the latest Intel technologies). HP's current contribution to the ultrabook market is the Folio 13, a 13-inch aluminum-wrapped notebook packed with an Intel Core i5 processor and 128GB solid state drive for a price of just $899. Can this HP ultrabook compete against higher-priced ultrabooks with higher specs? Read on to find out.



    Read the full content of this Article: HP Folio 13 Review: A Lean, Mean 13-Inch Ultrabook

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  2. TSE

    TSE Notebook Deity

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    The glossy bezel and keyboard frame ruin the design. Besides that, with the new Envy series being alright and this being a pretty good option, HP has really improved their notebook lineups.
     
  3. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    Yeah, I would have liked to have seen a matte bezel and keyboard frame as well. But really, the fact that we're even talking about whether the keyboard frame is matte or glossy is testament to the fact that the laptop doesn't have more glaring problems.

    Would it be nice to see a nicer screen? Sure. But at about 2/3s the price of a MacBook Air 13, I can forgive an unremarkable 720p screen. this thing is going to be a great friend of business and consumer users who want a well-built ultraportable but don't want to pay $1300+...which I'm guessing is a lot. No, it's not as fashionable as a MBA, but did I mention it's 2/3s the price? Besides, if you want premium and luxury, there's always the Envy 14 Spectre.

    Kudos to HP for rolling out one heck of an new lineup with the Folio 13, Envy 14 Spectre, Envy 15 (orangegate aside), and Envy 17.
     
  4. SemiExpert

    SemiExpert Notebook Consultant

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    Count 'em: 16 visible Phillips head screws in the base! Wow, this is the same company that introduced an Elitebook line featuring screw-less access covers for easy service and upgradeability. It goes to show that at HP, an "ultrabook" is no "Elitebook." Quite to the contrary.

    I think we're starting to see a pattern here among "ultrabooks." Subprime screen? Check. Poor connectivity options? Check. Poor user upgrade-ability? Check. So, the Folio 13 ticks all the wrong boxes. What about price? Well, you get what you pay for, so I guess there's no free lunch as far as "ultrabooks?" Get thee to an Apple Store!

    Actually, there might be a role for this notebook. Somewhere out there, there might be a Phillips screw salesman looking for the ultimate "ultrabook." The Folio 13 sure has a lot of Phillips screws.
     
  5. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    Except for the screen, those same complaints apply to the MBA 13, which is nearly 50% more expensive. Poor user upgradeability? Check. Poor connectivity? Let's compare:

    Here's the MBA, as per Apple's website:

    Two USB 2.0 ports
    Thunderbolt port
    SD card slot
    No ethernet (need a USB adaptor for that)

    Here's the Folio 13:

    One USB 3.0 port
    One USB 2.0 port
    HDMI
    Ethernet
    media card reader

    On the connectivity front, the Folio 13 does just fine compared to the MBA you're praising ("get thee to an Apple Store!").

    Aside from aesthetics (and these are on the bottom of the case), what exactly is wrong with using Phillips head screws?
     
  6. SemiExpert

    SemiExpert Notebook Consultant

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    And that's precisely why I brought up the connectivity issue. "Ultrabooks" are generally lowering the number of connectivity options in comparison to conventional notebook PCs, with similar sacrifices in terms of upgrade and repair access. Basically, you're getting a less powerful, less flexible notebook PC for more money - but you're still getting the same Windows 7 experience.

    And the screen issue of great importance. So far every "ultrabook" has served up a sub-prime screen. Yes, it is an issue, even at the point of sale.




    I don't think anyone enjoys removing 16 screws when it comes to upgrading or repairing a PC. I though it was interesting to draw a contrast between HP's current Elitebook line and this so-called "ultrabook." No screws vs. 16 Phillips screws. It goes to show how rushed and sloppy some "ultrabooks" appear to be.

    The keyboard looks like a standard issue, flimsy HP drop-in. Illuminated, yes, but plenty of Pavilions have had the option and I don't appreciate seeing a cheap bouncy house keyboard in a $900 notebook.

    The touchpad looks like the same setup the marred the last Envy 14 and various Pavilions. Awful.
     
  7. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    So you're criticizing the genre, not the particular model that was reviewed, right?

    Wrong. See: Asus Zenbook and, important to this thread, the Envy 14 Spectre. HP offers a 900p premium-screened ultrabook to those who want a $1400 luxury ultrabook, and the Folio 13 to those who want a $900 solid-but-no-frills ultrabook. Choice is good.

    A fastening system that works on a mobile workstation may not work on an ultraportable. The ultra-thin profile of this entire genre (not just this laptop) necessitates certain compromises for access to the interior. For example, the Asus Zenbook has ten screws on the bottom:

    [​IMG]

    Also, how often does an Elitebook owner open his/her machine? How often does an ultrabook owner open his/her machine? Once per year for dusting? There's a huge difference in how often you need to get at the insides. A $3000 machine that needs to be opened frequently should have a different case solution than a $900 machine which rarely will ever be opened.
     
  8. SemiExpert

    SemiExpert Notebook Consultant

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    What, have you not read my posts. My comments are specific to model being review, but as you well know, the "genre" in question is artificially limited in definition.

    [​IMG]

    No, quite correct. The Asus Zenbook seems to have limited vertical viewing angles and I have seen an adequate review of the relatively bulky "Spectre," although I have yet to see a decent 14" display in a very long while.

    In this case, "Choice is good," but I have yet to see a "good" choice in the so-called "ultrabook" niche. So far the best selling and best regarded "ultrabook" isn't technically an "ultrabook," despite being an inspiration for the entire marketing effort. The Macbook Air is still the only game in town.


    [
     
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  9. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    The Folio 13 has the second-best port selection of any ultrabook (after the Toshiba Z835, which offers the same port plus a second USB 2.0), and better port selection than the sales-leading MacBook Air 13. Criticizing it for port selection is, in my book, criticizing the genre and not this particular model.

    You're wrong on the Zenbook's screen. Here's what Engadget had to say:

    ASUS Zenbook UX31 review -- Engadget

    NBR said:

    ASUS Zenbook UX31 Screen, Speakers, Keyboard and Touchpad

    As for the Envy 14 Spectre, CNet UK referred to the screen as "bright and vivid" in their review, and noted that movies "look great."

    HP Envy 14 Spectre Review | Laptops | CNET UK
     
  10. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    I'm just curious as to what the rationale is for putting the specs of the machine under review on page three instead of at the top of the review, where they always used to be? I find it kind of annoying.
     
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