- Excellent overall quality
- Good keyboard and innovative touchpad
- Extensive business security features
- Good battery life
- Media card reader only reads Micro SD
- HD+ display could be more colorful
The EliteBook Folio 1040 is HP’s second-generation Folio, replacing the EliteBook Folio 9470m. HP’s EliteBook Folio product line is aimed at high-end business users. The Folio 1040 performed particularly well in our testing; its key features include superb overall quality, a high-resolution 14-inch display, good keyboard and innovative touchpad (which HP calls the ForcePad), an emphasis on security and enterprise-grade features including a SmartCard slot and available docking station.
The Folio 1040 is a halo product for HP; it’s designed to make a statement for the company. At 0.63 inches thin and 3.3 pounds, this notebook improves on its predecessor, the Folio 9470m and is one of the thinnest available sporting a 14-inch display. The Folio 1040’s design is a hybrid of business functionality and consumer desire for aesthetically pleasing products; this is the trend for modern business devices. It does away with straight edges and corners but keeps the business simplicity by using a two-tone color scheme and clean lines.
The quality of build is outstanding; the chassis is all but impossible to flex either by pressing down on the surface with abnormal pressure or grabbing and twisting by the corners. Fit and finish is also excellent; gaps between parts are minimal. As a matter of fact, the Folio 1040 is made of few parts to begin with – this tends to be more expensive, but ultimately yields a more compact design. Build materials consist of magnesium and ABS plastic.
The display hinge has just the right amount of stiffness to keep it from wobbling, though it’s a tad too stiff to allow fully opening it with one hand. The display’s aluminum backing has enough support to prevent ripples on the screen though I did get ripples to appear using excessive pressure.
Upgrading the Folio 1040 is a small project; it clearly wasn’t designed with user upgrades in mind. All the Torx screws on the bottom of the chassis must be removed in order to access the internal components including the memory and storage device.
Input and Output Ports
The Folio 1040’s ultra-thin chassis mean a limited port selection; there are two USB 3.0 ports, a full-size DisplayPort, a SmartCard slot and docking station connector (the latter is an important qualification for a business notebook). HP includes a dongle with this notebook to add VGA and Ethernet connectivity; it plugs into the docking station connector. Picture descriptions are left to right.
Left: Kensington lock slot, exhaust vent, USB 3.0 w/ sleep and charge, micro SD slot, SmartCard slot
Right: Headphone/microphone combo jack, USB 3.0, DisplayPort, docking station connector, AC power jack
Screen and Speakers
Folio 1040 buyers have a choice between two displays: the standard HD+ (1600×900 pixels) panel like our review unit or the upgraded FHD panel (1920×1080). HP says it will be offering a touch-enabled FHD display in the near future as a third option.
The HD+ panel in our review unit uses SVA (Vertical Alignment) technology; it has better color reproduction and contrast than the inexpensive TN panels found in most notebooks, though it still suffers from poor viewing angles, making colors shift quickly when this display is viewed off-center. My impression of this display is that picture quality is just average; colors have depth but aren’t too exciting. This display’s greatest asset is practicality; the 1600×900 resolution means you can use two windows side-by-side and see a comfortable amount of rows in Excel or lines of text in a web page. Additionally, its anti-glare surface treatment is free of reflections and easy to clean.
The available FHD panel is of significantly higher quality as it’s a true IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel with unlimited viewing angles. It’s also brighter, has more accurate color reproduction and superior contrast; we’d say it’s a worthwhile option if your budget allows.
There are two stereo speakers located below the display and they’re surprisingly clear and balanced considering the Folio 1040’s size and purpose as a business notebook. They’ll definitely do in a pinch.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Quality input devices are required on a business notebook (and in this reviewer’s opinion, any device); the Folio 1040 earns a shining star in this category. The keyboard is full-size with Chiclet/island-style keys. It has white LED backlighting with three brightness levels including completely off. The keys have a light actuation pressure (effort required to depress) but precise action and sufficient key travel for a communicative typing experience. Keyboard flex is non-existent. This keyboard is spill-resistant with a drain system that channels fluids through a hole in the bottom of the notebook. The keyboard layout is excellent with dedicated home, end, pgup and pgdn keys arrayed down the right side as well as left and right Alt and Ctrl keys. All other keys are in their expected positions. The keys have an HP DuraKey finish which is designed to resist wear over time e.g. no shiny keys from use.
HP calls the Folio 1040’s touchpad a ForcePad; the ForcePad is termed such because of its pressure sensitivity. I appreciated the productivity benefits of this technology almost immediately; while two-finger scrolling for example, just press harder if you want it to scroll faster – no need to repeatedly drag fingers down the touchpad surface. Sensitivity is as expected and the ForcePad’s surface is anti-glare and easy to track across. It lacks physical buttons; to perform a right click, tap with two fingers or press in the lower right corner where the right-click button would normally reside. All I can say is I’m pleased HP avoided ‘clickpads’, a touchpad with a clickable surface; these have been poorly received by users and reviewers alike with few exceptions.