- Good backlit keyboard
- Solid aluminum construction with plenty of ports
- Good battery life
- Average, overly glossy screen
- Default clickpad settings are horrible
- Fan gets noisy at times
The HP Folio 13 is a well-built ultrabook with a good balance of performance and features with an average screen.
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.
Build and Design
The Folio 13 might look at first glance like an average addition to the ultrabook category with its aluminum construction and 13-inch screen size. It’s not the thinnest ultrabook with a maximum thickness of 0.7 inches and it’s not the lightest ultrabook with a weight of 3.3 pounds (4+ lbs. with AC adapter), but HP engineers didn’t sacrifice important features (like a media card reader) just to make the Folio 13 an extra 0.1 inch thinner.
The lid and top half of the chassis (palm rest area) are all made of aluminum. The remainder of the notebook uses tough plastics wrapped in a soft touch rubber paint similar to a Lenovo ThinkPad. The entire frame is extremely solid and there is no flex whatsoever in the chassis (very impressive considering the thin dimensions of this 13-inch laptop).
The screen hinges are very strong with enough tension to give the ultrabook a more rugged feeling (you’ll need two hands to open this laptop). The aluminum lid offers good protection for the screen and there is little in the way of screen distortion even when significant pressure is applied to the back of the screen. It’s clear that HP worked hard to find the perfect balance between a thin and light design without sacrificing durability.
As with most ultrabooks, the bottom half of the chassis is pretty well sealed. You’ll find a fan intake vent and plenty of screws if you’re the type of IT professional or tech enthusiast who wants to completely disassemble the notebook. Unfortunately, there’s no way to easily upgrade components like RAM, wireless cards or the mSATA SSD. Likewise, you’re stuck with the built-in 6-cell battery … so if you have an issue with battery this ultrabook will have to go back to HP.
Ports and Features
People buy ultrabooks because they want a thin and light laptop with good performance and superior construction … but the down side to the thin and light design is that you usually don’t get much in the way of ports (and certainly no optical drive). That said, the HP Folio 13 manages to deliver one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI, Ethernet, and the extremely important media card reader (which many ultrabooks sacrifice in order to make the laptop even thinner). The Folio 13 also includes a single headphone/microphone combination jack (headset jack) but that’s all you get in terms of audio ports.
Back: Fan exhaust
Left: AC power jack, Ethernet, HDMI, USB 3.0, media card reader
Right: USB 2.0 port, Headphone/microphone combination jack