The initial bum rush of ultrabooks resulted in, with limited exception, a lot of designs that took most of their cues from Apple's MacBook Air. Even Dell's XPS 13, otherwise very different from what came before it, still maintained that wedge shape. Yet HP went a bit of a different route with their Folio 13 and demonstrated the same kind of outside the box thinking that many of the larger vendors are demonstrating these days.

HP's engineers took a look at Intel's ultrabook spec and, rather than see how small they could get their design, opted to see just how much they could pack into the spec. The result is the Folio 13, an ultrabook designed to bridge their consumer and business lines and offer the best an ultrabook can offer.

The ultrabook spec is pretty well defined without much in the way of wiggle room for the hardware itself, leaving vendors to differentiate largely on overall chassis design and price. The initial rush of ultrabooks included systems from Toshiba, Asus, and Acer that largely aped Apple's MacBook Air wedge shape and aluminum shell design, but HP and Dell played things close to the chest initially. HP's Folio 13 actually predates Dell's XPS 13, but both are intriguing designs that deviate from the norm in their own ways. Let's start with the specifications of our Folio 13 review unit.

HP Folio 13 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-2467M
(2x1.6GHz + HTT, Turbo to 2.3GHz, 32nm, 3MB L3, 17W)
Chipset Intel HM65
Memory 1x4GB Micron DDR3-1600 (Maximum 1x4GB)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics
(12 EUs, up to 1.15GHz)
Display 13.3" LED Glossy 16:9 768p
LG Philips LP133WH4-TJA1
Hard Drive(s) Samsung PM810 128GB mSATA SSD @ SATA 3Gbps
Optical Drive -
Networking Intel Centrino 1030 802.11b/g/n
Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Audio IDT 92HD99BXX HD audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone/mic combo jack
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 60Wh
Front Side -
Right Side USB 2.0
Headphone/mic combo jack
Left Side AC adaptor
Ethernet jack
HDMI
USB 3.0
SD card reader
Back Side Exhaust vent
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 12.54" x 8.67" x 0.7" (WxDxH)
319mm x 220mm x 18mm
Weight 3.3 lbs
1.5kg
Extras Webcam
USB 3.0
Card reader
Backlit keyboard
Warranty 1-year limited
Pricing Starts at $899
As configured: $1,019

While most of HP's notebooks allow some level of customization, the Folio 13 really only has one internal hardware configuration, and you're looking at it. While some of the exterior elements are certainly a fresh approach for ultrabooks, HP has strangely opted to be much more conservative with speccing their ultrabook than other vendors have, and there are a few places where the Folio 13 is going to definitely lag behind the competition.

The Intel Core i5-2467M processor isn't slow by any stretch of the imagination, but it's the only ULV Core i5 we've tested this generation, with other vendors either just going for the cheapest chip (Toshiba's i3) or an expensive but faster i7. At a 1.6GHz nominal clock speed and able to turbo up to 2.1GHz on both cores or 2.3GHz on a single core, it's not a total slouch but it's also not the fastest chip around either.

HP also inexplicably uses only one memory channel on the i5's controller, and while the DDR3 is clocked higher at 1600MHz that can't make up for halving the memory bus width. Ultimately this shouldn't be a huge detriment to performance, but it's still performance left on the table. That single channel is populated by 4GB of RAM, too, which is enough for most tasks but is still shy of what can be achieved with most modern notebooks and even some modern ultrabooks.

Handling SSD storage duties is a Samsung PM810 running at SATA 3Gbps. Anecdotally, in real world usage I've found most of the benefit of running an SSD is felt just by virtue of the difference in responsiveness between an SSD and a mechanical hard disk drive. Connectivity is thankfully pretty good for this class of notebook, though: HP includes a USB 3.0 port and HDMI on top of the usual ports we've come to expect, along with a gigabit ethernet port for wired networking.

Ultimately, though, the specs on the Folio 13 are rather tame for an ultrabook, which is all the more perplexing since other vendors were able to cram more power into smaller designs. When I met with HP a few months ago when they were debuting the Folio 13, they showed me the interior and said they pretty much just doubled down on the battery, which is why the Folio 13 is also slightly bigger and heavier than other ultrabooks. Whether or not that gamble paid off remains to be seen.

In and Around the HP Folio 13
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  • nitram_tpr - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    HP have appeared to create a chassis that can fit so much, yet all they do is chuck in a big battery that is, well, quite frankly useless.
    If they have loads of room for cooling, why not put an i7 in it?
    Only one stick-o-ram :(
    And a pretty aweful screen, oh dear oh dear, why they hell would anyone buy this?
    And yet you seem to recommend it?
    One of your recommendations is based on the battery, but the battery performance is poor when compared to other ultrabooks with less powerful batteries.
    Is the keyboard worth the $1000 cost?
    Reply
  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    From one side of their mouth they say they want to compete with the macbook air

    From the other side they say how much they need to get the price point down to $600

    When all is said and done we'll have the same bottom of the barrel $499 lowest common denominator HP/Acer in Best Buy and the only difference is that it will be painted silver.
    Reply
  • ExodusC - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I stopped reading at 1366x768 display.

    Are you even trying, manufacturers?
    Reply
  • quitesufficient - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    stopped reading Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Comments like these help no one. Reply
  • french toast - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    I agree, its a fantastic article most tech sites dont even bother to engage with the readers.

    Can you have a look at my request comment please?
    Reply
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I've spent years dogging apple for overpricing everything... I could always build a way better machine for the same price.

    Then laptops came along and you can't build them yourself anymore... surely somebody can build a DECENT laptop for less than apple?

    It's ridiculous. I have a friend who wanted an all in one, we looked at all the options and he ended getting an imac because it has hands down the best screen and graphics card (and more than double the price). He runs windows 7 on it.

    And if the best ultrabooks still have crap screens by my next laptop refresh, I'm going to end up running windows 7/8 or whatever on an overpriced mac too because we are seriously hurting for options.

    I understand having an entry level model, mid range (what I consider the folio), but they seem to get lost in the high end. There's high end that you'd use for gaming or 3d content creation, and then there's high end that you'd use for writing, publishing, software development, etc which is where I see an ultrabook with a great screen and great keyboard really being an asset. That's what I want. I can play games on my desktop. But a computer with a lousy screen and/or keyboard really isn't good for anything in my books. Might as well just use an ipad if you're that casual.
    Reply
  • ReverendDC - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I got a cheap HP for $379. It has a 1600x900 (granted, it kind of has to, being 17.3"). Mine's an A4, but there is one at BestBuy with an A6 for $429.99...with a 1600 x 900 screen. Again, granted, these aren't the best in terms of quality of picture or tint. I bought a PNY 8GB set of 10666 RAM and installed. It now has the same or greater power than an i3, and very close to an I5 in terms of overall performance (also upgraded with a spare copy of W7Ult).

    How could HP actually ask me to go with a system that has less power, a worse screen, no dual channel memory support, and a middle of the road battery life for $600+ more dollars? So my laptop is a little less portable (3 pounds Folio vs about 5.5 pounds G7). So I don't have the admittedly awesome SSD drive (i get by with a little help from my 500GB mechanical drive). So I don't have a backlit keyboard. Are those three things worth $600+ dollars?

    Why, HP, WHY?!?!?!
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    An Intel CPU with HD3000 graphics? You MUST be kidding. Reply
  • Pirks - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    FUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reply

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