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
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
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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  • Zingam - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Dude, you surely have microscope eyes, do you? I have a 13.3" 768p display and I cannot see the dots on it! I doubt there will be any real advantage if it was higher res.
    Higher resolution might make sense at 15" but it doesn't make any at 13!

    I bet your are just trolling and clueless!
  • snuuggles - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    I'm hoping it's not just a waste of time to reply to you, but here goes:

    The point is not "I can't see the pixels". The *point* is that a higher vertical resolution allows more work to be shown at once on a page *especially* in windows where the UI can take up a not-insignificant portion of the vertical pixels.

    When I work, I want to have as many lines of code on the screen as possible, 768p is simply limiting.

    Try to think about it before you call someone a troll or clueless. Thank you.
  • retrospooty - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    "When I work, I want to have as many lines of code on the screen as possible, 768p is simply limiting."

    Exactly. This 1366x768 madness has to end. There are so many great laptops out there that would be perfect if they only had higher res options. Even 1440 or 1600x900 is a huge improvement. I cant stand when I cant see the button I need to click becasue its below the screen on a lousy 768 line LCD. Never ever ever again.
  • french toast - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    I agree, we are not in 2004 anymore are we?? how is the new IPAD getting 2560x1440 and they have the cheek to release this? dont forget the ipad is a fully enavled multiouch display, with gorrilla glass and olephobic coating??

    We are getting ripped off people, 1080p multitouch should be the standard IMO, with or without a keyboard.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Well, the new iPad is 2048x1536, but close enough. :p
  • LordConrad - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    I agree completely. My HP 15 inch laptop has a 768p screen and it is perfect for me. I had the option of getting a higher resolution screen, but I'm glad I didn't. If the native resolution was any smaller, I would have difficulties reading it. More info on the screen is nice, but it's all useless if you can't read the screen.
  • erple2 - Thursday, April 19, 2012 - link

    If you can't tell the difference between the clarity of a printed page and your laptop screen, then please stop reading now. You're right, 768p screens in this form factor is enough.

    If, however, you can actually tell the difference between reading a (quality) printed page and reading the same thing on your laptop, then please continue reading.

    I shudder to say it, but "You're reading it wrong"...

    In the modern day age of 3D based desktops, "infinitely" scalable fonts, and scalable vector graphics as icons, low resolution displays simply cannot be justified by "I would have a hard time reading it". That's just flat false.

    The beauty of the higher pixel density displays is that, even at the same physical size of a button on screen (say 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch), word of text, icon, etc, there are more pixels to represent that object, and thus the object is clearer to the human perception. The dpi of printed material borders on 300-600 dpi, and IMO is much easier to read than anything on a monitor/display.

    I posit that the people that complain about not being able to see/read text on a high-resolution screen are either ignorant of font scaling, or are willfully stupid of it.

    Higher Resolution is ALWAYS better than lower resolution, simply because you can always increase the pixel size of the fonts to match the physical size of the fonts.
  • nexox - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    """Dude, you surely have microscope eyes, do you? I have a 13.3" 768p display and I cannot see the dots on it! I doubt there will be any real advantage if it was higher res.
    Higher resolution might make sense at 15" but it doesn't make any at 13!

    I bet your are just trolling and clueless!"""

    You may actually want glasses. Back in 2004 I had a laptop with 1280x800 in 10.6" (140 DPI,) and I still believe that's about the largest screen size appropriate for that resolution. I currently have a (rather crappy, due to cpu/gpu) netbook with 1280x768 in 8.9" (170 DPI,) and that's got a rather nice DPI, though it's still a bit cramped.

    On my desktop I run 120 DPI monitors, and I sit a regular distance away from them. For reference, 1920x1200 in 24" is about 100 DPI, and 2560x1440 in 27" is about 110 DPI. People do regularly tell me that it's impossible to read things on my desktop, so I guess I may have decent vision (with glasses.)

    In any case, I use a laptop screen much closer to me than my desktop, and so 120 DPI (1366x768 in 13.3") seems rather crappy. Plus, 768 vertical pixels just isn't enough. For my use, 1600x900 is about the minimum for 13.3" (140 DPI,) and 1080p in 13.3" (165 DPI) would be amazing.

    Doesn't look like anyone wants to sell that configuration to me for a reasonable price in the near future.
  • HanzNFranzen - Thursday, April 19, 2012 - link

    It's more about visible area on the screen than pixel density. I too, stopped reading at 768p.
  • snuuggles - Thursday, April 19, 2012 - link

    +1. -- just exactly right

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