HP EliteBook Folio 9470m Ultrabook Review: Ultrabooks in Enterpriseby Dustin Sklavos on March 29, 2013 12:01 AM EST
In and Around the HP EliteBook Folio 9470m
If you've kept up with my reviews of HP's EliteBook line you're not going to find any surprises here with the Folio 9470m. The current styling has been working out fairly well for HP and still feels like it stands head and shoulders above what Dell is doing with their notebooks. Outside of the XPS line I feel like Dell's aesthetics on virtually all of their lines, consumer and enterprise alike, have gone almost completely off the rails. The current generation Inspirons look like Speak-and-Spells, while Precision notebooks look like cheap knock-offs of ThinkPads from ten years ago. Placed in that company, the EliteBook line looks positively futuristic.
With all that said, though, the current design motif of HP's EliteBooks is beginning to wear out its welcome. The machined aluminum lid and body is coupled with black plastic on the keyboard and display bezel. The bottom of the body is comprised of what feels like black carbon fiber, though it could just as well be well-treated plastic. Either way, the machine as a whole feels very sturdy, but I do feel like it's time to move on.
I continue to be pleased with how HP has been handling the backlit keyboard and especially the smooth glass surface of the touchpad; HP's keyboard layout is traditional, comfortable, and easy to use. Key depth is good, flex is minimal. There's a trackpoint in the center of the keyboard, traditional for enterprise notebooks, and the touchpad is large and roomy. Ironically, the recessed touchpad was more desirable in the Windows 7 era; with Windows 8, edge gestures are harder to perform. Truthfully, though, I'm kind of done with chiclet keyboards. They work fine for the most part, but I'd like to see at least enterprise systems go back to traditional keyboards.
HP really takes care of the enterprise customer with the 9470m, though, and they do that in four ways: continuing to employ SmartCard readers, offering a side-mounting docking bay (the notebook is too thin to use the bottom-mounting ones, so HP is transitioning to these), offering a bottom-mounting slice battery, and making the ultrabook totally user serviceable (complete with replaceable battery).
Opening up the 9470m is a bit of a chore as you have to unscrew and remove the panels in a specific order, but you can see that overall it's a pretty smart and efficient layout. Everything you'd be able to replace in a traditional notebook, short of the CPU, can be replaced in the 9470m without too much hassle. Honestly this is one of those things I wish I'd see a little more frequently in consumer notebooks; only enthusiast-class units are really this user friendly anymore.
I also had a chance to try out the slice battery and dock. The dock feels just a touch loose, but it only blocks the VGA and ethernet ports on the notebook (which it replaces), and in exchange brings a tremendous amount of flexibility, including four USB 3.0 ports and an additional DisplayPort. I also like how the bottom of the dock allows you to mount it to the wall if you're so inclined.
The slice battery, on the other hand, can be a lot more fiddly. Once it's locked in, it's locked in, but getting the notches to line up and securely tilt in was abnormally frustrating. I was able to, and I suspect with practice it wouldn't be an issue, but the difficulty is nonetheless worth mentioning. The 60Wh slice battery does add at least a pound of heft to the 9470m; this was already a pretty light notebook so that's not a huge deal, but it's very noticeable.
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Colin1497 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkDoes anyone actually pay list price for this stuff? When I was last involved in IT budgets, Dell used to give us pretty steep discounts on everything and we were a relatively small company. I'd guess that loyal HP customers pay $1000 or less for this $1300 laptop, or more likely, right around $1300 with all the upgrades you'd expect (screen, RAM, etc.)
gostan - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkSo, the razer edge with a 13x7 display @ 2k is an interesting beginning. the elitebook folio with a 13x7 display at 1.4k is not ok?
marc1000 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link338mm x 231mm x 18.9 is not groundbreaking compared to 329mm x 226mm x 23.8-27.8mm, found on the LG P430 released 2 years ago with a Sandy Bridge CPU. sure it thinner, but it is not smaller in any other dimension. I guess the wheight would be more of an advance. It is a nice evolution though, it just has to happen to ALL notebooks, including the cheaper ones.
darwinosx - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkIt is ridiculous and ignorant to say Apple inflates their prices. Thats the sort of linkbait and immature comment I would expect to see on Engadget, not Anandtech. They have some custom components, much higher quality panels that they actually calibrate, and far superior service and support and quality control which costs money.
You can buy a 13-inch retina display Macbook for as little as $1299. Show me a PC laptop that remotely approaches that. Plus you still have to use Microsoft's latest mediocrity of an OS.
Asmodian - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkApple's margins are much higher than the industry norm. It costs them less to make their devices than they sell them for compared to other manufacturers. What else would you call it?
scottish_usa - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkAs a business consultant I've been a road warrior for the past 16 years or so and a good dependable laptop is key. I have had a couple of iterations of the HP EliteBook for the past two years and they are rock solid. Quiet, light, sturdy, reliable and with good battery life. I'd take a thinkpad over this if the option was there but compared to the lucklustre offerings of Dell this is a good work machine.
As with most, I dock and use a large bright LCD panel at work. In meetings it's connected to a 1080p conference room projector. The built in panel only gets used if I am working remote or using it in transit.
Specs don't tell you the full story and you don't really think a customer buying 1000 units pays full retail do you ?
Little Elephant - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkMy previous Fujitsu NOTEBOOK is lighter, cheaper, have a bigger volume of hard drive and not the less battery life than this "Ultrabook". What's wrong with hp's engineering?
gamoniac - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkI agree with the other readers. Why waste our time and bandwidth reviewing a laptop with 768P screen? Sorry, Dustin, but I skipped this article. Thanks for your time.
bradcollins - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkI have sold a handful of these to our business customers over the last 6 months and I completely agree with the review, the laptop is well put together and being an ultrabook with a dock is the main reason why we sell them. The feature I like the most is that they actually have buttons for the touchpads which actually work unlike the horrible clickpads most companies seem to use in Ultrabooks - maybe due to the overall depth of the notebook?
We have just sold a 9470m with a 1600x900 screen, the 1366x768 screen is complete crap and when I saw the higher res panel get launched a few weeks ago I got quite excited. This one will be about the highest spec one can buy, an i7 3687u, 8gb ram, 256gb ssd (I assume it will be a micron) and of course the 1600x900 screen.
The 1600x900 screen still has crappy viewing angles according to HP's specification sheet, so I don't expect I'll be amazed by it, but at least it will have a larger resolution
The0ne - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkCan't agree with you and others more on this subject. It's depressing and ludicrous to see laptops like these. This unit is 3.5+lbs, that's not an ultrabook. The screen is a real shame and anyone in their right mind shouldn't be buying this at all. This is one where I will agree to some boycotting via your wallet :)