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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B3an - Friday, March 29, 2013 - linkDon't bother reviewing this junk in the future. It don't deserve the publicity.
chanman - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - linkSpeaking of chiclet keyboards, I just took a look at Lenovo's website and... when did they roll out chiclets across all their model lines? Time ones was, only the near-consumer Edges and sub 12" ultraportables had them, but it looks like its standard now, even on their W-class mobile workstations
meacupla - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - linkabout a year ago when all their older models were retired.
Chiclet keys or not are really minor points compared to layout. Left side getting full keys or right side having an easy to hit enter and shift is way more important than chiclet or not.
JDG1980 - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - linkAgree with everyone else - at this price point, 1366x768 TN is an absolute deal-breaker, completely inexcusable. The *minimum* acceptable standard should be 1080p IPS. You can get away with a cheap panel on a $299 bargain-basement special, but they have no place in Ultrabooks.
lo2dk - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - linkuseless display resolution is useless display resolution
antiocles - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - linkI work inside a certain company that uses exclusively HP notebooks for the employees. It amazes me how many people will, as the first thing they do on a new computer, drop the resolution down to ridiculously low levels with badly distorted text. They don't seem to be able to read larger text, and have grown used to the distortion. I cringe every time I see someone with a nice high res IPS screen on their mobile workstation running down at these resolutions.
We all here agree that this screen is crap and worthless, but I know there are a surprisingly large number of workers in the enterprise market that look at a higher res screen as a downside... :-(
StrangerGuy - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - linkThat's why bargain basement laptops keep selling, most users simply don't care and won't pay for quality.
The real joke however is Intel thinks they can take those, put in a smaller form factor then jack up the price so much and expect to sell crazy numbers like iPhone 4 did.
danbi - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - linkLet's leave the crappy display alone, no one caring about the productivity of their workers will buy such when better are available.
But one other thing continues to amaze me -- the obsession of those PC makers with proprietary docking solutions. Not only are they vendor proprietary, but they also change from model to model, even in the same generation! What is wrong with those people? Why not just stick to something like Thunderbolt and be done???
No Thunderbolt docks available? Then, why wait? Just build ONE Thunderbolt dock for all of your notebooks and have the market.
abrar - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - linkis it possible to use a pen on this device ? (the display is touchable, right ?)
SteveLord - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - linkHere's how you can tell most of those commenting do not work in an enterprise environment, much less any sort of IT. Every time a business laptop is reviewed, they immediately focus on screen resolution and never let go of it.