With the Folio 13, HP arrives both a bit late and a bit heavy to the ultrabook party.
While the Folio looks quite svelte, it is technically over the weight limit Intel has set for ultrabooks. The official limit is 3.1 lbs, and the Folio tips the scales at 3.3 lbs, so it’s a stretch to use that term as a descriptive. It’s hardly back-breaking, but compared to featherweight machines like the 2.4-pound Toshiba Portege Z835, it’s absolutely huge.
Apart from heft, you’ll find its feature set to be typical of ultrabooks: 1.6GHz Core i5, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD hard drive, and a 13.3-inch screen at 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. The chiclet keyboard is backlit and fairly comfortable, the only layout concern being the oddly designed arrow-key panel. Ports include HDMI, two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card slot, and a full-size Ethernet port.
The touchpad is a bit of a mess. While it’s spacious and responsive, the built-in buttons are extremely stiff to the point of unusability. You’ll quickly turn to tapping instead of clicking on this system … perhaps until you break down and spring for an external mouse.
The good news: Performance is exceptional, especially for a machine that barely tops $1,000. Despite its humble CPU, the Folio 13 cranked out solid benchmark numbers across the board and even managed to turn in respectable gaming figures, despite relying on integrated graphics for its video processing. Compared to the aforementioned Portege, scores were 20 to 30 percent better on most of my tests.
The one downside to this was that the fan on the Folio whined so loudly when it was under heavy load that I thought I was going to have to relent and give the thing its blankie already.
Oddly, HP is positioning the Folio 13 as both a consumer and a business notebook, and given its no-nonsense design, that makes sense. There’s even a version you can buy with a TPM chip inside for the crypto-obsessed guys in the IT department. The version sold through most consumer outlets, however, has a mountain of shovelware preinstalled — “HP Games,” an eBay icon, and two apps for streaming and creating music. The commercial/business versions don’t have any of these preloaded apps.