Tactical Advice

Review: The HP Folio 13 Ultrabook Blends the Best of Tablets and Notebooks

HP Folio 13 Ultrabook blends the best of both worlds.
This story appears in the Fall 2012 issue of BizTech Magazine.
Review: The HP Folio 13 Ultrabook Blends the Best of Tablets and Notebooks

Looking for the sweet spot between portability and functionality? HP's Folio 13 packs the power of a notebook into a super lightweight device with the footprint of a tablet.

While the Folio 13 is slightly thicker than the Apple iPad — 0.7 inch for the Folio versus 0.5 inch for the iPad — and at 3.3 pounds, is twice as heavy, HP's device bests the iPad by including a keyboard, a larger screen, and Ethernet and USB ports.

As ultrabooks go, the Folio 13 weighs about 5 ounces more than the MacBook Air, but its weight and thickness are about half that of today's workhorse notebooks. Because the ultrabook form factor demands some sacrifices, there is no internal optical drive.

To keep the size and weight down, the Folio 13 uses a 128-gigabyte solid-state drive instead of a hard disk.

End-User Advantages

With a reported battery life of 9.5 hours, the Folio 13 appeals to highly mobile workers who need to type and require a bigger screen than what's typically found on a tablet. In addition, the Folio 13 can connect to projectors, external disk drives and wired networks, which makes it far more flexible than most tablets.

The flat keyboard saves space, and while it might take a few minutes for experienced typists to get used to, it works well. The keys offer good tactile feedback and are backlit for use in dim light. Not satisfied with being just a substitute mouse, the touchpad does more than just direct the cursor — it also responds to conventional multitouch gestures, including pinch-to-zoom, rotation, swiping and tapping. HP also offers a USB docking station that positions the ultrabook at an angle more conducive to typing.

Why It Works for IT

The Folio 13 provides most of what IT departments want from a Windows computer, including an easy learning curve. The device runs the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional and includes the starter version of Microsoft Office, which means it can be used in limited form and have the full version turned on when the license key is entered. This reduces the configuration time usually required for a new Windows 7 device to only a few minutes.

13.3 inches Screen size of the HP Folio 13

Perhaps most important, the ultrabook contains a Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) security chip in the models sold to government users. In addition, the dual-core i5 1.6 gigahertz processor has turbo-boost capabilities up to 2.3GHz and features the Intel Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (AES-NI) set.

The Folio 13 supports Gigabit Ethernet wired networking as well as 802.11n wireless networking. The wired setup was automatic, and the wireless setup was about as painless as possible. A built-in camera and microphone make it possible to use the device with applications such as ­Microsoft Communicator or WebEx for video conferencing.

Disadvantages

The touchpad proved unresponsive to some users, and it did not always respond smoothly when using multitouch. However, it appears to use capacitive touch technology, which means, among other things, that it works nicely with a stylus designed for an iPad.

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About the Author

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a longtime technology journalist who has directed product testing centers. He is President of Wayne Rash & Associates, an analysis and editorial services firm located near Washington, D.C. He can be reached at wrash@mindspring.com. You can also follow him on Twitter as @wrash.

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