HP Folio 13 review – powerful and affordable, but with place for improvement
When we are thinking of HP, out mind directly goes to cheaper laptops, notebooks and netbooks which don’t actually manage to impress when it comes to performance or build quality. Things have changed now, with HP launching the HP Folio 13, a very good device for business and leisure. It comes with a powerful Intel Core i5 CPU and many other details which we are going to discuss about today in this review.
If you are here searching for an affordable ultrabook, then you have landed in the right place. The HP Folio 13 has a $850-ish price tag which makes it very appealing for the average user. Let’s start off with the specs of this device, but if you are eager to buy it check the Price and Availability section outlined below.
- Screen: LED backlit 13.3 inch with a resolution of 1366 x 768px
- Processor: Intel Core i5-2467M processor running at 1.6GHz
- Memory: 4GB DDR3 at 1333MHz in one slot
- Storage Space: 128GB SSD
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0
- Operating System: Windows 7 Professional 64 bit
- Ports: USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Ethernet port, full-size HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack and an SD card reader
Design, Body and Build
When you first take a look at the HP Folio 13 you will not be that amazed. I know I wasn’t either, because HP seems to not have invested too much time in the exterior of this device. You will get brushed aluminum top and palm rest, while the bottom of the Folio 13 is made from plastic. Overall, the ultrabook is nice, but it doesn’t really sweep us off our feet like the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s did.
As for portability, the HP Folio 13 is also not the most portable gadget you can get. HP has gone with the same thickness all over the length of the ultrabook, so even if 0.7 inches (18mm) isn’t that much, you can feel it once you put your hand on the device. The Folio 13 is also a bit heavier, weighing in 3.3lb (1.5 kg), so if you want a very portable gadget then try the business alternative, the Lenovo U300s and the Toshiba Z835 Portege.
Display and Audio
Even if we expected a lot from the screen of the HP Folio 13, to be honest, we were a little disappointed. The 13.3 inch panel with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels is pretty standard for ultrabooks these days and doesn’t really stand out that much, but when looking at the details you will see why this is not the best device you can get for movies.
The first thing which comes to mind is the glossy finish of the screen that creates some glare when put into direct sunlight. We have seen this problem on many ultrabooks and we are not complaining too much about it, but when you factor in the very dim backlighting things start to get ugly. With the backlighting at 100% we could barely see anything on the Folio 13, so this is actually the biggest deal-breaker of this device.
On the other hand, the audio performance is decent. Sound is very clear, with good but not great volume. You will be able to enjoy a movie if you are at home, but once you get into a noisier environment headphones are a must.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard of the HP Folio 13 is one of the best we have seen on ultrabooks these days. They are well spaced and feel just right, without being too hard or soft. The travel distance is good, much better adjusted than on the Asus Zenbook line of ultrabooks we have reviewed lately. We were expecting HP to come with a good keyboard, but the Folio 13 has really managed to rise up to our expectations.
As an extra, the keyboard of the HP Folio 13 is backlit, but unfortunately you will not be able to adjust the backlighting level. This sounds like looking a gift horse in the mouth, but when working in the dark, I have noticed a glare in my glasses which could go away by dimming the keyboard backlighting a bit. Still, very good device for typing.
Looking at the trackpad, you will see that HP has gone with a clickable one. Overall, the trackpad is very accurate and responsive, without having any problems when it comes to the way your mouse moves across the screen. Multi-touch gestures also work great, but when you’ll have to click you’ll notice that it’s rather stiff. Clicking requires more pressure, so it’s actually best to get a regular mouse with this device.
Hardware Specs and Overall Performance
Performance-wise, the HP Folio 13 packs an Intel Core i5-2467M ULV processor with Intel HD 3000 graphics and 4GB DDR3 memory running at 1333MHz. In practice the Folio is somewhere in the middle of its class, but without too much of a bang. It will handle everyday multitasking such as browsing, document editing and movies without a problem, but don’t think you’re going to play the latest game titles on the Folio 13. You can play some games though, but the Intel HD 3000 graphics card has its limitations.
Storage on the HP Folio 13 is on a 128GB SSD card which packs quire a speed punch. You will get very fast boot and resume times, as well as good transfer rates. We were expecting it to have more storage options with both a 64GB and 256GB SSDs, but it seems like HP has gone for a single configuration on the Folio 13, probably to get the price point as low as possible.
OS, Battery Life and Special Features
The HP Folio 13 comes preinstalled with Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64bit and a bunch of bloat-ware that won’t get you too far. They are nice if you are a businessman wanting to get some extra security for instance, but for the everyday user they are not too useful.
There’s a big 59W battery inside the Folio 13 which manages to give a good 7-hour battery life on average. In reality, you will manage to push the ultrabook over the 7-hour battery life if you only use it for light text editing without wireless. Nevertheless, you will also drain it in 6 hours or less if you put it to work on gaming, movie editing or some CAD rendering.
In terms of ports, the HP Folio 13 has plenty to offer: you have USB 3.0, USB 2.0, full sized HDMI port, Ethernet port, a standard headphone jack and a card reader. Connectivity on the other hand is standard, with Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0.
Price and Availability
If you want an affordable ultrabook, then the HP Folio 13 has a very good starting price point. For $858.00 the HP Folio 13-1020US found here on Amazon will offer you the Intel Core i5 CPU with 4GB of RAM and the 128GB SSD. Only having the SSD is worth that money, so it’s probably the best performance-price device you can find at this point.
We really lined the performance combination, and even if it has some minuses regarding the screen, other components compensate and give you a better option than the Acer Aspire S3 or the Toshiba Z835 Portege.
To sum up, the HP Folio 13 is a device we really enjoyed reviewing. By looking at the powerful CPU, fast SSD and overall good case we manage to overlook the screen and the touchpad, which to be honest are the only things dragging this device down in the rankings.
How does the Folio 13 stack up with the competition?! Well, it depends on how you put it. From our point of view we include it over the Acer Aspire S3, but under the Toshiba Z835 Portege, and of course under the top of the line Lenovo U300s or the Asus Zenbooks.