|Review: HP Folio 13|
Thursday, 03 May 2012 10:10
With a solid state drive and impressive battery life, the Folio 13 is ideal for business use.
The Folio 13 is Hewlett-Packard`s answer to the much-touted Dell Ultrabook. With the Folio 13, HP is targeting mobile professionals, students and small business owners. Boasting a solid state drive and a battery that lasts a full working day, the device is arguably dead on target.
However, the Folio fell short in the display and sound department, and without a CD drive, I found it didn`t match up to my standards for personal use.
Look and feel
A mere 18mm thin and weighing less than 1.5kg, the Folio 13 is one of the slimmest laptops on the market. The incredibly compact design lets users slip it into the smallest of briefcases.
The Folio 13`s sleek metallic case gives it an elegant, but business-like feel. The design is incredibly simple, with black finishes complementing the metallic casing. The track-pad is also flush with the laptop`s surface, giving the Folio a sleek feel.
The rubberised bottom ensures the laptop sits sturdy on most surfaces, yet it is also comfortable on the user`s lap. Ports are placed on the left-hand-side, with an extra USB slot and audio input on the right.
All in all, I found the clean and simple design of the Folio incredibly pleasing to the eye, while it maintains functionality.
The Folio 13 comes with the user-friendly Windows 7 preinstalled.
Setting up the laptop is pretty easy, with step-by-step instructions as well as a shortcut that helps users transfer files from another computer. Users can also easily customise the interface, choosing their own backgrounds, colours, sounds and screensavers.
The keys on the backlit keyboard are well spaced, allowing for easy typing, even in low light conditions, which is essential for mobile workers who have to grab any opportunity to do some work.
Another plus for mobile workers is the battery life. HP says the Folio lasts up to nine-and-a-half-hours with constant usage. I found the laptop easily lasted a full workday, which involved Internet browsing, e-mailing and word-processing, as well as the odd YouTube video.
Hovering over the battery icon on the bottom-right corner of the screen gives a fairly accurate indication of how much battery life is left.
Of course, only time will tell how long the battery continues to deliver this level of performance, and I had to (begrudgingly) give the laptop back.
The track-pad is definitely one of the best features of the Folio. Using the laptop without a mouse is still an absolute pleasure because of the track-pad`s responsiveness.
Under the hood
Despite its slim size, the Folio 13 packs some serious power. It features Intel Rapid Start Technology and boots up in less than 30 seconds. This is a definite win and a must for business use.
The laptop runs on a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core processor and also boasts a solid state drive. This ensures fast performance, with applications starting up in seconds, even when multiple programs are running.
The Folio 13 comes with 128GB of storage. This should be more than adequate for business use, especially given that most people keep a portable drive on hand to store video files. Provided users aren`t aiming to store their music libraries on the Folio, the internal storage will more than suffice.
The Folio 13 supports Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. The laptop also supports Intel`s Wireless Display (WiDi), so users can transmit video and audio to HDTV.
It also features HDMI, RJ-45 and USB 3.0 ports. It does not, however, have a CD drive. Then again, this did not annoy me as much as it would have a year ago, as CDs are becoming near obsolete in the work environment. However, this does mean users won`t be able to back up their music collections on the Folio 13 without forking out for an external CD drive.
Display and sound
The 13.3-inch display delivers a 1366x768 pixel resolution. For the most part, the display delivered high definition with good contrast.
However, colours could have been brighter, and the narrow viewing angle was incredibly vexing. While the display is fine when users are directly in front of the laptop, it changes with even the slightest shift to the side. This also means that sharing the display is impossible.
Of course, this was irritating while watching series in bed (yes, I do that too sometimes). Given that business users will seldom need to share the display – apart from showing a colleague the odd funny e-mail – the change in brightness and contrast should not be an issue.
The Folio 13 comes with Dolby Advanced Studio, which delivers sufficient audio for business use. Users wanting to play music from the laptop might want to invest in extra speakers because, although it can go quite loud, the sound doesn`t remain clear.
That said, most users are unlikely to pick this up while watching a video.
In a nutshell
The Folio 13 is a great laptop, delivering enough power to keep most executives happy. At the same time, its slim design and long-lasting battery make it a great choice for the mobile worker. At just under R13 000, it`s a pricey machine, but I`d say it`s well worth it.
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