HP Folio: Finally, An Ultrabook That Doesn't Blatantly Rip Off The MacBook Air [REVIEW]

hp folio 13

Photo: Dylan Love

HP’s 13-inch Folio is the company’s latest entry in the Ultrabook category, which captured a lot of attention at this year’s Consumer’s Electronics Show.If you’re unfamiliar, Ultrabooks are sleek, extra-slim computers that weigh as little as possible while still maintaining full computer functionality.

They compete directly with Apple’s MacBook Air and tend to clone its look and feel. This is where the Folio makes a pleasant departure from other Ultrabooks — it has its own style and doesn’t attempt to fit into some sort of Apple mould.

Keep reading for my full review.

Or click here for pictures of the HP Folio >
Ultrabook design usually piggybacks on that of the MacBook Air, but HP seemed to go for their own thing this time. The plastic body is a brushed aluminium colour that feels a little cheap to the touch. This became especially apparent when I realised the case scuffs entirely too easily — after carrying it loose in my bag (with nothing else in there), it came out with some ugly black scratches on it.

Despite the easily-tainted body, the computer is pleasantly thin and light, weighing in at a mere 3.3 pounds. It’s effortless and delightful to carry around. But if you’re doing any degree of travelling with the Folio, I strongly recommend getting some serious protection for it unless you fancy some unattractive scuffs on your nice new computer.

The display is sharp and clear, but under the fluorescent lights in the Business Insider offices, glare posed a mild problem. The emphasis here is on mild — it’s nothing you haven’t dealt with before.

The keyboard was a comfy fit for my hands, but I have one complaint about it: a key in the upper-right corner activates and deactivates your Wi-Fi. If you’re a little clumsy, you’ll accidentally hit this key and knock out your Internet connection. I know I did several times, which is why I always prefer a software solution to this, not a button that might as well be labelled “press here for an inconvenience.”

The first thing I noticed was the quick boot time on this guy. I loved it. This is made possible by the Intel Core i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM that come standard. In short, if you’re a word processing and spreadsheet junkie, the Folio is more than capable for you.

Microsoft fans will be right at home with Windows 7, coming conveniently preloaded. Plus the Folio will upgrade to Windows 8 when it launches this fall.

How does 9 hours of battery life sound? Road warriors will love being able to do a full day’s work on a single charge.

I was pretty quickly turned off by the third party crapware that comes with it — garbage like that only takes up hard drive space and manufacturers need to realise that an educated consumer wants nothing to do with any of it. I recommend uninstalling all of it right away. After that, you’ve got an excellent (but slightly delicate) computer that will serve you well for a number of applications.

Should you buy it?
Given that the HP Folio is zippy, lightweight, and super-portable, I’m comfortable encouraging Windows users to pick this up as their next Ultrabook. It’s currently going for just under $900 on Amazon, and that’s a decent value.

If “mobile professional” even slightly describes you, you’ll do very well with this one.

Remember to treat it delicately! Get a case!

I like the small footprint, but notice those black marks on the body.

The profile is pleasantly slender.

You're ready for work if you can look past the slight screen glare.

There's that pesky Wi-Fi button that you might accidentally trigger.

USB and headphone ports on the right side.

Power, Ethernet, HDMI, USB, and SD card slot on the left side.

A teaser of some of the obnoxious crapware you have to wade through when you first boot it up.

It's light enough to carry around comfortably.

But powerful enough to feel like a fully-functional computer. That's what it is, after all.

Don't miss the computer that got our Apple-centric editor excited about Windows...

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.