HP Folio 13

Great build quality, phenomenal battery life and a lovely keyboard/touch pad combo make HP's Folio 13 one of our favourite ultrabooks.


8.5
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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Just in time for Christmas, HP outs its ultrabook, the Folio 13 — and it's good.

It's a little on the tubby side for an ultrabook, at 1.49kg, but only just, and it makes up for it by having incredibly good, rigid build quality. It's not quite the "pick up from the corner of the screen" rigidness that the MacBook Air possesses, but there's still reassuringly little flex.

The 1366x768, 13.3-inch screen is passable — it looks a little washed out, and the vertical viewing angles are narrow, as to be expected with cheap TN screens — but it isn't offensively bad by any means. What is curious is HP's "bezel in a bezel" set-up, where a glossy black rim sits inside a matte black rim, the ultimate effect making the screen look smaller than it is.

The gloss bezel inside the matte bezel makes the screen look smaller than it is.
(Credit: CBS Interactive)

The backlit keyboard and the touch pad are lovely, making this a laptop you'll be happy to use for long bouts. HP's inverted the F1-F12 keys, so their alternate functions (screen brightness, volume, external monitor switching, etc) are now the primary functions. To get F1-F12, you'll need to hold down the Fn key. If you don't like this, it can be switched back in the BIOS.

You get the usual single USB 3.0 and single USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and an SD card reader with the Folio, as expected, along with a headset port. A nice addition, though, is a gigabit Ethernet, something otherwise only offered by Toshiba Satellite Z830 in the ultrabook space. Bizarrely, HP has chosen to put the port labels under the laptop, and, since it has chosen not to use a blue-coloured tongue for the USB 3.0 port, this means that you may need to lift the laptop to remind you which side it's on.

Internals are typical fare; an Intel Core i5 2467 @ 1.6GHz, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB Samsung SSD. Communications are offered via Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n 2.4GHz.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia

Handbrake encoding (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)


The Handbrake results are strange — despite having almost identical hardware to the Toshiba, the Folio really doesn't like our video encoding test. After trying to track down the root cause, we can only grasp at this straw: HP's heat management perhaps isn't the best, causing the processor to slow down more than usual under extreme load.

In day-to-day use, this is unlikely to impact you too much, but if you plan on putting your ultrabook through the hard yards, it's something to look out for. We've got in touch with HP to see if we can find the core issue, and hopefully we'll have more information soon.

Things return to normalcy with our iTunes and Photoshop benchmark, returning results within margin of error compared to the Toshiba. But the multimedia multitasking test, which includes Handbrake, penalises the HP once again.

Battery life

Battery life (time)

  • Heavy battery test
  • Light battery test

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


The HP far and away dominates the battery benchmark test. While companies have been advertising "all-day" battery life for some time, it looks like the reality might slowly be catching up with the marketing.

Conclusion

Great build quality, phenomenal battery life and a lovely keyboard/touch pad combo make HP's Folio 13 one of our favourite ultrabooks. It doesn't perform as well under extreme load as its competition — we're hoping this curly problem is something that can be addressed by HP in the future. As of now, though, for day-to-day use, this is our go-to machine.

See more on how we test PCs here.



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LeifAlbor
9
Rating
 

"Not spectacular in any one area - but on the whole a great unit"

LeifAlbor posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Overall aesthetic, battery life, good all rounder

The Bad:Screen falls slightly short, fan noise can be destracting, up/down keys half size

It's a shame that HP seem to have discontinued the Folio range in favour of the Envy, because it's difficult not to like this thing.
I bought the "little sister" Folio 13 with an i3 processor inside. This variant is difficult to find now, but ~$150-200 cheaper at a sacrifice of 200 MHz and otherwise identical specification between the two models.

The unfortunate thing of the Folio is that other than the battery life, it doesn't excel in any one field. What it does offer, is a great "all round" unit.

Overall performance feels zippy on this unit. While neither the i3/i5 CPU nor 4GB RAM are going to set performance records – programs open quickly and run responsively.

As the main review pointed out, the double bezel around the screen is distracting, and actually had me absentmindedly thinking the onscreen picture had been letter/pillar-boxed on a few occasions. As far as the actual screen is concerned - viewing angles are slim, and the picture doesn't quite "pop"; but otherwise the picture is certainly passable.

The SSD is allows for a fast and responsive bootup, but at 128GB to begin with - it's already on the smaller size before you even take into account the recovery partition, and "hybrid sleep" eating into your storage. Once this is taken into account, you're left with about ~95GB of usable space left. I’ve read elsewhere that the HDD is only SSD2, not 3; which is a shame considering the SSD is such a compelling argument for this model, over other ultrabooks with mechanical/hybrid drives.

I’m still undecided on the keyboard and touchpad. While the keyboard is definitely a pleasure to type on, I find the backlighting not much more than a novelty - with the backlight noticeably “bleeding” around the keys as well as through the key labels themselves. I’m still at loathe with the “half height” up/down directional keys, and the lack of dedicated Home, End, Page Up and Page Down keys. The former seems to be a pitfall of various other ultrabooks, and the latter only accessibly when used in conjunction with the Fn key. As someone who is used to navigating websites using these keys, I’ve been forced to compromise using touchpad scrolling; which I’m still adjusting to.
The touchpad itself is comfortable to use, however clicking using the bottom corners of the touchpad is stiff and uncomfortable.

As mentioned above, the chassis feels rigid and well built, though I’ve noticed the edges of the brushed aluminium on the front corners are quite sharp where they meet the rubberised plastic lower casing. Other reviews have highlighted the Folio 13’s comparative heaviness to other ultrabooks – but in the hand it certainly feels light, comfortable and sturdy.

The conclusion to this is that HP has succeeded in building a phenomenal ultrabook relative to its price. Few aspects of its design are setting benchmarks within the ultrabook sector, however compared with other brands in the lower portion of the ultrabook sector, the Folio 13 doesn’t disappoint.

claire_123
9
Rating
 

"Near perfect!"

claire_123 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:great battery life, quick to start up, light and compact

The Bad:reflective screen, loud fan noise

Despite what many reviews say I don't find this laptop to be lacking in appearance at all. Even though it may not taper at the edges like others it's still quite thin. It's a great size and weight, perfect for me as I use it at university and need something light to carry across campus.
The battery life it great too, usually lasts around 7-8hrs.Track-pad is also good with no functionality issues.
My only big issue is how reflective the screen is. I can nearly always see myself in it no matter what I'm doing. Turning up brightness helps but that chews up battery.
Also the fan can get really loud at times when I've used it for long periods. It's a little distracting but not a huge downturn considering.
Overall I love this laptop and think it's a great purchase for a great price if you shop around. Fantastic for students like me too.

CameronW Facebook
8
Rating
 

"great purchase"

CameronW posted a review   

The Good:excellent backlit keyboard, battery life, zippy processor

The Bad:larger SSD would be nice. port labels are on the under side

Just bought the 1008tu a few days ago. early signs are very very good. went for the second gen core i5 over the core i3, adds a nice zippy feel.
was strongly considering the Spectre but the price was over the top, although the gorrilla glass looked nice.
the keyboard is the best i've used and the backlit keys add a nice touch.
the battery life is a huge selling point, easily get 8 hours out of with the screen brightness turned down.
a bigger SSD is my only gripe, however putting in a 256gb SSD would have put the cost up, so I'm happy with the trade off.
USB 3.0 is a godsend when backing up hundreds of images from my digital SLR.

All in all a great ultrabook, couldn't quite wait for windows 8 or the new line of intel chips... but Hp's first foray into ultrabooks is a winner!

 

CampbellS posted a comment   

To pricey. I was in Jibi Hifi and they had ultrabooks for 990 dollars - I think acer. Looked good.




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User Reviews / Comments  HP Folio 13

  • LeifAlbor

    LeifAlbor

    Rating9

    "It's a shame that HP seem to have discontinued the Folio range in favour of the Envy, because it's difficult not to like this thing.
    I bought the "little sister" Folio 13 with an i3 processor..."

  • claire_123

    claire_123

    Rating9

    "Despite what many reviews say I don't find this laptop to be lacking in appearance at all. Even though it may not taper at the edges like others it's still quite thin. It's a great size and weight,..."

  • CameronW

    CameronW

    Rating8

    "Just bought the 1008tu a few days ago. early signs are very very good. went for the second gen core i5 over the core i3, adds a nice zippy feel.
    was strongly considering the Spectre but the p..."

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