From afar, there’s a chance you might even mistake the HP EliteBook Folio for a MacBook Air. If it wasn’t for the HP logo beautifully resting on the lid of the elite book, the thin build and aluminum chassis seem to have come straight from Apple factories. If anything, it looks more like a consumer ultrabook; it would seem that HP attempted to bring the sleek design of personal laptops in your work life as well. And the results look more than promising.
The HP Elite laptop packs not only great design, but performant hardware and architecture, as well as a number of great features suited for all of your office needs – whether we’re talking voice conference tweaks, privacy and data encryption or HP’s BIOSphere system for enterprises – meant to provide protection against malware for businesses.
Taking into consideration everything that you would ever need from a work laptop, there are quite a few candidates out there that could easily compete toe-to-toe with the HP EliteBook laptop so let’s take a closer look at every little nook and cranny of what our subject has to offer.
HP EliteBook Folio Design
Regarding this chapter, we’ve already stated the most obvious, eye-catching detail of them all. The solid aluminum and magnesium alloy that was used to build it looks simply amazing – with a smooth texture that remains cool even after prolonged usage – so resting your palms on the bottom end will never become uncomfortable. Everything about it looks highly professional – starting with the elegant reflective logo on its lid, the carefully framed keyboard and the Hewlett-Packard inscription right above the hinge when you open it.
If there’s a word that comes to mind when you look at the HP EliteBook Folio, it is “solid”. Everything seems very well and firmly put in place, with no gaps or weak spots to speak of in the unibody. The USB ports, power, headphones, microphone jacks as well as the microSD slot are directly cut into the sides. Considering that the base is made from one piece there’s literally no danger in damaging the areas near the ports.
One aspect that is worth mentioning is the EliteBook’s weight – at only 1.2 kilograms, this laptop is an easy winner. Not only that there’s few, if none other business laptops that even come close to such a light device, but the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 even competes with some consumer laptops in terms of how light and easily manageable it is. The MacBook Air design inspiration can be effortlessly noticed in the way the EliteBook Folio thins towards the bottom edge, giving the laptop an astonishing thickness of 15.7 millimeters.
The hinge shows no sign of being susceptible to wearing out easily – thanks to the one-piece centrally-placed joint, you will probably never encounter the frustrating wobble that sets in some laptop models after a few months of usage.
As you open the HP EliteBook Folio, you will immediately notice the black-toned island-style keyboard, the power button along with the discreet speakers as well as the trackpad and the fingerprint reader.
The sides of the laptop host 2 USB 3.0 ports – one on either side – as well as an HDMI port, a separate 3.5 mm headphone jack and the microSD slot. What we originally mistook for a full SD card slot is in fact an adapter for D-SUB and Ethernet output that can also be used for many other port replicators.
The bottom cover is made of magnesium alloy metal that holds the weight of the hardware inside nicely, but might prove to not be as solid as the aluminum used on the outer frame and lid as it tends to bend the tiniest bit under hard pressure. Still, it’s far from being a concern. All of the materials used for building the exterior is the HP EliteBook Folio are scratch resistant and have undergone 12 MIL-SPEC tests before being released on the market – claiming that the laptop is highly durable against humidity, dust, vibration and dropping according to the Military Specifications 810G certification.
HP EliteBook Folio Specifications & Hardware
Let’s delve a little deeper into what’s behind the beautiful exterior. Opening the notebook will allow you to remove the hard disk, the wireless card as well as battery. Nonetheless, the memory is directly connected to the board and cannot be taken out.
The HP EliteBook Folio features an Intel Core M-5Y51 processor – a two hyper-threaded core piece that is clocked to 1.1 GHz and can go up to a 2.6 GHz Turbo peak. It is not the greatest CPU out on the market, coming close when compared with the common Intel Core i5-2410M @ 2.30 GHz processor. It’s mid-range but it does its job well when it comes to any form of office work.
Along with the CPU you get the Intel’s HD Graphics 5300 integrated graphics processing unit. As long as your job does not involve video editing or heavy graphic rendering, you will not encounter any issue whatsoever. Surely, a dedicated GPU will always work better than an integrated card but that is not a feature that you will easily come across when browsing business laptops.
The HP Elite Book also packs an 8 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM at 1600 MHz RAM – which is more than plenty. You won’t encounter sluggish performance even with a dozen processes active at a given moment.
The hard-disk comes in several variations for the HP EliteBook Folio: you can either get a 128 GB, an 180 GB or an 256 GB SATA III HDD respectively on one hand, or one of the two self-encrypting drives available when purchasing – the 180 GB or 256 GB SATA III Self Encrypting Drive Opal 2 drives. While it may not be plenty of space for some users, do keep in mind that you still have the microSD slot – which nowadays can go as far as a staggering 512 extra gigabytes of storage space.
There is no CD/DVD/Blu-ray support to speak of in exchange, but the Folio features a dual-band 802.11ac wireless card as well as Bluetooth 4.0 and near field communication (NFC).
HP EliteBook Folio Features
Screen – The HP Elitebook Folio features a 12.5 inch screen that can go as far as 2560 x 1440 resolutions. Considering it’s a rather small display (or at least smaller than the more common 13” or 13.3”-sized notebooks), you will end up with no less than 235 ppi of pixel density – higher than many other comparable models, including the 13” MacBook Pro. While that is saying something, the Elite Book even goes as far as making use of a 1440p screen – superior to most ThinkPad or ZBook business laptops which feature 1080p screens.
One great aspect of Folio’s screen is that it sets its maximum, native resolution by default without the need for the operating system to get the best out of it. The screen has a 371-nit brightness which competes with MacBook Pro’s retina display making it extremely easy to render vivid, colorful and well-defined images even in sunlight and artificial lighting. Its 1,197:1 contrast ratio and black levels result in high image quality while the color accuracy and temperature are not as highly-rated: the screen’s color temperature is 7,823K which makes for cooler than average colors.
Sound – unless you’re making use of a separate headset and you have to rely on the HP EliteBook Folio speakers, the sound does not stand out in comparison to most laptops. Despite the carefully perforated speaker holes that can be found above the keyboard, the sound comes out at decent volume levels but may gain a certain degree of fuzziness as you turn it up to maximum. That’s something that you get from laptop speakers in general and normally only occurs at very high sound volume.
Keyboard – The keyboard of the HP Elitebook Folio 1020 G1 is probably one of the best featured in business laptops out there. With a perfect balance of responsiveness and even spacing between the keys, the keyboard is springy but may feel cramped and a little too small when you start using it. However, after you get used to the distances, it makes typing as fluent as you would have on any full-fledged keyboard. The keys caps are placed very close to the mechanism underneath, allowing the keyboard to sound muted and making it perfect for typing in quiet environments such as meeting rooms.
The keyboard does not feature a numpad. Nevertheless, the 81 keys on it are backlit and provide a good feedback when pressed.
One of the greatest things about HP EliteBook Folio’s keyboard is the fact that it was built to be spill-resistant. While this may sound like a generic thing laptop producers normally say with newer models, in Folio’s case it literally is spill resistant. By that we mean that the laptop has a built-in drain below the keyboard where the fluid gets quickly collected should the otherwise-catastrophic event occur. That prevents any form of damage to the data and the keyboard itself if you happen to have an accident.
Trackpad – the trackpad of the HP EliteBook Folio is also a great and nifty little detail. It incorporates one of the latest Synaptics technology known as ForcePad. It is very similar to the one used in Force Touch which you might have encountered or heard of in a number of Apple devices. The trackpad has no buttons and cannot be pressed down on, but instead it measures the amount of pressure you apply to it and responds accordingly.
Using a MacBook trackpad for the first time for example can feel a little confusing and unsatisfactory, given that you mostly rely on taps rather than the clicks that would normally mimic a mouse. Take the HP EliteBook Folio trackpad and you will find yourself in the same situation. Not only that the ForcePad provides no tactile feedback whatsoever, but it comes with an entire set of gestures and multi-finger taps that will help you navigate around your operating system. Instead of the feedback you normally get with a touchpad that you can press on, the laptop plays clicking sounds using the in-built speakers.
If navigation using the trackpad is too confusing, have no worry. The HP EliteBook Folio comes with an application that will walk you through all the things you can do with it step-by-step. It also allows you to customize the trackpad functionality according to pressure applied and different finger motions on it.
Fingerprint reader – when you first start using the HP EliteBook Folio, you are guided to start setting up your data protection by recording your fingerprint. Naturally, this is an optional feature and can, by any means, be skipped. However, should you decide to use it, it will make some things a little easier here and there. For example, once your identity has been set up and your fingerprint associated to it, you can easily access programs and features that require a log in by a simple swipe over the fingerprint reader.
Rest assured – if you, at any point, wish to stop using this feature or decide that you won’t wish for your fingerprint to be recorded, you can remove all your fingerprint credentials immediately.
Data encryption & security – the EliteBook laptop comes with several iterations of enterprise security. The TPM 1.2/2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) from Infineon is a microprocessor designed to secure hardware by integrating cryptographic keys into devices. Along with TPM, the laptop also has the latest of HP’s BIOSphere – an extra layer of protection against malware attacks such as PDoS (permanent denial of service) and provides you with a way to recover in case of BIOS malware corruption or compromise in less than 30 seconds.
HP EliteBook Folio Battery & Performance
Given the HP EliteBook Folio’s overall size, it would be pretentious of us to expect a powerhouse to run the entire thing behind it. The laptop features a four-cell 36 Wh battery, which is considerably smaller than competitor models of the same caliber. However, the Folio’s processor was built to improve and boost battery life, so with a decent mix of screen brightness and a balanced power mode, the laptop can last up to 6 to 8 hours without being plugged in. Regardless, at maximum screen brightness and a more stressful type of activity on it, you might only end up with 3 or 4 hours’ worth of power.
Charging doesn’t seem to take very long either considering that if you leave it turned off and plugged to a power outlet for roughly an hour and a half, you will have a full charge to work with afterwards.
In terms of performance, we have to be frank – the hardware packed in the EliteBook Folio is not breaking into the benchmarking tops. The Intel Core M is the best you can get for a fan-less processor that would fit in the 15.7 mm thickness that the Folio showcases. While you can fluently work with emails, documents, presentations, video conferencing and many other activities of this nature, you many end up feeling that it lags behind a little in comparison to some of the better consumer laptops.
HP EliteBook Folio Verdict
We finally come to the conclusion of the HP EliteBook review. So what are the main factors that we have to take into consideration when settling on a final opinion? On one hand you get a pretty good performance, an amazing look, a light-weight, easily transportable but sturdy and well-protected machine. On the off-side, a rather small display (albeit near excellent in render quality), a very high premium price and the boldly-stated “looks and style over performance”.
If you believe that the work you do does not involve putting your laptop up to a stress-test on a regular basis and the high price is not an issue, the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 is a splendid choice.
The Folio’s pricing varies depending on the components you select when purchasing. The lowest end build will cost you a little over $1,000 while the high-end custom builds involving a more powerful processor and a touch-screen capable display can even take you up to a staggering $2,478.
The operating system of your choice (Windows 7.1 or Windows 8) and 3 years of warranty are included in the final price.