While HP’s Folio 13 is sized similarly to the other ultrabooks we’ve tested, sporting a 13.3‑inch screen and measuring 12.54x8.67x.7 inches, it’s a bit heavier than the others, but not by much. With a lap weight of 3 pounds, 4.8 ounces, it’s 3.7 ounces heavier than the Asus Zenbook, although its battery is nearly twice the size and weight of the latter’s.
Aesthetically, the Folio 13 is pleasing. The lid, keyboard deck, and palm rest are all brushed aluminum. Screen bezel, trackpad, and keyboard are black, as is the Folio’s underside, which sports a rubberized finish that makes the laptop nicely grippable. In all, it’s a handsome and well-contructed device.
The Folio 13’s port selection is comparatively generous for this class. Ethernet, full-size HDMI, and a media reader are all welcome inclusions, and one of the two USB ports is a 3.0 variety, although the driver for the Fresco Logic USB 3.0 controller wasn’t installed in our model (d’oh!). When it was, performance for the port was in line with expectations, giving us reads and writes to an external USB 3.0 drive of 217.7MB/s and 184.4MB/s, respectively.
If you opt for the commercial build of the Folio 13, you get a TPM chip for disk encryption, Windows 7 Professional, and a cleaner software package, starting at $1,000.
The guts of the Folio 13 consist of a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. The specs aren’t dissimilar to what we found in the Asus Zenbook, and the two fall within the same price range, but the Zenbook performed considerably better in our tests. (Check out the benchmark chart, where the Zenbook now represents our new ultraportable zero-point.) The Zenbook clearly enjoys the advantages of a 20 percent faster CPU (when you combine base clock and Turbo frequency), a superior SSD (which runs on a 6Gb/s bus), and a dual-channel RAM configuration.
In use, the Folio 13 is accommodating. The keys on the island keyboard are a good size, and their slightly rubberized texture feels nice to the touch and keeps your fingers from slipping; the keyboard is backlit. The trackpad is responsive and does a respectable job with scrolling and multitouch gestures, but the integrated right and left buttons require a little more pressure than we prefer. The screen offers the same resolution as most other ultrabooks, 1366x768 (the exception being the Zenbook’s 1600x900), and like the others, it’s a TN panel, which means a narrow optimum viewing angle and comparatively poor contrast. And the Folio’s screen doesn’t get particularly bright. Its speakers, on the other hand, pump out surprisingly full sound for a laptop of this size. Our model—the consumer build vs. commercial—included the Windows 7 Professional upgrade (Windows Home Premium comes standard at the base price of $900), along with a host of third-party apps (of varying usefulness), as well as HP’s own suite of management software.
There’s a lot here for the price, alright, in an attractive, well-made body, but the fact is, Asus’s Zenbook UX31E offers more performance and more cutting-edge style for nearly the same price.
HP Folio 13
Nice build; good port selection; strong battery life; low entry price.
Better performance can be had for the price; TN screen quality, and not very bright.
Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)
Photoshop CS3 (sec)
ProShow Producer (sec)
Quake III (FPS)
Quake 4 (FPS)
Battery life (min)
Our zero-point ultraportable is an Asus Zenbook UX31E with a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-2557M, 4GB of DDR3/1333 RAM, integrated graphics, a 128GB SSD, and Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.
1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M
Single‑channel 4GB DDR3/1333
13.3-inch, LED-backlit, 1366x768
Samsung 128GB SSD
USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI, headphone/mic, Ethernet, media reader, webcam, Bluetooth, 802.11 a/g/n