PC

Ultra-slim laptop a good fit

The lid of the HP EliteBook Folio can be flipped open to a full 180 degrees.
The lid of the HP EliteBook Folio can be flipped open to a full 180 degrees.PHOTO: HP ASIA-PAC

Take the 12-inch Apple MacBook, adapt it for business users, and you will probably end up with something like the HP EliteBook Folio.

At 12.4mm, the Folio is millimetres thinner than the MacBook. But the Folio is not as light, probably because my review set has a bigger 12.5-inch touchscreen.

Both laptops have aluminium chassis that are impressively rigid despite their thinness. The Folio's lid is stiff and unyielding, which contributes to the laptop's solid build quality. You can open the lid to a full 180 degrees.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $3,099

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core m7-6Y75 (1.2GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 515

    RAM: 8GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 12.5 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt, audio jack

    BATTERY: 38 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The backlit keyboard surprised me with its good key travel. I actually prefer typing on the Folio over the MacBook's keyboard.

HP says that the keyboard is designed for collaboration, with convenient keyboard shortcuts (Function keys) for receiving and making VoIP calls via Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync). There is also a button that opens the Skype calendar.

Double tap the top left corner of the touchpad to instantly disable the touchpad. This is convenient if you plan to connect a mouse. My fingers seem to glide over the smooth touchpad. The touchpad size is just right for a 12.5-inch laptop.

My review set comes with a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel display, though HP also offers a 3,840 x 2,160-pixel display. The screen looks good, with minimal colour shift, even from the sides. The bezel at the left and right of the display is slim, but the overall look is spoilt by the thick black bottom bezel.

I was initially surprised that the Folio does not have a fingerprint reader, an important feature for a business laptop.

But it turns out that the Folio has an infrared front-facing camera that can recognise authorised users via Windows 10's facial recognition feature.

You'll have to configure a password and a PIN before you can set up the Windows Hello facial recognition feature. But once this is done, the camera took just a couple of seconds to verify my appearance and unlock the laptop. The camera even works in the dark.

The Folio has an integrated Trusted Platform Module chip for security management. But, unlike some business laptops, it does not have 4G connectivity.

HP does one better than Apple by outfitting the Folio with two USB Type-C ports compared with the MacBook's single port.

These USB ports support Thunderbolt 3, so they transfer data at significantly higher speeds than USB 3.0. They are also used to charge the laptop.

However, you will still need to carry adapters for your storage drives or external displays.

Thankfully, HP includes three USB Type-C adapters - for connecting to VGA display, Ethernet and full-size USB 3.0.

HP sells a companion docking station ($269) that connects to the Folio via its USB Type-C port. This dock adds four full-size USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI and DisplayPort.

With a PCMark 8 Home score of 2,034, the Folio is not as fast for tasks such as document editing and Web browsing, compared with other ultrabooks.

HP's new Spectre scores 2,594 in the same benchmark.

But this result is expected. The Folio uses an Intel Core m7 chip that is less powerful than the Core i7 processor in the HP Spectre.

The upside: the Core m7 does not require a cooling fan. Hence, the Folio is perfectly silent, even while running a video. However, the bottom of the laptop gets rather warm after extended use.

Battery life is good, with the Folio lasting 6hr 13 min in our video-loop battery test at full brightness and volume.

Vincent Chang

• Verdict: This HP business ultraportable is more expensive than the Apple MacBook ($2,498), though the Folio does offer extra features and accessories over the MacBook.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Ultra-slim laptop a good fit'. Print Edition | Subscribe