Product Listing
HP Folio 13 - An Elite Ultrabook
By Leo Boon Yeow - 18 Apr 2012

More Than One Achilles' Heel

More Than One Achilles’ Heel

One of the most understated features of notebook is how the lid is attached to the rest of the machine. Hinges must be sturdy, and yet not so rigid that you can’t lift the lid up with one hand. Users who’ve had to juggle a notebook while holding on to a hot cup of coffee will be able to tell you how much they appreciate these finer details found on the HP Folio 13. That’s because while the plastic hinges are tight, they aren’t so tight that you can’t open the lid with one hand.

Once the lid is open, you would notice that the interior is generously covered in brushed aluminum. Since it's metal, the palm rest area is rigid enough to withstand your wrists or your palms placed there for hours on end without having the notebook body flex when plastics are used on sub-par notebooks.

Opening a notebook with one hand is really an understated design feature, which we're really glad is found on the HP Folio 13 thanks to a combination of the right materials and the right amount of hinge tension.

The edges and corners are nicely rounded, making sure that typing on the keyboard or holding the machine in your hand is comfortable.

Unfortunately, we do have a slight issue with the plastic housing on which the keyboard is built around. This introduced quite a bit of flex when you press down hard on the keys. Thankfully the chiclet keys aren’t the mushy membrane kind, but rather the clicky kind with a good deal of resistance to provide you tactile feedback to make you forget about how bad the keyboard flex is. Another plus point to consider is its backlit keyboard that comes in mighty useful in low light usage.

Keyboard flex is found on most notebooks these days, and in this case is the result of using plastic to house the keyboard.

The backlit keyboard is another luxury that most other Ultrabooks that cost more don't have.

Also on hand to make you forget about the bad keyboard flex, is a huge clickable trackpad (clickpad). If you haven't used one of the newer notebooks with a large clickpad, it allows you to move your mouse cursor effortlessly around the screen while relieving your thumb from the duty of searching for a dedicated left click button since you can click anywhere on the trackpad. Also, having a clickpad improves the aesthetics of a notebook by removing the physical left and right mouse buttons (the trackpad looks a lot cleaner and neater). However to make things easier for a first time user of a clickpad, HP made the effort to demarcate where exactly the left and right trackpad function 'buttons' are located.

Of course while we love our clickpads really big, overly large sizes do present their own problems. Since this clickpad isn't able to differentiate between deliberate usage and accidentally touching the clickpad while typing (as it's lacking a palm recognition feature such as that used on the Dell XPS 13), it can be an annoying problem. To alleviate that issue, the clickpad can be switched off if required for extended typing needs or when using a separate wired/wireless mouse.

Big clickable trackpads are a luxury found mostly only in premium notebooks. The small rectangular icon on the top left corner controls toggling the clickpad on/off, similar to that on many of the better notebooks. It is certainly ideal when you've lots to type and might constantly brush against the trackpad.


Multimedia Capabilities

As we near rounding up the main aspects of the notebook, we relate its multimedia qualities. At this point of time, most people expect Ultrabooks to be fairly capable in this area. Normally, the two most important aspects that showcase a unit’s multimedia strengths from a hardware perspective are the quality of speakers and the screen.

For the speakers, we’re very pleased to report that they are as good as it gets in ultra-portable machines. The HP Folio 13’s speakers are not only loud, they’re quite clear as well. Turning up the volume to the max doesn’t introduce any distortion, and the audio still remains crisp and clear. Though we mention the audio is good, it's nothing to actually nothing to shout about as it's pretty much in-line with most other recent Ultraboooks. Just don’t expect to have a mind-blowing bass experience or anything of that sorts. It's good for it's class but external speakers are highly recommended if your demands are high and don't mind added accessories.

The glossy screen doesn't really affect how you use the machine, but we find that if the screen resolution were a tad higher, we'd recommend the Folio 13 even more.

Next is the glossy screen that HP chose to use in the Folio 13, which has a resolution of just 1366 x  768 pixels. To be fair, there are plenty of notebooks (and most Ultrabooks) out in the market that sport this resolution. While it could be asking for a bit too much to expect a price competitive notebook (the Folio 13 costs less than S$1400) to feature a high resolution screen, we believe that if there’s one thing that make the Folio 13 a much better product, it is to improve the screen that it's endowed with.

However as it stands, the HP Folio 13 is a machine that needs to cater to the needs of small and medium businesses, as well as consumers alike. Most of these users wouldn’t mind a lower resolution as long as their notebook is able to handle all kinds of multimedia applications with ease, which we will find out in the next segment of the review. What puzzled as though was the lack of screen options to choose from even if the base model sported a common resolution display.

  • Design 8,5
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Value 9
  • Mobility 9
The Good
Excellent battery life
Backlit keyboard
Good aluminum build
The Bad
Keyboard flex
Low-res screen
Obsessed with technology?
Subscribe to the latest tech news as well as exciting promotions from us and our partners!
By subscribing, you indicate that you have read & understood the SPH's Privacy Policy and PDPA Statement.