HP Folio 13 Review: Deviating From the Normby Dustin Sklavos on April 17, 2012 12:30 AM EST
- Posted in
- Sandy Bridge
The initial bum rush of ultrabooks resulted in, with limited exception, a lot of designs that took most of their cues from Apple's MacBook Air. Even Dell's XPS 13, otherwise very different from what came before it, still maintained that wedge shape. Yet HP went a bit of a different route with their Folio 13 and demonstrated the same kind of outside the box thinking that many of the larger vendors are demonstrating these days.
HP's engineers took a look at Intel's ultrabook spec and, rather than see how small they could get their design, opted to see just how much they could pack into the spec. The result is the Folio 13, an ultrabook designed to bridge their consumer and business lines and offer the best an ultrabook can offer.
The ultrabook spec is pretty well defined without much in the way of wiggle room for the hardware itself, leaving vendors to differentiate largely on overall chassis design and price. The initial rush of ultrabooks included systems from Toshiba, Asus, and Acer that largely aped Apple's MacBook Air wedge shape and aluminum shell design, but HP and Dell played things close to the chest initially. HP's Folio 13 actually predates Dell's XPS 13, but both are intriguing designs that deviate from the norm in their own ways. Let's start with the specifications of our Folio 13 review unit.
|HP Folio 13 Specifications|
Intel Core i5-2467M
(2x1.6GHz + HTT, Turbo to 2.3GHz, 32nm, 3MB L3, 17W)
|Memory||1x4GB Micron DDR3-1600 (Maximum 1x4GB)|
Intel HD 3000 Graphics
(12 EUs, up to 1.15GHz)
13.3" LED Glossy 16:9 768p
LG Philips LP133WH4-TJA1
|Hard Drive(s)||Samsung PM810 128GB mSATA SSD @ SATA 3Gbps|
Intel Centrino 1030 802.11b/g/n
Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit Ethernet
IDT 92HD99BXX HD audio
Headphone/mic combo jack
|Battery||6-Cell, 11.1V, 60Wh|
Headphone/mic combo jack
SD card reader
|Back Side||Exhaust vent|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1|
12.54" x 8.67" x 0.7" (WxDxH)
319mm x 220mm x 18mm
Starts at $899
As configured: $1,019
While most of HP's notebooks allow some level of customization, the Folio 13 really only has one internal hardware configuration, and you're looking at it. While some of the exterior elements are certainly a fresh approach for ultrabooks, HP has strangely opted to be much more conservative with speccing their ultrabook than other vendors have, and there are a few places where the Folio 13 is going to definitely lag behind the competition.
The Intel Core i5-2467M processor isn't slow by any stretch of the imagination, but it's the only ULV Core i5 we've tested this generation, with other vendors either just going for the cheapest chip (Toshiba's i3) or an expensive but faster i7. At a 1.6GHz nominal clock speed and able to turbo up to 2.1GHz on both cores or 2.3GHz on a single core, it's not a total slouch but it's also not the fastest chip around either.
HP also inexplicably uses only one memory channel on the i5's controller, and while the DDR3 is clocked higher at 1600MHz that can't make up for halving the memory bus width. Ultimately this shouldn't be a huge detriment to performance, but it's still performance left on the table. That single channel is populated by 4GB of RAM, too, which is enough for most tasks but is still shy of what can be achieved with most modern notebooks and even some modern ultrabooks.
Handling SSD storage duties is a Samsung PM810 running at SATA 3Gbps. Anecdotally, in real world usage I've found most of the benefit of running an SSD is felt just by virtue of the difference in responsiveness between an SSD and a mechanical hard disk drive. Connectivity is thankfully pretty good for this class of notebook, though: HP includes a USB 3.0 port and HDMI on top of the usual ports we've come to expect, along with a gigabit ethernet port for wired networking.
Ultimately, though, the specs on the Folio 13 are rather tame for an ultrabook, which is all the more perplexing since other vendors were able to cram more power into smaller designs. When I met with HP a few months ago when they were debuting the Folio 13, they showed me the interior and said they pretty much just doubled down on the battery, which is why the Folio 13 is also slightly bigger and heavier than other ultrabooks. Whether or not that gamble paid off remains to be seen.
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LordConrad - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - linkIf laptop makers decide to include higher resolution screens by default, I hope there is an option to downgrade. If the native resolution on my 15 inch laptop was any smaller than 768p, I would have trouble reading it.
cbf - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - linkGo the Windows control panel and increase the point size of your text.
A5 - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - linkThin & light always has and always will cost more. It requires more R&D effort to fit all this stuff in a small enclosure.
sigmatau - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - linkThe R&D to creating this case was so high that manufacturers need to charge a $550 premium over a regular laptop?
Really? $550 for a thinner case with the same hardware?
JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - linkWay to just pull a random number out of your hat. Where do you get $550 from? The lowest sale price of a Core i3 laptop, perhaps? Let me give you a rundown of estimated costs (give or take):
i5 ULV CPU: $125 (for an OEM?)
Custom motherboard: $100
128GB SSD: $100 (for an OEM)
OS: $50 (OEM price?)
Bill of Materials alone, then, I'd estimate at $650 give or take, which is $200 higher than what you're estimating. Now, add in additional R&D costs of $200 to design and mass produce a higher quality (e.g. not injection molded plastic) laptop, and then the profit is looking more like $150. If they sell a ton of these, then the R&D costs are covered and they could conceivably get the price down as low as $700 (on sale), but I wouldn't expect anything lower than that.
ImSpartacus - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - linkHow do you know that? I don't mean to question your BoM, I know it's a rough estimate. I'm just curious as to where one could find that sort of information.
I thought it was neat when Mr. Sklavos mentioned the cost of LCD panels (http://www.anandtech.com/show/5717/toshiba-portege... It felt like a natural addition to the article that strengthened his point. And it made those LCD rants easier to read, but that's another story...
Anyway, I know you guys are super busy, but it would be pretty sweet if reviews and stuff referenced material costs if it didn't make the review read poorly.
JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - linkActually, I'm the editor of Dustin's articles -- I started adding the LCD pricing comments. :-) Which just makes the issue of low quality panels far more frustrating to me. I'm still working on an article on the topic, but ran into a few snags....
The real difficulty with the above pricing is that without actually knowing how much OEMs get charged for some parts, I'm left to go off other sources. I can find some components on the open market, so I can quote those prices (e.g. LCDs, SSDs, CPUs), but what you or I would pay to buy the part is almost certainly quite a bit more than what a large OEM would pay for buying in volume. If you were to buy the equivalent components on your own, prices would be up probably $100 at least from my estimates. Mostly it was a list to point out a reasonable BoM for this laptop.
Super56K - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - linkIf only they played by those rules as far as BoM costs. I'd love to pay an extra ~$50 for a 900p 13" screen. But instead they nail us with a 'premium' upgrade option (if they even give you the option)
Even on my 15" HP Probook a 1080p screen upgrade, with a new video cable, is around $100-110 to purchase myself. I'd have gladly paid $500 instead of $380 for it with its 768p screen. Ah well, I'm counting down the months until I decide to void my warranty and 'fix' it myself.
kmmatney - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - linkI was hoping this meant a 16:10 screen...
Oderdigg - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - linkReally?
2nd Gen i5, 4GB, 128 SSD, keyboard backlight, USB 3.0, 1GB NIC and 802.11b/g/n. If they had an i7 or an LED panel, it wouldn't be $1000 anymore. It's also very cool to the touch even under duress so there's a good amount of R&D involved.
I just wish it had a better panel, otherwise it's great.