While Ultrabooks generally go for that seriously thin and sexy look, HP has made an Ultrabook for business class travelers who prefer the subdued look of the HP EliteBook to the silvery slimness and tapering sides of the Asus Zenbook UX31 or MacBook Air. That's not to say the HP Folio 13 is ugly, because it's not. It is understated and plain with clean lines and a slightly thicker 0.7" profile with no taper. It weighs 3.3 lbs., while most Ultrabooks weigh in at 3 lbs. or less (the Toshiba Portege Z830 is an absolute featherweight at 2.5 lbs.). That slightly thicker design and added weight allow for more key travel on the very good backlit keyboard and room for a 6 cell battery that offers a claimed 9.25 hours of battery life.
Like all Intel Ultrabooks, the HP runs on an Intel Core i second generation ULV CPU. HP currently offers just one option, the 1.6GHz Core i5, while other makers offer Core i7 and sometimes Core i3 options. The machine has the usual 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM and a 128 gig SSD drive (again, currently your only option). The HP Folio 13 1020US quick ship model that's also sold in stores like Staples and Frys costs $949 in stores and $899 direct from HP's website. If you custom order the Folio 13 you can add on a fingerprint scanner with TPM and upgrade to Windows 7 Professional. According to HP's website, the custom order model has Intel WiFi + Bluetooth 3.0 and supports Intel WiDi wireless display, but the quick ship model has Broadcom WiFi and Bluetooth and thus no Intel WiDi.
The HP Folio has 2 USB ports (one is USB 3.0), a full size HDMI port, SD card slot and a gigabit Ethernet jack (a rarity on Ultrabooks).
The 13.3" LED backlit display has good contrast and pleasing colors, but it's the dimmest Ultrabook on the market. It's fine for medium indoor lighting but not so great for bright locations as a result. That lower brightness display and conservative performance tuning make for better battery life, and the Folio is a good choice for those who don't want to squeeze the last bit of performance out, but rather prefer long battery life for a solid 7-7.5 hours of office productivity on the road. The Folio 13 scored 8936 in the PCMark Vantage benchmark, vs. 9850 for the Dell XPS 13 with the same CPU and 10,021 for the Asus Zenbook 13" with a 1.7GHz Core i5.
Here's our HP Folio 13 video review. Our full written review will follow in the coming days.