Some people want everything. They want a laptop that's small but powerful. One that has a high-resolution display and a touchscreen. A laptop that looks sharp enough to show off, but refined enough for serious business meetings. Decent battery life would help, too, as would a price that's not too much of a premium.
Apple came close with its 12-inch MacBook. It's a brilliantly designed machine, with a high-res 12-inch display, but it lacks touch, the shallow keyboard isn't ideal, and OS X doesn't always play nice with the IT needs in some business or school environments. And, of course, it has only a single USB-C port for power and connectivity.
HP has cooked up something that looks and feels a lot like the 12-inch MacBook, built for professional Windows users, but still stylish enough that anyone can feel comfortable using it.
Like the MacBook, it uses Intel's latest Core M-series processors, but unlike the MacBook, HP includes the fastest version, the Core m7, in its lowest-end model, which starts at $999 in the US, and which seems like a really good deal. That version has 128GB of storage and a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution non-touch display, but options for high-res touch screens, more solid state storage, and a couple of different processors can drive the price close to double that. Slightly different configurations available in the UK run from £1,222 to £1,498, and in Australia from AU$2,499 to AU$3,499.
For this review, we tested two different configurations, both built via HP's system configurator. One worked out to $1,412, with a Core m7, 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and a full-HD non-touch display. The other was a higher-end configuration, with the same CPU and RAM, but a big 512GB SSD and a 3,840x2,160 4K touchscreen display, which at the time of this review cost $1,737. Note that prices for custom-configured PCs can often change, as can the list of available components.
Both of the Folio G1 systems stick with USB-C only, but unlike the MacBook, they include two ports (both on the right side), so you can easily keep the power connected while also using a USB accessory. Still, to even use a simple USB key, you'll need a sold-separately USB-A to USB-C adapter, which usually costs around $20.
Using both configurations side by side, the 4K display and the touchscreen on the more expensive one really jump out, compared to the lower-end model. Touch still feels like a necessity in Windows laptops, even on ones with decent touchpads like this, as no Windows laptop has yet matched the ease of navigation Apple pulls off by controlling every aspect of its hardware and software. But, the other wise of the trade-off is clear when it comes to battery life. As in other 4K versus FHD (full HD) comparisons we've tested, the 4K display takes a big chunk out of battery life.
HP EliteBook Folio G1 (4K)
|Price as reviewed||$1,737|
|Display size/resolution||12.5-inch 3,840x2,160 touchscreen|
|PC CPU||1.2GHz Intel Core M7-6Y75|
|PC memory||8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz|
|Graphics||128MB Intel HD Graphics 515|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
Similar to the MacBook, the Folio G1 is machined from aluminum. It has a very premium look and feel, although the shiny chrome-like finish on the hinge may not be to everyone's taste. The hinge opens a full 180 degrees, which means the lid can be pushed back to lie completely flat. I can't think of too many cases where you'd want to do that, but having some extra flexibility is always nice.
However, in both Folio G1 models we tested, the hinge itself tended to wobble or move back a bit when the open laptop is picked up and carried by its base. It just feels a little too loose, especially for a premium product.