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HP Folio 13 review: HP Folio 13

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The Good cheaper than some ultrabooks; decent specs for the price; comfortable keyboard.

The Bad Low resolution screen; thicker and heavier than other models.

The Bottom Line The HP Folio 13 compromises on size, weight and screen resolution in order to keep the price reasonably low. If you're after an ultrabook for the office, the Folio 13 is a good option.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

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With nearly every laptop manufacturer throwing an ultrabook into the ring, it's often difficult to differentiate between them.

Rather than boast about super-slim dimensions and beautiful designs, HP's Folio 13 cuts back in key areas to offer a more modest ultrabook for a reasonable price.

It's packing an Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM and can be yours for £700.

Design and build quality

Unlike its new Spectre ultrabook, HP's Folio 13 is designed with functionality as a priority, rather than focusing on aesthetic appeal. The Folio doesn't offer a sleek glass top but instead opts for a subdued brushed metal grey. While it's not a look that would turn heads when pulled out in a coffee shop, it's certainly smart looking and is more suited to the professional environment than its glass-topped brother.

With a thickness of 18mm, it's not the slimmest ultrabook I've seen to date -- various new models are pushing the 15mm barrier -- but it's still considerably slimmer than most regular laptops. The fact that it's not wafer-thin like many of its ultrabook rivals may actually be a bonus if you want it to sit firmly on your office desk.

HP Folio 13 width
It may be packing more girth than the increasingly svelte ultrabook brigade, but it's still thinner than most regular laptops.

The brushed aluminium lid is particularly firm, as is the rubberised underside, resulting in a very sturdy machine. Of course, with such a slim body, there's no spare room inside that would allow for flex in the chassis, but it's still nice to feel such a solid laptop -- I had no worries at all about sliding it into a slim, unpadded messenger bag and heading off around town.

At 1.49kg, it's not going to win any medals for lightness -- there are numerous ultrabooks that pack less weight -- but you're unlikely to feel too bogged down if you're carrying it in a bag. The 13.3-inch Asus Zenbook UX31 is a slightly more bag-friendly 1.3kg, but whether you'd ever notice the difference is debatable.

HP Folio 13 lid
The lid is firm and the build is pretty solid, so you can slap it about without too much risk of it cracking up.

Around the edges you'll find one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port, a full-sized SD card slot and even an Ethernet port, which will make hooking it up to your office connection a breeze. There's also an HDMI port so you can easily plug in a massive TV to enjoy movies when you're not busy working.

The keyboard uses square, isolated keys that are well spaced over the base. They're not huge tiles, so you need to be fairly accurate with your typing, but I found it quick and easy to get used to and very comfortable for long periods of typing. It's also backlit so tapping away into the night will be no trouble at all.

HP Folio 13 keyboard
The keyboard is backlit, making the HP Folio 13 a perfect alternative to replacing that blown lightbulb in the study.

Screen

The 13-inch screen has a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, which doesn't match the 1,600x900-pixel resolution offered on models such as the Asus Zenbook UX31. That's a shame, considering the Zenbook is last year's model. I'd have hoped that new releases would at least be keeping up.

At the time when I previewed this laptop, I'd heard that the Folio 13 would be offered for around the £600 mark, which would have made the lower resolution much more palatable. Sadly it's not quite that cheap so I'm more disappointed not to see a better resolution in play here.

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