Reviews

Hands On: The New Crazy Thin EliteBook Folio: HP's Answer To The MacBook

The EliteBook Folio is thin. Super thin. Apple MacBook thin. And light. When you’re working all day in places other than your office, that can be really convenient, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of actually getting that work done. Despite sharing the same Core M processor line with the MacBook, the new HP EliteBook Folio packs a lot more power, including a double complement of USB Type-C.

Where the MacBook is Apple’s idea of taking a minimalist laptop to the extreme, the EliteBook Folio is made to be a tool that you could actually use if you wanted to get some work done. It has more up-to-date Skylake processors from Intel’s 2016 chip line-up, including the option for a Core m7; you can spec the internal PCI-E SSD up to 512GB, the RAM up to 8GB, the 12.5-inch screen from a standard 1080p up to an eye-blistering 4K. So it has more under the hood, despite being almost as skinny.

At 15mm thin, the EliteBook Folio isn’t the everyday business-and-home clunker laptop that HP was known for in years previous.

Its keyboard may be a slim chiclet one, but in practice it’s surprisingly easy to type on quickly, without the cramped feel of Apple’s slightly smaller layout and with keys that travel significantly further.

There’s a little extra room on the edges of the keyboard, which makes it easier to rest your pinky fingers on between words or sentences; this actually really help.

Then there’s the ports. Having a second USB Type-C port, right next to the other on the laptop’s right side as it may be, gives you that crucial ability to connect an external device while you’re charging, or to transfer files between devices without having to first transfer them onto your laptop. This is something that I struggle with on my MacBook, surprisingly often, and it’s the kind of thing that necessitates bulky adapters that somewhat hamper the easy all-in-one portability you want from your laptop.

Battery life, too, is one of those things that skinny laptops struggle with; HP’s 36Wh cell is actually smaller than the one in the 39Wh MacBook, but the more efficient processors will contribute a long way towards HP’s claims of 10 hours of actual productivity from the EliteBook Folio. This is actually a believable claim, although bump up the brightness on the screen — and it can go a long way up — or opt for the more pixel-dense 4K display, and you’ll use more power. Even if you knock off a couple of hours, that’s still a full 8-hour work day.

I’ve come to love my MacBook, but you have to operate within its bounds. The EliteBook Folio feels like something with just a little bit more breathing room.


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