Okay, so Hewlett-Packard isn’t exactly known for jaw-dropping notebook designs. But the machines it does make tend to be functional, dependable and, for the most part, reasonably priced. The same is true of the company’s new Folio 13-2000 Ultrabook aimed at the business market.
The Folio 13 is pleasant enough to look it and hold, what with its slightly rubberised black base, brushed metal surfaces and spacious, well-designed, backlit keyboard. It’s also light — weighing just 1,5kg — and, although its body doesn’t taper at the front, like on the gorgeous new Series 9 from Samsung or Apple’s MacBook Air, the Folio 13 looks the Ultrabook part.
Inside the machine is a 128GB solid-state drive, which gives the machine great boot-up time and makes firing up and switching between applications incredibly snappy. However, 128GB is probably not going to be enough for power users, or those who like to store music and video files on their laptops. For basic office work, including e-mail, Web browsing and productivity software, it’s enough.
The Windows 7 Professional-toting Folio 13 comes standard with 4GB of RAM and a 1,6GHz Intel Core i5 processor — nothing to get excited about, but, again, that’s enough for basic office work.
As in most Ultrabooks, there’s no optical drive in the Folio 13, though it’s so seldom one needs to insert a CD or DVD these days we doubt many people will miss its not being there.
The machine has two USB ports, located on opposite ends of the unit, but both are the slower USB 2 variety. We’d have liked to have seen HP throw in an extra USB 3 port for high-speed connections. There’s also a full-sized HDMI port for hooking up an external monitor or projector, a multi-format card reader and, of course, an Ethernet port for wired communication. Rounding out the ports is a 3,5mm audio input/output jack.
The trackpad is not as generously sized as some others, especially the MacBook Air’s. It also feels distinctly cheap to the touch. It gets the job done, though.
The Folio 13’s glossy monitor is also very middle-of-the-road and doesn’t fare well when working outdoors. Screen quality also fails quickly as the viewing angle is increased.
But some buyers may be able to overlook this for the rather good battery life. HP claims you’ll get up to nine-and-a-half hours on one charge. Our experience shows you’ll struggle to achieve that, but more than seven hours is doable, provided the screen isn’t turned up to maximum and you aren’t shredding through multimedia files.
At R12 999, the Folio 13 is cheaper (although not by much) than top-end Ultrabooks like the Samsung Series 9. It’s a workhorse that will probably appeal to a middle management suit who delves into a little Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint. It’ll probably sell well but, if you buy one, don’t expect it to turn any heads. Our advice: shop around. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media