Since the beginning of 2012, there have been more than a dozen major brands to release Ultrabooks. To date, it has been hard to pick a clear winner for the crown of “best” on the market. The HP Folio 13-1020US very well may be the machine we’ve been waiting for because it goes above and beyond its competitors in a number of important categories.
Taking the HP Folio for a Spin
The HP Folio at first glance is very similar to its Ultrabook brethren. It offers the same second generation Intel Core i5 processor and Intel HD 3000 graphics chip. It has 4GB of DD3 system memory and it comes with a 128GB SSD flash hard drive. All of this is pretty standard stuff and performance-wise, the Folio line of Ultrabooks is not much different than the Portege or Aspire lines from Toshiba and Acer.
However, HP has found a few very important ways to set itself apart from the competition. First, there is the battery life. Arguably, the most important factor in the purchase of an Ultrabook should be longevity. A machine designed to weigh so little and take up so little space begs to be used outside the house, but without the right battery, that isn’t an option. Instead of cutting the weight to a razor thing 2-3 pounds, HP included a slightly larger battery to ensure battery life of 9.25 hours (on nominal settings). Still very light at 3.3 pounds, the Folio is a good mixture of the netbook and laptop design aesthetics we’ve grown used to.
There are other fun surprises to be had from HP’s Ultrabook as well. An HDMI port is an uncommon touch for a laptop this small and the backlit keyboard is attractive and useful when flying. It also has a USB 3.0 port which many other Ultrabooks lack, and while it’s recovery time is fairly slow compared to other Ultrabooks (about 15 seconds), it is still exceptionally fast compared to larger, HDD based machines.
Drawbacks of the HP Folio
The HP Folio 13-1020US is an incredible machine. It is well built, filled with surprise features and designed for on-the-go computing so there really are not that many drawbacks. The common Ultrabook drawbacks are all here – no optical drive, small SSD hard drive (only about 80GB available after OS and recovery partition) and limited ports – but beyond that it performs well in most regards.
Don’t expect to play high end games or edit videos on this machine. It isn’t designed for that kind of heavy use. But, for everyday computing – from watching movies to working on spreadsheets and surfing the Internet, there are very few drawbacks.
The Bottom Line
The HP Folio 13-1020US is the best Ultrabook on the market as of March, 2012, hands down. Battery life alone would make it a clear leader, but combined with its sleek design, exceptional performance in a number of benchmarks and lightweight form factor, it is a perfect machine for anyone on the go. If you are considering an Ultrabook to replace your desktop or current laptop, give the HP Folio a closer look.