While we have established Intel's Ultrabook specification is enforced common sense, it is remarkable how many manufacturers have still failed to maximise its potential. Poor touchpads, substandard keyboards and, worst of all, poor TN-panel screens have been notable low points for products designed to bring sex appeal back to the humble laptop. Thankfully HP has been paying more attention in class...
The 'Folio 13' is HP's first Ultrabook and comes to market a number of months behind its rivals. However, out of the box it isn't immediately obvious where the additional time has been spent. The Folio jumps through all Intel's hoops – Sandy Bridge chipset, 18mm maximum thickness, over five hours battery life and hibernation resumption in under seven seconds – but it doesn't have an immediate wow factor. This isn't to say the Folio is ugly, far from it, but the mixture of spirit level straight lines and the colour balance between black and silver lacks the immediate pizzazz of some rivals.
The beauty of the Folio, however, is it is a grower. Look closer and the blacks all match, and HP has used the same brushed aluminium finish everywhere. What's more the build quality is exceptional. The Folio screen hinge is strong yet opens and closes with minimum effort, the isolated keyboard is firm yet tactile with spill resistant, with keys that offer just enough travel to make long typing sessions comfortable.
Furthermore HP has taken time to think about the connectivity, avoiding the frustrating mini ports seen on many rivals and cramming in full size Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI along with one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports and a combo headphone/microphone jack. Like a partner with a great personality, such common sense thinking quickly raises the Folio above the sum of its parts.
HP hasn't skimped on the other Ultrabook prerequisites either. At the heart of the Folio is a 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5-2467M processor alongside Intel's capable HD 3000 graphics, 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM and a 128GB SSD.
Some surprisingly loud and clear, if bass-light, stereo speakers are equipped with Dolby Advanced Audio processing, there's a 1.3MP HD Webcam and the usual accompaniment of Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 3.0 and WiDi. Given the Folio also sports business aspirations it comes with a TPM 1.2 Embedded Security Chip, and a further nice touch is a dedicated touch control to switch the touchpad on and off.