HP is jumping into the ultrabook fray with the introduction of the HP Folio. The $900 portable packs a lot of power in its small, light form factor, but is it enough to handle business computing on the go?
Don't confuse the ultrabook with the netbook--they are two entirely different machines. The netbook may have paved the way for the ultrabook concept with cheap, tiny laptops, but netbooks were always underpowered, handicapped versions of their notebook relatives. The meteoric rise of the netbook was cut short by the advent of the iPad and other tablets, and has fallen from grace more or less.
The ultrabook attempts to combine the benefits and advantages of the netbook with the full power and capabilities of a notebook. It is basically the PC equivalent of an Apple MacBook Air.
Intel set out some simple guidelines for the ultrabook genre of hardware: the devices should be no more than 0.8 inches thick, should cost less than $1000, and they should be built using Intel chips (of course). That leaves some significant room for interpretation by PC manufacturers.
At 0.71 inches thick, 3.28 pounds, and starting at $900, the HP Folio fits the bill. The question is whether or not the clout of the HP brand, and the additional capabilities built in to the Folio can help position the HP ultrabook as a mobile business workhorse.
The vast majority of business users don't really need high-end processing horsepower or graphics capabilities. As long as the system can run Microsoft Office, access email, and surf the Web it should suffice for most business purposes. With an Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of memory, the HP Folio has the resources to run Windows 7 efficiently
When it comes to storage, though, the 128GB solid state drive could fill up quickly. With ultrabooks--like with tablets, it seems that you need to rely on cloud-based storage to do the heavy lifting. However, the HP Folio also includes a USB 3.0 port if you wish to carry and use an external USB hard drive for additional storage.
HP boasts up to nine hours of battery life with its ultrabook, and it includes HP CoolSense technology designed to help the computer keep its cool. HP is also offering a USB 2.0 docking station to provide more connectivity for users while they're at their desks.
The main thing that sets the HP Folio apart from competing ultrabooks is that HP is offering models equipped with a TPM (Trusted Platform Module). The TPM chip is a core element of using Microsoft's BitLocker encryption, and provides additional security features lacking in other ultrabooks.
Although the HP Folio starts at $900, HP doesn't reveal how much the model costs that includes the TPM technology. By the time you upgrade to the TPM-enabled Folio and throw in a USB 2.0 dock, you might add a few hundred to that base price.