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HP Folio 13 ultrabook: 3.3 pounds, 128GB SSD, and a backlit keyboard for $900 (hands-on)

HP Folio 13 ultrabook: 3.3 pounds, 128GB SSD, and a backlit keyboard for $900 (hands-on)

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And then there were five... ultrabooks that is. Just as the leaks revealed, HP is officially joining the ultrabook race this evening with its Folio 13, and the 3.3-pound / 0.7-inch laptop is coming right for the competition, namely Toshiba's Portege Z835. The 13.3-inch laptop isn't as thin as the MacBook Air or Asus Zenbook UX31, but like Toshiba, it doesn't skimp on the ports; it's got a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 jack, as well as Ethernet and HDMI sockets. Additionally, it has an SD card reader and a backlit keyboard. As you'd expect the base model is stuck with just a 1366 x 768 glossy display, and sadly there's no upgrade on that at the moment.

However, the Folio (boy, do we keep wanting to say Palm Foleo) seems to have a slight edge on the Toshiba when it comes to specs. Instead of a Core i3 processor like the Z835, it's got a Core i5-2467M (there will also be dual-core i7 versions), a 128GB SSD, and 4GB of DDR3 memory. All those together, have HP bragging of not only fast resume / boot times but nine hours of battery life. Of course, we'll have to be the judge of that when it comes time for the review.

So, how is the outlook for HP's ultrabook entry? Based on my quick hands-on time with it a couple of weeks ago, I'd say quite good. The laptop isn't as snazzy as the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s or the Asus Zenbook UX31 — it looks more like an HP Elitebook than an Envy — but at $900 it offers the best spec array for the price. Additionally, the keyboard and trackpad seem like a really decent pair, which we've learned can make or break one of these laptops. The touchpad has integrated buttons and seemed much better than the one I'd been testing on the Acer Aspire S3 at the time. As for the build, it's a bit disappointing that only the lid and palm rest are clad in aluminum, but HP has equipped the base with a rubber coating for some added protection. The Folio hits on December 7th — I'm hoping to review it around then, but in the meantime, you'll want to compare it to the other ultrabooks out there right here and check out the pictures below.