Event Coverage

HP Notebooks Line-up Sneak Peek: Folio Ultrabook and More

By Leo Boon Yeow - 16 Nov 2011

HP Line-up Sneak Peek: Ultrabook and More

New Folio, Envy and Pavilion

By now, you might have already seen what most of the major PC manufacturers have in store for you to get during the festive season. Ultrabooks are definitely the trendier products for this period but a glaring absentee to the party would have to be the world’s biggest PC company, HP. But of course, we can’t really blame them because they are going through a shift of sorts in terms of priorities. However for those who have concerns for HP’s computing hardware priorities, you can safely cast aside any doubts judging from their new momentum and update of new products on the way.

We had the good fortune to be invited for a sneak peak of HP’s upcoming products, which will definitely make it out to the market in time for the festive season at the end of the year. We were introduced to no less than three different high profile notebooks; the HP Folio, HP’s take on the Ultrabook segment, the HP Pavilion dm4, a wallet friendly 14-inch notebook, as well as their flagship 15-inch notebook, the HP Envy 15. Do take note that the models shared with us are the engineering versions and there might be slight differences to the final retail units in either specs, features or appearances.

A Close Look at the HP Folio

We were first introduced to the HP Folio, an Ultrabook designed to be used at home, or at work. This is, in our opinion, their star product for the season.

Look at how thin the HP Folio (which means "leaf" or "page" in Latin) is. It's however not as light as we would like it to be. Instead, it offers a notable increase in battery capacity and that's something which should bode well for many folks on the move.

There will be two variations of the Folio; one for the enterprise, and one for home use. The enterprise variant will come with a slew of security features, starting with of course, the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip. The Folio has your standard Ultrabook specifications, such as a thin profile, 13-inch screen, SSD, and large clickable trackpad. What makes it slightly different however is that the pricetag includes a back-lit keyboard, which adds a touch of luxury.

The HP Folio is HP's take on the Ultrabook line of machines and the design borrows heavily from HP's enterprise ready Elitebook series, which is a good thing if you ask us.

Another big difference is however, the weight. It’s slightly heavier than other Ultrabooks of the same class, weighing in at 1.5kg. That's approximately at least 200 grams more than the average Ultrabook so far. It may not seem like much, but when you have to carry it all day, 200 grams will seem like 2 tonnes. But before you dismiss it as an overweight clunker, you’d have to understand where the extra weight came from. According to HP, the Folio has more battery capacity than its competitors. This allows the Folio to stay alive far longer than your average Ultrabook.

If you put the HP Folio alongside other Utlrabooks, it won't be the lightest or the thinnest for sure, but instead you'd get one of the most robust machine among them.

To us, this is laudable because no matter how portable your machine is, if it can’t stay alive for as long as you need to do work, then it is as good as a pretty paperweight.

The machine is mostly encased in a luxuriant looking aluminium body that enhances its durability, a feature which not something that all Ultrabooks can brag about.

The back-lit island-style keys are one of the key 'unofficial features' of an Ultrabook (well, according to us anyway). Thankfully HP features just that, and we found it to have good travel and pitch. It feels incredibly solid, and has no flex.

The trackpad on the Folio is pretty big, but we feel it could be bigger. Just look at all that empty space, begging to be used!

The left of the machine is where most of the ports are found. It has the usual suspects (USB, HDMI, card reader, etc.) as well as a full sized RJ45 port that keeps it ready for any enterprise action on the local area network.

The right side of the machine doesn't have a huge number of ports, but you do get the necessary USB 2.0 port, and the headphone/microphone jack.

We don’t have any local pricing details, but the HP Folio will start retailing for US$1099, at the lowest Core i3 configuration.


New HP Pavilion dm4

The Pavilion dm4 isn't a stranger to us and this series has been around for a long time. In its latest iteration, it still maintains its key characteristics of an affordable multimedia work horse. What's new is that it now comes with Beats Audio for a better audio experience, a reasonably mid-range discrete graphics card (likely a Radeon HD 7470M), a backlit keyboard and dual subwoofers.

The HP Pavilion dm4 has the form factor of a conventional 13-inch machine, but sports a bigger 14-inch screen.

The dm4 also comes in a special Beats Edition, which is essentially the same machine, in a different color scheme (black and red), as well as a red backlit keyboard. The Pavilion dm4 will start from US$799, while the Beats version will start at US$899.


Envy Refreshed

Lastly, we have the HP Envy 15, which most of us will recognise as HP’s flagship series in terms of luxury, styling and features. From what we saw, the 15.6-inch widescreen Envy 15 is nothing short of remarkable.

The beautiful HP Envy 15 is completely encased in a luxurious aluminum exterior, and on top of having all the necessary connectivity options, is "Beats" branded to ensure optimum sound quality.

You can tell right away that great thought has been put into the design of the machine, which is completely clad in aluminium, an increasingly popular material for stylish notebooks. The lid of the machine is black, while the interior is a nice silver finish, accented by red details, which also happens to be representative of the Beats Audio built in. Another unique feature about the machine is also the fact that each individual key is lit by its own LED. What this translate to is a visual treat for users, when the keyboard lights up and turns on row by row. Now there isn’t at option to control each individual LED like an Alienware machine, but those with some technical know how can take advantage of this fact to create something truly amazing.

The HP Envy 15 is a multimedia powerhouse that is as beautiful as it is competent.

We've also had the chance to try out the keyboard, which has decent travel and feels great when typing, an important feature also found in most other HP machines. Each key is also individually lit, an unexpectedly opulent option which we love.

The Envy 15 also has a large trackpad that aids in easy tracking, but like the HP Folio, we feel it could be bigger.

One of the best things about having a jog dial is that repeated jabbing at buttons is a thing of the past. All you need to do now is to gracfully slide your finger in the appropriate direction to control the volume.

It looks like with a HP Envy 15, you don't have to worry about not being able to connect to external devices anymore. It's got everything from HDMI, DVI, USB  to RJ45 and even a card reader.

The HP Envy 15 equipped with an Intel Core i7, Radeon HD 7690M GPU will be going for US$1488 (no local pricing yet). We’ve also been told that there could be a purchase to purchase option of Beats audio equipment to cater for those who already own Beats equipment, but want the HP Envy 15 to complement the Beats headphones they already own.

That’s all we have for now, but be sure to check out our site for more details once these beauties are available. We hope you’re as excited as we are regarding these new machines, and once we get our hands on them, we’ll let you know how they fare against the competition.

The HP Envy 15 is one of the more premium product offerings from HP and rightly so. It's entirely convered in aluminium that makes it as durable as it is light.

The HP Folio is indeed a beautiful product, and we can't wait to get our hands on one, once it comes out into the market -- which should be soon if HP wants to catch the festive season crowd.

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