HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 review

The MacBook of the business world

HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 review

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The HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 blends the best elements of a consumer Ultrabook with an enterprise laptop. Even though the Folio is built with the durability required by enterprises, it doesn't share its design with boxier rivals. Instead, the sleek unibody Ultrabook looks more like a consumer laptop that's been enhanced with security features, including TPM support, fingerprint scanning and data encryption.

What we like

The HP Folio 1020 G1 has a gorgeous design that's atypical of business-class notebooks. Cloaked in a unibody aluminum shell, the fanless Folio is one of the lighter, more attractive business portables we've tested, but HP didn't skimp on enterprise-friendly features.

The system comes with an ergonomical keyboard, fingerprint scanner, docking station compatibility and brilliant display. It has all the accoutrements that IT managers seek, and users who choose to adopt the Folio will likely pay a premium given the relatively higher $1,250 price of entry.

What we disliked

While the Intel Core M processor holds up well to basic office productivity tasks, the laptop feels sluggish when it's pushed to the limits. This makes the Folio less versatile than a notebook with an Intel Core i5 processor, and users who game, work with graphics or edit videos likely should skip the Folio for something more powerful.

Despite the trade off in power, the Core M doesn't add enough battery life to compensate for the degraded performance, nor is the processor worthy of the price premium that HP charges for this business system. Real world battery life is on par with, but not quite better than, systems with a mainstream Core i5 or Core i7 processor.

Other quibbles include a screen that doesn't recline enough – I would have loved to see a hybrid version of the Folio with a 180- or 360-degree hinge – and the choice to go with a microSD card reader over a full-sized one.

Final verdict

The HP Folio 1020 G1 is a laptop with stunning good looks, mediocre performance and rugged durability. The downside is that the energy efficient Intel Core M processor doesn't deliver more performance or battery life.

Despite its gorgeous QHD resolution touchscreen display, users with graphic needs should steer clear of the Folio, but the average office worker who lives inside Chrome, Office and YouTube will find a lot to love about this business Ultrabook. HP's design attention, security focus and emphasis on durability makes this a winner for road warriors who need a light system for travel.

Compared to business-class rivals like the Lenovo ThinkPad X250, the Folio doesn't score particularly well on a pure price-to-performance ratio, but there's no denying you're getting an attractive, if somewhat underpowered, system.