There’s a saying that I always heard as a kid: “Dress for the job you want.” And by the looks of the HP Spectre Folio 13, the 2-in-1 is auditioning for a spot in some high-powered executive’s arsenal. Clad in genuine leather, the Folio is a refined take on the 2-in-1, offering stunning good looks, multimode modes, over 10 hours of battery life and a comfortable keyboard. The Y-series Core i5 processor isn’t the fastest, but otherwise, this is a stellar example of computing design
Design: Seriously Impressive
As soon as I showed my mom the Folio, she said, “I love it!” And while I wouldn’t go that far, I will say I’m seriously impressed with HP’s design choices. The supple Cognac Brown genuine leather is soft against my hand and resistant to my overly oily fingers. And while I’m not normally one to sniff my tech , you’d be remiss not to in the case of the Folio. A couple of whiffs of the laptop, and I wanted to be in the velvety dark of my favorite cigar bar, with a stogie in one hand and a rocks glass of a 25-year-old scotch in the other.
Outside the normal creases of the leather, you’ll see a subtle line in the center of the lid accentuated by some stitching. The HP logo is stamped elegantly toward the rear. On the right side rests a leather loop, waiting expectantly for the accompanying pen.
More of that winsome leather awaits upon opening up the convertible. In fact, the palm rest is made entirely from the stuff, surrounding the touchpad in a sea of sumptuousness. The keyboard waits expectantly in the ash-gray aluminum keyboard deck. The slim, backlit power button sits right above the ESC key, while the speaker grille runs across the top of the deck.
Ports: The Three Musketeers
Since the Folio is only 0.6 inches thick, the convertible doesn’t have a lot of real estate available for ports.
On the rear of the tablet, hidden just above the kickstand, sits a dual SIM slot.
Mostly Polished Transitions
One thing HP is stressing with the Folio more than any of its other systems is the polish that went into the design. Nowhere is this more evident than when you’re transitioning through the various modes. With a firm push and a sliding motion, the Folio can transform from a Laptop to what HP calls its Forward position to a Tablet.
The transition is achieved with a relatively smooth flick of the wrist. Starting from Laptop mode, I would grab the upper-right corner of the lid and push forward to detach the hidden kickstand from the powerful magnets that hold the panel in an upright position. From there, I simply slid the display toward the edge of where the touchpad and keyboard meet to enter Forward mode, or what others might refer to as a Presentation mode. The panel is positioned at a 60-degree slope, concealing the keyboard while allowing for a better viewing angle. Placing the Folio into full Tablet mode requires another firm push-and-slide motion.
Although switching between the modes is pretty simple, I wish the transitions were achieved with a more fluid sliding or folding motion — something similar to what you’d find in a Lenovo Yoga convertible. If you use too much downward pressure, you can accidentally scrape the bottom of the display across the keyboard. But ultimately, it’s one of the more graceful takes on the kickstand approach I’ve used. I’m also a big fan of how solid the transitions are. When I used the Folio in Laptop mode, there was no unwieldy wobbling from the display. I really had to shake the notebook to shift the screen’s position.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Usually, my biggest complaint about 2-in-1 systems is the often shallow and mushy keyboards keyboards.. That’s not the case with the Folio.
The laptop’s island-style keyboard is evenly spaced with large, backlit keys. Despite only having 1.3 millimeters of key travel (1.5 mm is our minimum), the keys never bottomed out and even had a bit of a snap, thanks to the 71 grams of actuation force.
Audio: Loud, But Brassy
I’ve got to hand it to HP. The company manages to package quite a lot of sound in a relatively thin frame. The laptop easily filled my grandma’s old bedroom with loud, somewhat brassy audio.
Vocals on LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” were big and bold, but while the speakers could provide the bap, the boom was missing. The absence of the lows continued when I played bass-heavy tracks like Ludacris’ “Stand Up” and J. Cole’s “Chaining Day.”