Hands-On with the HP Spectre Folio

Posted on October 1, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 25 Comments

HP’s newest convertible seeks to redefine the premium PC. Here are my initial thoughts.

It’s an interesting mix.

As HP put it, the Folio is where modern vintage—a phrase my daughter previously pegged as “something new that looks like it’s old”—with personal technology. But this isn’t marketing pablum: In this case, HP literally melded automobile-quality leather with more traditional PC materials like aluminum and magnesium. And the result is … interesting.

Laptop mode.

When you first look at the Folio, it appears that HP has just wrapped a leather cover around a thin and light laptop. But it’s more sophisticated than that.

Tablet mode.

Like Robocop, the Spectre Folio is a union of organic and metallic materials. And the leather isn’t a cover at all. Instead, it is the foundation for a series of layers that include the battery, the keyboard and trackpad, HP’s smallest-ever motherboard, and various aluminum and magnesium cages and containers.

The motherboard.

It’s not user-serviceable, which might have been interesting, but HP tells me that it can get in there, aiding serviceability. But the real success story here, from my viewpoint, is how easily the Folio converts between its four usage modes, which are folio, laptop, forward (for consumption), and tablet.

This is no small deal. Especially for HP: Its three different Envy x2 PCs—the Intel, Qualcomm, and Chromebook versions—each features a unique type cover with its own origami-like capabilities. And none are ideal.

But the Spectre Folio switches between these modes naturally. And while it’s not clear if this is directly attributable to the leather cover’s design, it’s a fact. It removes a usage barrier.

Yes, there’s a pen. With tilt.

Beyond the unique form factor stuff, the Spectre Folio comes in on the low-end from a base specifications perspective. There’s a dual-core Y-series Core m5 or m6 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of solid-state storage. The screen, sadly, is 16:9 and 13.3-inches; it can be had in 4K but that will cost extra.

Beyond this, there are some high points. 4K/LTE is standard, and it works with AT&T, Spring, and T-Mobile in the US. Battery life is rated at 18 hours, which seems impressive. There are two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports plus one USB-C port.

The audio is driven by four speakers and Bang & Olufsen enhancements.

The pricing is reasonable for what it is: The HP Spectre Folio starts at $1299. I’m hoping to review it.


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