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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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Hands-On with the HP Spectre Folio”

  1. skborders

    At 16:9 it is too long for portrait use. Does the tablet separate from the base or no? Nice looking though.

    • madthinus

      In reply to skborders:

      From the videos elsewhere, the base does not separate. The leather bounds it all together.

    • dstrauss

      In reply to skborders:

      It doesn't separate, and that's the beauty of this design. Sturdy bottom like a laptop (no kickstand or bail digging into your knees); no keyboard on your lap when folded; no origami case; quick conversion from laptop to note taking and back.

  2. davidD

    The article says it comes with an m5 or m6 processor, yet the picture below this shows an i7 sticker. Which is correct?

  3. dexman335

    Is the carrier "Spring" actually "Sprint"?

  4. Winner

    But is it Corinthian leather?

  5. dontbe evil

    not really like it, but still better than any apple device

  6. Illusive_Man

    Its too bad Windows 10 is still such a ugly OS.

  7. harrymyhre

    I like it a lot

  8. longhorn

    "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."

    This reminds me of “Always Connected PCs”. Where is the hype?

  9. Simard57

    where are the 3:2 models from HP?

    • longhorn

      In reply to Simard57:

      3:2 screens are only "compatible" with Surface or Huawei devices and a few ARM powered PCs. If you see HP with Intel processor it's a given there won't be a 3:2 screen. A 3:2 screen is a powerful feature only given to "deserving" models.

  10. ben55124

    Something new - so kudos for effort. If the folio is for business, perhaps they should make a Trapper Keeper edition for the kids.

  11. digiguy

    Beautiful laptop, but with a deal-breaker for me... the angle is too narrow... you cannot push the screen back enough to be comfortable while using the keyboard... so close...

  12. Jonne70

    Very nice, but 16:9 aspect ratio for a productivity device (and huge bezels) is a no go for me, unfortunately. Otherwise I would definately consider it.

  13. FalseAgent

    quite exciting to see the usage of different types of materials in making laptops...will definitely try to feel one if I see it on display at a store.

    Not digging the mid-hinge design though.

  14. PeterC

    I’m quite impressed with this. Be interesting to see how it reviews. I can fully see why hp wanted to get this out in the open before whatever ms show off tomorrow. It’s got the ports and that leather will feel gorgeous.

  15. MikeGalos

    Looks like we're seeing a trend toward automotive materials with HP doing leather and Microsoft doing Alcantara.

    That makes sense, there's already millions of dollars in R&D on durable luxury materials from the auto industry.

  16. Polycrastinator

    The tan color is a stretch for me. I saw another article elsewhere showing the device in black leather, and that looks pretty sophisticated and professional, but the tan color with the black computer components just doesn't work IMO. Still, this is an interesting device. It really does feel a bit like they asked why people like folios and made a device inspired by that.

    • dstrauss

      In reply to Polycrastinator:
      Tan is the most classic color for an executive folio (look at Levenger or Amazon), and I'm sure that's why they went with it and their ash silver (dark gray). I think it will be first choice on order day. The Burgundy/gold is for those with bling...

    • wright_is

      In reply to Polycrastinator:

      If it was wild leather, I'd certainly take a look at it, it would pass to my wild leather shoulder bag. But high-gloss tan with the structure effect, no thanks.

  17. dstrauss

    Now that 4G LTE is available in the customizable version, I've got a near maxed out version on order. I too share the 16:9 phobia, but that instant switching from laptop to note taking and back is BIG draw, not to mention the real laptop mode versus a kickstand or origami cover. I've used tablets since the HP twist and turn days (and a Surface Pro owner since V2), and it is uncanny how often you are note taking in OneNote and you need to get to the keyboard to look something up or search for files (local and on the server). I'm a OneNote junkie, and other 16:9 2-in-1 users say they love being able to have oneNote open in a 1/3 window with the rest of the space devoted to a search or Office window.

    The other thing that struck me as brilliant is that 4G LTE was available immediately (in preconfigured i7/8gb/256gb model) and only two weeks later in the i7/16gb/1tb that I custom ordered. Microsoft - NO Surface Pro 6 with LTE (they let you order the Pro 5 if you want LTE), and WHERE IS the Surface Go LTE?