The latest company to get into the ultrabook game is Hewlett-Packard. The company today announced the HP Folio, a 13-inch slim laptop that measures 18mm thick.
While it's not as thin as some of the other ultrabooks we've seen, the price is right, at $899, which gets you not only a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) but also an Intel Core i5 CPU. On paper, at least, that beats the Toshiba Portege Z835, which is also $799 to $899 (depending on the retailer), with a 128GB SSD but only a Core i3 CPU. We've also seen ultrabooks from Lenovo and Asus that are closer in look and feel to the MacBook Air, but cost more than $1,000.
If you haven't been paying attention, the ultrabook is less of an organic laptop category than an Intel marketing push, with the aim of getting PC makers to produce really thin laptops with decent battery life and fast, power-efficient processors, at prices that undercut Apple's MacBook Air, the clear inspiration for these products. While we've knocked the concept a bit as a solution in search of a problem, the first wave of hardware we've seen and reviewed has been impressive, although each laptop has had a near-fatal flaw or two.
HP claims its entry is aimed at business users rather than consumers, which is actually where many of HP's more interesting laptop developments get their start, before trickling down to the consumer side. Pitching the Folio as a business laptop is probably a smart move, as the design of the Folio is bland, to be charitable.
It also comes close to sharing a name with one of the most notorious tech flops of the past few years, the Palm Foleo, a never-launched laptop dock for Treo phones. The spelling is different, but as HP now owns Palm, making the connection is unavoidable.
As for the Folio itself, in a brief prerelease hands-on session, it felt solid and reasonably portable, but not nearly as slick and upscale as some of the other ultrabook laptops we've seen. At the moment, however, the combination of price and components seems hard to beat, so we're looking forward to testing and reviewing the final product.
The HP Folio, with an Intel Core i5-2467M CPU, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, and a backlit keyboard, will be available starting December 7 for $899. A TPM chip, for use in secure corporate environments, will be an optional upgrade.