HP Elite Folio: Extreme mobility for a price
PCWorld|September 2021
A superbright screen and all-day battery life make this a laptop you can use even in broad daylight.
MARK HACHMAN

The HP Elite Folio wraps vivid display options, 4G and 5G connectivity options, and all-day battery life within a lightweight, stylish design. It is clearly a winning design when it comes to mobility.

The 2-in-1 laptop’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G processor has its caveats, though. Its performance still can’t compete with that of modern AMD Ryzen or Intel Core processors, and software compatibility issues persist. These limitations may be tough to tolerate considering the Elite Folio’s premium price tag.

BASIC FEATURES

HP’s Elite Folio is available in either an 8GB RAM/16GB SSD fixed configuration on HP’s website for $1,889 (go.pcworld.com/1889), or a configurable Elite Folio option (go. pcworld.com/cono) that begins at $1,895.04. It’s worth noting that while the first option appears to be ready to ship, selecting the configurable option puts the ship date at October 7—with a big qualifier: “This platform has an extended build time. Component availability, and hence the ship date, may change.” A different configuration is $1,949.95 on Amazon (go.pcworld.com/1949). closer to a 2-in-1 Windows tablet. The keyboard does not detach, as it does with Microsoft’s Surface Pro X (go. pcworld.com/mprx) or Surface Pro 7+ (go. pcworld.com/mp7p). Instead, it can rotate flat into a tablet mode. A “hybrid” mode allows it to pull forward, hiding the keyboard for streaming video and using the screen as a primary interface. HP also includes a pen, which incurs an additional cost with rival tablets.

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G

Display: 13.3-inch (1920x1280) IPS touch, 400 nits rated

Memory: 8GB/16GB LPDDR4x-4266 (16GB as tested)

Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB PCIe NVMe SSD (512GB as tested)

Graphics: Adreno 690

Ports: 2 USB-C 5Gbps (DisplayPort 1.4,USB PD)

Security: Windows Hello

Camera: 720p (user-facing, Windows Hello)

Battery: 46Wh (rated); 47.6Wh (as tested)

Wireless: 8021.11ac (2x2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5, Snapdragon X20 LTE Cat 16

Operating system: Windows 10 Home/Pro (Windows 10 Home as tested)

Dimensions: 11.75x9.03x0.63 inches

Weight: 2.93 pounds, 3.57 with charger

Color: Black

While the Elite Folio looks like a clamshell laptop, it’s closer to a 2-in-1 Windows tablet. The keyboard does not detach, as it does with Microsoft’s Surface Pro X (go. pcworld.com/mprx) or Surface Pro 7+ (go. pcworld.com/mp7p). Instead, it can rotate flat into a tablet mode. A “hybrid” mode allows it to pull forward, hiding the keyboard for streaming video and using the screen as a primary interface. HP also includes a pen, which incurs an additional cost with rival tablets.

The Elite Folio’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G (go.pcworld.com/qscx) is an Arm processor that mimics the customized Arm chip used inside the Surface Pro X and the Lenovo Flex 5G (go.pcworld.com/flx5). Those tablets, however, used a slightly earlier version of the Snapdragon 8cx, the Gen 1.

These Arm chips come with trade-offs. Historically, they’ve run more slowly than an Intel Core or AMD Ryzen chip, in part because of the need to emulate traditional x86 instructions. That’s less of a concern now, as more applications can run either on native Arm code or via the web. Just don’t expect to play games on the Elite Folio—it’s an optimized Office or web-browsing machine, first and foremost.

The Elite Folio may look a lot like the 2019 Spectre Folio (go.pcworld.com/sf0l). There’s one major external difference: Unlike the Spectre Folio, which comes in real leather cladding, the Elite Folio is wrapped in “vegan leather,” just a fancy name for polyurethane. That material conveys a luxurious look while being animal-friendly. Inside, the keyboard deck has a more traditional plasticky surface.

The low-power Snapdragon chip allows the Folio to run completely without a fan. You can clearly feel the warmth that the CPU puts out at the bottom of the screen, though it never even comes close to reaching uncomfortable temperatures.

The HP Elite Folio’s display is pleasing: bright, with vivid colors that cover 99 percent of the SRGB color gamut, though only 74 percent of AdobeRGB and 75 percent of sRGB, as measured by our colorimeter. You might not buy a laptop to work outside, but if you do, the Elite Folio is ready with two bright display options: a base model with a maximum 400 nits of brightness, and a 1,000-nit higher-end option, which we didn’t review. Turning up the display brightness will run down the integrated 46Wh battery more quickly, of course.

The Elite Folio includes built-in 4G LTE capabilities, with a SIM slot in the pen cubby, which we’ll talk about below. HP tells us there will be 5G options in the future.

The port selection is sparse—two USB-C (not Thunderbolt) connections, one on either side of the chassis. Connecting to a Thunderbolt dock enabled work on a single external 4K display, which satisfied our productivity needs.

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