Review: The HP Elitebook Folio 1020 G1

The HP Elitebook Folio is the benchmark for HP’s laptop range, and costing a cool £1703, there is a great expectation for it to deliver. With Apple showing no signs of slowing down in their quest for total domination of the tech world, HP have really ramped up their efforts to narrow the gap between competitors.

The smaller size is due to the EliteBook Folio 1020’s 12.5-inch display, which boasts 2,560-by-1,440 resolution, a big step up from the 1,440-by-900 resolution of the Apple MacBook Air 13, but not as high as the Dell XPS 13 Touch, with its 3,200-by-1,800 3K (QHD+) screen. The display offers pretty good viewing angles as well, with minimal colour shifting even at steep angles. The screen is covered with edge-to-edge glass, which is a bit reflective—enough so that working near a window or under fluorescent lighting might cause some serious glare.

The keyboard uses HP’s usual tile design, with square keys and half-size keys for the arrows and function buttons, but it offers decent feedback and key travel. Backlighting on the keys makes it easier to type in a dark or dim room, while a spill-resistant design means you can eat lunch at your desk or take the laptop to Starbucks without living in fear of spills.

More intriguing is the touchpad, which uses HP’s ForcePad, a glass-surfaced touch sensor that registers the pressure of every touch and swipe to give you all of the usual point-and-click and multitouch gesture support you expect, but without any moving parts. The right and left buttons don’t actually click, but are merely touch zones along the bottom of the sensor. The lack of physical and audio feedback is noticeably different from the usual touchpad, but it takes almost no time to get used to it. Above the keyboard are two built-in speakers, with DTS Studio Sound enhancement. The speakers offer solid sound quality, with minimal distortion at high volumes.

The aluminum-and-magnesium-alloy construction isn’t just for looks. The EliteBook Folio 1020 is built to MIL-STD 810G standards, which include a range of semi-rugged capabilities, like surviving four-foot drops, functioning in spite of shock and vibration, and withstanding pretty significant temperature fluctuations. It’s not the laptop to carry into a warzone, but you can travel with without worry.

All in all, the Elitebook Folio 1020 G1 is a great laptop for someone on the move and is a great alternative in an Apple dominated world.