It’s been more than two years since HP announced that it made a laptop out of leather, and based on our review the Spectre Folio was more than just a gimmick. It was the company’s take on the Always Connected PC category of thin and light laptops and delivered great battery life and convenient LTE connectivity. Its hinge also allows users to pop the screen out of the frame to pull it towards them and push it flat to become a tablet. Today, HP is following up that unique device with the Elite Folio — a business-first version of the leather convertible that has a similar hinge and runs Windows on ARM.
Instead of using an Intel chip like the original, the Elite Folio uses the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 and can be paired with up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. Though I have concerns about Windows on ARM’s app compatibility, having a Snapdragon processor does bring the Elite Folio some benefits. For one, it uses an X20 LTE modem and X55 for 5G, which should offer faster cellular speeds than the Spectre Folio.
Snapdragon PCs also generally boast long battery lives, and the Elite Folio’s runtime estimate of 24.5 hours is in line with what Qualcomm promised for its new laptop chip.
A few things set the Elite Folio apart from other Snapdragon laptops. Most of them are traditional clamshell laptops, but HP has stuck with convertibles for its connected PCs for years and the Elite Folio is no different. Thanks to its hinge, which is similar to the Spectre’s, you can pull the Elite Folio’s screen towards you and prop it up in front of the keyboard to work directly on the display. You can also flip the display horizontally and push it down to rest on top of the keyboard to use it as a tablet.
Then there’s the Folio’s leather finish, of course, but HP also offers a few of its privacy-centric features here. Specifically, the Elite Folio comes with a built-in mechanical shutter for the 720p webcam and HP’s Sure View privacy screen technology. Speaking of, the device’s 13.5-inch display is slightly larger than the Spectre Folio’s 13.3-inch panel with roughly the same resolution at 1,920 x 1,280. It’ll also support Wacom touch/pen input so you can write or scribble notes more easily. When you’re typing, you’ll be using the company’s “premium” backlit keyboard that’s spill resistant. There’s also a new trackpad has been optimized for a 3:2 aspect ratio, too.
Since this is part of the company’s Elite series of business-first laptops, the Folio also comes with software like HP’s Management Integration Kit and WorkWell. It’s also durable enough to meet military standards (MIL-STD 810H) and is mostly made of recycled magnesium and uses reclaimed ocean-bound plastics in its speaker enclosures. At 2.85 pounds, the Folio is heavier than the company’s Dragonfly series of notebooks.
The Elite Folio will be available in February, and HP says pricing will be shared closer to retail date. It’s interesting that the company chose to use a Snapdragon chipset for its second (and business-centric) Folio-branded device, but it’s entirely possible an Intel version arrives in the future. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if the Elite Folio is as satisfying as its consumer-oriented Spectre counterpart with the ARM-based chip. Stay tuned for our full review to find out.