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HP Elitebook Folio: Delivering the business goods

Yardena Arar | Feb. 14, 2013
Business travelers willing to give Windows 8 a spin have a noteworthy option in the HP Folio Elitebook Folio 9470m. Attractively slim and lightweight, this 14-inch Ultrabook delivers an assortment of business-oriented features, including a fingerprint scanner, a smart-card slot, and a solid-state drive that boosts performance on any task involving retrieval of data from storage. The battery life, while not outstanding, should get you through a cross-country flight.

Although the Elitebook Folio 9470m is not a multimedia maven's dream machine, it produces decent audio and sports an adequate HD (720p) webcam. In my test Skype calls, the webcam did a good job of compensating for low lighting and produced a satisfactory image. Surround-sound stereo speakers are located on the left and right sides of the laptop's bottom, where it slopes up to meet the edges. The speaker location isn't ideal, as some of the audio is inevitably muffled by whatever surface is supporting the laptop, but I found the audio quality acceptable for the Skype calls.

The 1366-by-768-pixel LED-backlit display is bright and visible at fairly wide angles from both sides; the field of vision is also pretty good from the top, but less so from below. Still, the Elitebook Folio 9470m should accommodate a small group gathered around a user seated at a desk or conference table.

Performance: The SSD really helps

The 9740m's benchmark performance was generally good, depending on how heavily storage speed figured into the tasks involved, as well as on how much the tasks depended on the power of the laptop's midrange Ultrabook chip (a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3427U), graphics hardware (integrated Intel HD 4000), and system memory (4GB of DD3 RAM).

Where storage mattered most, the 9470m knocked it out of the park, thanks to the SSD. Its PCMark 7 Storage score of 5299.5 was one of the highest we've seen, as was its PCMark 7 Productivity Suite score of 3903. Other scores were less spectacular, although all were at least average and many were above average, a result reflected in its WorldBench 8 score of 76. Its gaming scores were not particularly impressive, unsurprising considering the integrated graphics and 4GB of shared memory. The battery life--a bit over 6.25 hours--was strong, but not eye-poppingly great.

Business software extras

As befits a business laptop, the Elitebook Folio 9470m arrives without a bunch of crapware, and the software that is preinstalled is useful. CyberLink Media Suite, for instance, includes apps for viewing and managing multimedia, as well as apps for working with disk images and--when the laptop is connected to an optical drive--CDs and DVDs. PDF Complete provides simple PDF creation and viewing tools.

The HP ProtectTools Security Manager supplies apps for managing passwords and setting up credentials, including the aforementioned fingerprint scanner and SpareKey, an app that lets you authenticate yourself based on personal questions you set up in advance.

The Elitebook Folio 9470m satisfies a lot of business needs, offering a full range of connections and security features you won't find in most consumer laptops. It's attractive, compact, and reasonably lightweight, and it offers good--if not always outstanding--performance and battery life. HP could have provided a higher-resolution display option, a better keyboard, and a little more system memory; some users might wish for more storage space, too. The price tag is also a tad high--but not sufficiently so to deter business travelers from taking it into serious consideration.


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