HP EliteBook Folio G1 review: A beauty that’s fundamentally flawed

Price when reviewed

It’s possible the EliteBook Folio G1 is the ultraportable you’ve been dreaming of. Ever since the sub-1kg MacBook arrived on the scene, Apple’s featherweight has been breaking hearts and emptying bank accounts across the globe and – HP’s stratospherically expensive Folio 1020 aside – competitors have been in irksomely short supply. Now, finally, HP has provided a MacBook alternative that doesn’t require you to recant your allegiance to Microsoft.

HP EliteBook Folio G1 review: Design

Spending north of £1,000 sets a certain level of expectation, but the Folio G1 delivers. The look and feel is unashamedly luxurious, and HP has squared off the soft, rounded curves of the Folio 1020 to give the Folio G1 a sharply angled makeover. If polished diamond-cut CNC aluminium is your thing, you’ll love it.

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Build quality remains impeccable. HP has subjected the Folio G1 to a barrage of military tests – the MIL-810-STD certification, if you’re wondering – which consist of dropping the device 26 times from 76cm onto a hard floor, caking it with dust and subjecting it to extremes of altitude and temperature. Pretty much your average day in the Alphr office, basically.


Suffice to say, this is a featherweight laptop that’s certified to survive a battering and live to tell the tale. Rigid plates of metal are clasped together with a chromed cylindrical hinge, and the Folio G1 has a reassuringly solid heft to it. It’s not heavy, though: the 4K touchscreen model here weighs only 1.07kg, and the cheaper Full HD model knocks that down to 970g by dumping the touchscreen and the protective layer of Gorilla Glass. The Apple MacBook is only 150g and 50g lighter respectively.

HP EliteBook Folio G1 review: The most refined ultraportable yet?

Sitting down with the Folio G1 for the first time is a revelatory experience. Up top, the 12.5in 4K touchscreen is pin-sharp, capable of reaching squint-inducing brightness levels and gloriously colourful thanks to the wide-gamut, high-DPI panel. The ability to reach out grab, prod and interact with onscreen elements is a welcome bonus (take that, Apple), and the keyboard and touchpad below are also more than capable of giving the MacBook a run for its money.

Display testing results

Maximum brightness462cd/m2
Contrast ratio1,341:1
Colour accuracyAverage dE 1.93, max dE 6.09
Colour gamut coverage98%

The keyboard, in particular, is a highlight and continues HP’s winning streak. Where the MacBook’s wide, short-travel keys aren’t everyone’s cup of tea (full disclosure: I personally think they’re great), the Folio G1 feels just like a good keyboard should. Each key gives roughly twice as much travel as the MacBook, and typing feels markedly more positive as a result. The touchpad doesn’t quite scale the same world-beating heights, but this is mainly because it lacks OS X’s intuitive array of gesture controls. The hardware itself works flawlessly, and the ability to disable it with a quick double-tap in the top-left corner is handy, too.

If you’re scouring the photographs for a traditional USB port, though, stop now. HP has equipped the Folio G1 with two Thunderbolt 3-enabled USB Type-C ports and a headphone jack. That’s your lot. To be fair, though, that is 100% more connectivity than you get on the MacBook, and the MacBook’s port is slower, supporting “only” USB 3.1.

And if none of this sounds remotely exciting, then get this: the Folio G1 has an infrared 720p webcam. Somewhat disappointingly, this isn’t specifically to improve to your night-time selfies but is instead intended to take advantage of Windows 10 Pro’s facial-recognition login feature, Hello. Combine the webcam, TPM 2 authentication and your face, and you have a super-secure login mechanism that doesn’t require you to type a single thing.


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