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

Price when reviewed

HP EliteBook Folio G1 review: Performance and battery life

Fall for the charms of the Folio G1 and – at least if you’re in the UK – you’ll be presented with two choices. The cheaper of the two models (currently £1,139 at store.hp.com/uk) partners a 1.1GHz Core m5-6Y54 with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a matte Full HD display. The top-end model, meanwhile, bumps up the price to £1,379, but has a 1.2GHz Core m7-6Y75 with vPro support, 8GB of RAM, a slightly smaller 240GB SSD and a 4K touchscreen. Considering that a MacBook with Core m7 processor, 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM costs £1,249 inc VAT, that’s fairly competitive.

I tested the faster of the two and, in my time with it, it was flawless. I am something of a fan of Intel’s Core m processors, though. As long as you don’t task them with heavy, extended workloads, they routinely feel as quick as devices with similar-generation Core i processors. This limitation did mean that the Folio G1 took its sweet time with our video-encoding and multitasking tests, but it’s right up there where I’d expect it to be compared with rival devices.


HP has dropped the ball in some ways, though. One disappointment is that high-speed NVMe SSDs aren’t an option on the Core i5 and core i7 models in the UK. Instead, you’ll have to make do with standard mSATA solid-state drives, which seems a shame. The SSD in my review unit didn’t come close to the speeds of the drives in the Apple MacBook. Admittedly, the difference in real-world use may be slight, but that’s little consolation. The ability to whisk around gigabytes of data in mere seconds can make a tangible difference when you’re really pushing a laptop to the limit.

Battery life presents me with a different dilemma. According to other online reviews, the cheaper Full HD version actually fares pretty well for stamina – it’s not far behind the 2016 Apple MacBook. On the pricier model I have here, however, the 4K touchscreen takes its toll. With four times the pixels of the Full HD variant, power consumption soars, and in our video-rundown tests, with the screen calibrated to 170cd/m2, the HP lasted a paltry 4hrs 41mins. That’s not even half as long as the Apple MacBook, which lasted 10hrs 12mins.


HP EliteBook Folio review: Verdict

In the midst of the 1990s, back when some marketing genius first coined the term “ultraportable”, the technology simply was not up to the job. Achieving an acceptable balance between performance, usability, build quality and battery life was impossible; sacrifices had to be made. Slow processors, low-resolution screens and dreadful battery life were the norm.

Now, in 2016, HP is attempting to show just how far we’ve come with the EliteBook Folio G1. It’s beautifully constructed, light and powerful enough to do almost everything you could ask of it. But with barely enough battery life to scrape halfway through the working day, you have to wonder what HP was thinking when it decided to put in such a power-hungry 4K touchscreen.

Until I can get my hands on the longer-lasting Full HD version, there’s only one thing I can recommend: buy an Apple MacBook instead.

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