I’ve been thinking of the “Ultrabook” category of laptops–devised and named by Intel–as being pretty much synonymous with “MacBook Air lookalikes that run Windows.” But HP’s new Folio (no relation to the Foleo) is an Ultrabook that isn’t that Air-like. It aspires to be practical and portable, not super-sleek and sexy.
The Foleo 13 is a 13″ system with an Intel Core i5 processor. It’s pretty thin (.71″) and pretty light (3.3 pounds) but thicker and heavier than the Air and Toshiba’s Portege Z830. It has, however, a fuller complement of ports than the Air, including Ethernet, HDMI, and USB 3.0, with no dongles required. HP claims up to 9 hours of battery life vs. Apple’s 7 hours; that’s impressive if independent testing backs it up. And the price–$899.99 for a machine with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage–undercuts the most comparable MacBook Air by $400.
Buyers of Windows laptops have historically had a limited appetite for systems that emphasize portability rather that offering as many specs as possible at a low price. I don’t think it’s a given that Ultrabooks will catch on–HP’s press release for the Folio quotes IDC saying that it expects sales of 95 million Ultrabooks a year by 2015–but I like the compact form factor and am happy to see PCs with solid-state disks getting affordable, so I hope the category thrives.