HP on Tuesday introduced the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 family of notebooks, which it claims are the world's thinnest and lightest models designed for business users. Powered by Intel's new power-efficient Core M processors, the EliteBooks are only 15.7mm thick, offer a 12.5-inch display, and feature a fanless design for near-silent operation.
HP announced two versions of the EliteBook Folio 1020: a standard model that weighs 2.6 pounds and a Special Edition that weighs only 2.2 pounds, thanks to a proprietary blend of magnesium-lithium alloy and carbon fiber materials. For comparison, Apple's MacBook Air is just over 17mm thick and weighs either 2.38 pounds or 2.96 pounds, depending on display size.
The standard version will be available in February, but HP doesn't plan to release the Special Edition until April. The company hasn't yet disclosed pricing.
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Announced in conjunction with HP's Discover conference in Barcelona, the Folio 1020 line offers up to nine hours of battery life and is built to satisfy military-grade MIL-STD 810g testing for shock resistance, its ability to survive drops, and its ability to withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, or air pressure. The basic model can be configured with either an HD or Quad HD display, in both touch and non-touch varieties. The Special Edition comes with a Quad HD screen by default.
The standard version comes with 128 GB of SSD storage, while the base Special Edition bumps that up to 180 GB. Both versions include a 720p webcam, and both can also be configured with either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
Though HP's new notebooks won't be available until 2015, other Core M devices, such as Lenovo's Yoga 3, have begun to hit the market. Some reviewers have praised the Yoga 3 for its mixture of portability and utility, but others have questioned whether Intel's new chips provide enough power. In an interview, HP director of product management for business notebooks John Groden said Core M is up to most tasks.
Groden said HP's new notebooks are designed for mobile professionals and traveling executives, not for advanced mathematical modeling or other computationally intense applications. He added that for common tasks that on-the-go professionals face -- such as email, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint -- the Folio 1020s won't hit any performance walls.
In addition to new chips, the EliteBooks also feature an improved keyboard designed to provide better key travel and pressure distribution than those found on other ultra-thin laptops. HP's customers have complained today's sleek keyboards are too "mushy and squishy," said Groden.
The Folio 1020s also come with front-facing speakers designed to block background noise so users can run Skype, Lync, and other collaboration tools more effectively. HP also offers the new notebooks with its suite of manageability and security products, which range from fingerprint readers to an "always-on" capability like those in many smartphones and tablets that will let IT administrators remotely wipe a lost or stolen device.
In addition to announcing the EliteBook Folio 1020 series, HP also refreshed its existing line of EliteBook notebooks and convertibles. Enhancements include the latest-generation Intel chips, the same noise-cancelling speakers introduced in the Folio 1020s, and updated, pre-installed management and security software for IT admins.
During the most recent quarter, HP ranked second in global PC shipments behind Lenovo, according to research firm IDC. Analysts don't expect the PC market to improve in 2015, however, and HP will face additional short-term complications as it attempts to split into two companies: HP Inc., which will focus on PCs and printers, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which will compete in the infrastructure, software, and services markets against companies such as Cisco and IBM.
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