For the first 12 years of my life, I knew a notebook to be something in which one took notes and could often carry in one’s pocket. Then, in the mid-1990s, a friend got back from his holiday in the U.S. and suggested that as a card-carrying tech enthusiast, I should get a notebook. I was flummoxed. “Think of it as an advanced Rolodex,” he explained. The Rolodex was the most advanced gadget I had. How could something be better? My friend called me home one day and whipped out the contraption. The heavy, bulky file-shaped object was a miniature computer, running an early version of Windows. The notebook, aka the laptop, made my day that day.
Cut to the present and I, as a literature student, knew folio meant a “book made with large sheets of paper, especially used in early printing” as the Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries website defines it. But I had to ‘re-learn’ what the word meant, and I have to blame PC and printer major HP for that.
Earlier this year, the company brought to India a new premium laptop, the HP Spectre Folio ( ₹1,99,990). Made of leather, among other things, this had me scratching my head again. Granted that there’s more to the construction than leather, the closed Folio does look like a leather file or folio, if you will. The Cognac Brown leather external is rich, feels great in your hand, and the detailed stitching and embossed HP logo adds a dash of class. It’s a device you can flaunt with élan whether you’re at the exclusive club, attending the haute couture show, or drumming out the finer details of that business deal on your private jet.
Look beyond the leather externals and the device is a very capable touchscreen ultrabook convertible, powered by an Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. Running Windows 10 Pro, boot-up is superfast because of the 512GB flash memory drive. Plus, it supports Windows Hello. Unlike other ultrportables, the Folio, at a shade below 1.5 kg, has delectable heft which would inspire you to take it along on your travels. This workhorse sports three USB-C ports, two of which support the Thunderbolt standard, and like Apple’s MacBook Pro, can be charged using any of the ports.
The 13.3-inch screen supports full high-definition and working on spreadsheets and documents was a breeze, while I loved watching Lost in Space on Netflix. It’s a pity the screen doesn’t support 4K videos. Using the backlit keyboard though is a breeze and a blessing to work on while making a presentation in the dark.
The bundled stylus was great with apps, and while I’m not too much of an artist, I’m sure designers would love the fact that they can sketch on this device, on demand. With so thin a chassis and fan-less design, I was concerned about the device overheating, but the Folio gave me no cause to complain. With multiple browser tabs open and music playing in the background, I was still able to play favourites such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Dirt Rally without breaking into a sweat. But while the Bang & Olufsen speakers on the Folio are loud, they sound tinny. But I plugged in my Bowers & Wilkins headphones and was grooving along to Puccini soon.
I was able to get through my workdays easily on a single charge, even when I used multimedia rich apps, with much charge to spare. I also liked the very many modes in which one can use the Folio—especially the forward mode to watch videos—though I did feel jittery while popping out the screen. That said, I found that if one treated the Folio with the amount of care one will shower on any other ultraportable, it wouldn’t disappoint. Thus, one should be mindful of little things like putting the device in its sleeve while slipping it into a bag, to preserve the leather. While I didn’t face any spills while using the Folio, I don’t know how the leather will react to one.
The HP Spectre Folio, at ₹1,99,990, is a device which any stylish business leader would love to use and carry. For a Windows enthusiast, it combines the power of a Microsoft Surface laptop with the convenience of the Surface tablet, albeit in an uber-fashionable avatar. Just remember to shower it with tender love and care.