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HP Spectre Folio Laptop: A Complete Review
November 5, 2018
With improvements to technology and craftsmanship bridging the gap between cost and performance, it can be difficult for individual laptops to stand out in the super-saturated notebook market. This is even true in the world of premium laptops where the focus narrows on extra capacity or performance.
While these are important characteristics, the HP Spectre Folio 13t laptop takes an unexpected turn with its appearance, boasting an exterior of chrome-tanned, 100% genuine leather.
Professionals and executives slip laptops into leather accessories all the time, but a bonded leather exterior is a truly unique experience.
The HP Spectre family already has easy convertible features that open them up for a world of different uses, and the HP Spectre Folio’s high-quality leather exterior goes beyond being a big style bonus. It also has the potential to be more convenient and safer.
In this overview, we’ll take a comprehensive look at the HP Spectre Folio line, from its design to the hardware specs. To start, let’s look at the greater HP Spectre series and how this 2-in-1 laptop stands apart from typical configurations.
Getting started with HP’s Spectre family of convertible laptops
Designed primarily to provide a premium convertible platform for computing, the HP Spectre laptop line has been kept thoroughly up-to-date with a variety of different color and configuration options.
These are intended as HP’s top-of-the-line premium laptops, although there are some exceptions like the HP ZBook mobile workstations for designers and engineers. Bearing that in mind, it was only fitting that the HP Spectre would receive a high-end finish like real leather.
Available in 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch display configurations, both models are designed for easy grab-and-go portability, weighing less than 3 lbs and 5 lbs respectively, and packing impressive battery life to boot.
The HP Spectre’s multiple options for use also set it apart from the competition, and we’ll cover that functionality below.
Performance computing in a convertible configuration
Most convertible laptops bill themselves as 2-in-1 laptops, but the HP Spectre actually supports three different modes of use. Each mode is tailored to suit different tasks or workspace situations, and they can be adapted based on preference, furnishings, or otherwise.
While all HP Spectre laptops are designed for smooth and simple conversion, the addition of leather makes the HP Spectre Folio’s exterior a uniquely comfortable experience.
Here’s a brief look at the line’s three convertible modes.
This is exactly what you think it is: your traditional work layout, the same as any notebook. As you may expect, this setting is intended for a variety of uses where you’ll need regular keyboard access.
If you prefer a different angle, the 360-degree hinge with a backlit-keyboard gives you plenty of options to comfortably adjust your setup based on your preference.
Fold your HP Spectre display away from the keyboard and then stand the entire laptop up, using the edge of the keyboard and the top edge of the display as a base.
While media mode is primarily designed for heavy touch screen use, it also supports a clearer view of streaming media when necessary. The screen emphasis in this mode also lends itself to delivering presentations at work or sharing a slideshow with friends.
Just fold your display and keyboard over one another, and use your HP Spectre like a tablet. Like media mode, this is intended more for mixed touch screen interactions with or without your stylus.
Does it come with a stylus?
As with other HP Spectre laptops, some models comes with an HP digital pen in dark ash silver for touch screen interactions and is included in the base price. To blend in with the deluxe exterior, you can even secure the pen using a simple leather attachment on the right side of the keyboard.
Does it offer traditional laptop configurations?
The HP Spectre line is primarily focused on convertible laptops, but if you prefer a traditional laptop configuration, the HP Spectre 13t laptop is a powerful alternative. It offers similarly robust hardware features and the touch features of the convertible version.
The world’s first genuine leather convertible laptop
To create a genuine HP premium laptop, they took the HP Spectre’s performance potential and coupled it with a truly next-level exterior.
Designed for comfort, style, and portability, the HP Spectre Folio is more than just a show pony. Sure, it looks good, but it brings more tangible benefits along with its flash exterior.
The HP Spectre Folio is available in cognac brown with a dark ash silver base and keyboard frame in the 13.3-inch configuration, although your options are due to expand as HP® has plans to offer additional colors.
A truly unique kind of portability
With the long battery life and low overall weight alongside a versatile leather exterior, the HP Spectre Folio is uniquely portable. While it includes all the latest hardware and features, the HP Spectre Folio has a classic feel that underscores a level of comfort rarely associated with such a powerful device.
Users typically single out laptops that are light and small for their portability, but overall comfort and ease-of-use can still be critical factors. The addition of the all genuine leather balances the best of the past and future, combining the comfort of a leather-bound book and the compact potential of a PC.
The added tactile experience can be a critical extra ingredient for technology that you handle frequently. The exterior gets even more comfortable as you use it - just like any high-quality leather or denim piece would weather naturally.
The potential to work with three different modes means you’ll want a device that feels comfortable each and every time you shift between modes, and the HP Spectre Folio fits that bill.
How does the price stack up?
Depending on how you configure your HP Spectre Folio, its cost versus other models in the line is not as steep as you may imagine. From a cost perspective, there are other reasons why such a well-finished laptop might save time or money in your carrying and accessory routine.
Cut out unnecessary accessories
It’s a more utilitarian concern, but the leather exterior can add to the safety of working on-the-go while potentially cutting out redundant accessories from your life. If you’re working with a laptop that’s worth showcasing and that’s comfortable enough to stow under your arm at just 3.28 lbs, you can get away with not owning a slip or briefcase.
The comfort-driven leather design actually incorporates many of the benefits you’d experience with other travel or carrying accessories at a lower price than you’d ever expect for an all-leather carrying case.
Is it really more comfortable than metal or plastic?
This question is best answered through direct experience because there’s no better way to determine if that factor is a big change for you. However, leather is a consistently desirable alternative to synthetic textiles in many contexts.
Given that it’s generally found more comfortable than synthetics, the same goes for how it compares to metal or plastic laptop exteriors. With these other surfaces, it can be a bit more difficult to spontaneously pick up your laptop, fold it, and take it wherever you need.
Hardware specs and customization options
The HP Spectre Folio may have been conceived as a show-stopping concept laptop, but it’s built with many practical advantages - like powerful starting specs and options for customization.
Here are some of the features and potential configurations you can explore while building your own.
Powerful processors and integrated graphics
With the HP Spectre Folio, you’ll have some options where processing power and graphics are concerned. It has the latest processor options available and you can choose from an 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 processor.
To keep up with visual tasks, each processor includes integrated Intel UHD Graphics 615 as your starting option. If you have a media heavy-routine that requires extra graphics capacity, you can upgrade from the standard 8GB of onboard GPU memory to as much as 16GB.
Massive SSD storage potential and RAM
One of the HP Spectre Folio’s greatest technical advantages is the wide variety of storage options available. Integrated graphics draw from your computer’s memory, so if you need the best visual performance, you should upgrade to the max RAM and storage options.
It starts with 256GB of high-speed PCIe® NVMe™ SSD storage, but there are three upgrade options for up to 2TB of storage. Whichever amount you choose, you’ll still enjoy the efficiency of an SSD.
Each HP Folio is also loaded with 8 to 16GB of onboard LPDDR3-1866 SDRAM, which means better response times and less drain on your laptop’s power supply.
When it comes to laptops with a long battery life, the HP Spectre Folio is well prepared for just about any eventuality. It starts with a standard 65W AC power adapter but ups the ante with a 6-cell, 54.28 Wh Lithium ion battery.
Thanks to the smaller motherboard configurations, the HP Spectre Folio also runs more efficiently than other models in the series. You can expect as much as 18 hours of battery life - far more than a traditional school or work day.
Between the extra comfort of the all-leather exterior and convenience of 18 hours of power, the HP Spectre Folio’s portability helps it stand out even more.
Display and touch screen features
HP® has built a 13.3-inch diagonal Full High Definition (FHD) IPS micro-edge WLED-backlit touchscreen into this laptop. It also delivers 1080p with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
As mentioned, the HP Spectre Folio’s starting price includes an HP stylus to make touch-screen use even smoother. And to protect against wear, you have the option to upgrade from a standard display to Corning® Gorilla® Glass for added confidence.
Premium speakers and audio design
The HP Spectre Folio further raises the bar with a sound design from Bang & Olufsen that includes quad speakers for an even deeper sonic experience, expert tuning, and HP Audio Boost. With these strong visual and audio features, the HP Spectre Folio manages to preserve and improve on the line’s high-quality multimedia outlay.
Is it right for you?
Now that you know just about everything about the premium HP Spectre Folio laptop, it’s up to you to decide if it has the right balance of features for you. In addition to the all-leather exterior and design aimed at comfort and ease of use, it still has the specs so many users will love.
So, is it right for your needs? If the advantages and potential uses covered above resonate with you, then it’s worth considering - particularly with the competitive starting price and robust technical specs.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.