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HP EliteBook Folio 1020: Thin and rugged for the enterprise

Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

HP EliteBook Folio 1020

8.1 / 5

pros and cons

  • Thin yet rugged
  • High-resolution display option
  • Good keyboard
  • Battery life
  • Erratic touch pad
  • Highly reflective glossy screen
  • Expensive
  • Editors' review
  • Specs

HP EliteBook Folio 1020 gallery

The first thing you notice about the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 is how thin it is; at just 0.62 inches it is thinner than most laptops. It only weighs 2.68 pounds, and the compact form makes it all the more impressive that HP was able to ruggedize the chassis to stand up to the hard knocks of the work force.

The 1020 is available with a high-resolution (2560 x 1440) touch screen which is beautiful on our review unit. It is not as bright as other laptops we've tested, but it still looks good. Touch operation is precise, and interacting with Windows 8.1 is natural.

HP EliteBook Folio 1020 specifications as reviewed:

  • CPU: Intel Core M-5Y71
  • Display: 12.5-inch touch screen, 2560 x 1440
  • Memory/ storage: 8GB / 256GB
  • Ports: 2- USB 3.0, HDMI, docking slot, audio, power, microSD
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi (a/b/g/n/ac); Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 36 WHr, 7 hours observed
  • Dimensions: 12.2 x 8.27 x 0.62 inches
  • Weight: 2.68 pounds

Rugged hardware

Stepping around the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 you find the aluminum casing that keeps it light is also quite durable. HP has incorporated mil-spec ruggedization in this small frame, a plus for use in the enterprise. It can easily stand up to the bumps of the road for regular business travelers. The slightly rubberized bottom of the unit is a nice touch that provides a secure grip for holding the laptop.

On the left of the base is the Kensington lock port, full sized HDMI, USB 3.0, and a microSD slot. The right side houses the audio in/out jack, another USB 3.0, a docking slot, and the power jack.

Opening the lid exposes the 12.5-inch display, a 720p web cam, and the keyboard and touch pad. The touch pad uses HP's ForcePad technology that lacks physical buttons. It uses pressure sensitivity to determine when the user is trying to click the pad. This takes a while to get used to and occasionally triggers unintended actions. In testing this required thinking carefully about how hands were placed on the palm rest as slightly brushing the edge of the touch pad resulted in the cursor moving around.

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Taking it for a spin

The Intel Core M processor inside the 1020 runs Windows 8.1 nicely, with good performance at all times. The fanless design of the Core M is what makes the thin laptop form possible. The 1020 does not run hot despite the lack of a fan, although it does get noticeably warm under a heavy load. This performance is aided by the 8GB of memory inside the review unit. The 240GB of flash storage is fast which keeps things running quickly.

Touch operation is as expected, both with the touch screen and the touchpad. This takes full advantage of Windows, and should be even better once Windows 10 ships.

The chiclet keys have a nice feel due to the tactile feedback that is just resistant enough. The low profile keys have reasonable travel to help with this. It's not the best keyboard on a laptop I've tested but it's good enough for rapid typing. There is a fingerprint reader on the right side of the keyboard between the keys and the front of the base.

Less than perfect

Overall the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 is a solid enterprise quality laptop, but it does fall short in several areas. Battery life is not very good as we only consistently got around seven hours on a charge in our testing. It won't last all day, especially when traveling. I expected better battery life due to the Core M processor and was surprised to find it didn't last longer.

As mentioned, the ForcePad technology HP used with the touch pad is not ideal. It is too erratic and during testing I never felt comfortable using it. I experienced too many jumps of the cursor that impacted the work I was doing, even after turning sensitivity way down in the settings.

The third area where the 1020 falls short is the glossy screen. It's not worse than other laptops with a similar display but as is common with them the glossy screen is highly reflective in bright light. On the 1020 it impacts usability not only outdoors in sunlight but even when working in bright rooms indoors.

The skinny

The HP EliteBook Folio 1020 is a well-constructed laptop that is suited for the enterprise. It is one of the thinnest enterprise grade laptops, and doesn't sacrifice mil-spec ruggedization in the process. It features decent performance and meets expectations in all but a few areas.

The HP EliteBook Folio 1020 pricing starts at $1,249 from HP. The review unit as configured is $1,649.

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