HP Spectre Folio Review: A Luxurious Leather-Clad Beauty

HP Spectre Folio: Leather Is The New Premium In Laptops

Standing out in a sea of excellent laptops is tough nowadays, especially with a metal chassis being the bare minimum point of entry to the premium class. Each company offers its own unique take – Microsoft has Alcantara keyboards, Dell offers super thin screen borders and carbon fiber, Lenovo has fancy hinges and OLED displays, Apple has its touch bar, while Asus and Acer offer value propositions. So what’s a laptop brand like HP to do when faced with tough competition and a virtual sea of options for consumers?

Meet the HP Spectre Folio, the company’s latest ultra-portable 2-in-1 13-inch hybrid notebook that embraces a bit of what also makes things like luxury cars great – high-quality leather and classy design. While Microsoft only adorns its keyboards with Alcantara, HP covers the entire Spectre Folio exterior in supple, textured leather that transforms it into a more organic accessory, rather than just a sterile productivity, entertainment or content creation tool. 

HP Spectre Folio 03

This isn’t your grandma’s Honda Civic-grade leather either; think more on the level of an Audi A8 with the aromatic properties of a Bentley. It’s the first notebook we’ve ever tested that has that fresh, new luxury car smell that leaves you wanting an occasional whiff of its scent. This may draw odd looks from those passing by in public, but we don’t care, it’s the first notebook we’ve come across that’s worth a sniff, no scratching required.

Of course, you can’t have a sexy form without the functional guts to back it up, so HP offers the option of 8th generation Amber Lake Intel Core i5 or i7 Y-series processors. The 5-watt TDP U-series processors are dual-cores with four threads, optimized for ultra-thin and light form factors, packaged as a single-chip solution and designed for pairing with LTE connectivity that serves as a successor for the previous Intel Core M-series platforms.

HP Spectre Folio
Specifications & Features
Processor Options 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8500Y Dual Core (4MB Cache, 1.5GHz to 4.2GHz)
13.3-inch 1080p IPS micro-edge WLED-backlit touchscreen
Active Pen included
Gorilla Glass 4
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 615
16GB LPDDR3 (onboard)
256GB Samsung PM961
Audio Bang & Olufsen-tuned audio
Ethernet NA
Wireless Connectivity
Intel 8265 802.11ac 2x2, Bluetooth Version 4.2
Intel XMM 7560 LTE modem (dual SIM - 1x micro SIM, 1x eSIM)
Interface (Left)
1 x USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen1), 3.5mm Headset/Microphone
Interface (Right)
2 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3.0 PCIe x4),
Interface (Back) N/A
1080p FHD front camera with IR 
Windows Hello support
Operating System
Windows 10 Home
Battery 6-cell, 54.28Whr
Dimensions 0.6 (H) x 12.6 (W) x 9.23 (D) inches 
3.28 lbs
Manufacturer Warranty
1-year hardware warranty, 90-day phone support
Pricing $1,758.98 as configured (build to order)

HP Spectre Folio 11
HP offers the Intel Core i5-8200Y and i7-8500Y as the two processor options. Both processors share the same dual-core, 4MB cache and Intel UHD Graphics 615, but the Core i7-8500Y has a 200 MHz base clock and 300 MHz Turbo clock advantage. Intel clocks the Core i7-8500Y base clock at a paltry 1.5 GHz, but it can Turbo up to 4.2 GHz when needed. The Spectre Folio is a completely fan-less and vent-less design, so its dead-silent and doesn’t need the occasional cleaning via compressed air.

The Core i7-8500Y is a $200 up-charge alone and the only CPU available with 16GB of RAM. Ready-to-ship and retail configurations come with 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, but a 16GB option is available for build-to-order with the Intel Core i7-8500Y upgrade for $300. A 256GB PCIe NVME SSD is the smallest SSD available, which is standard on ready-to-ship and retail models. Those willing to wait can opt for 512GB, 1TB or 2TB options at a cost of $140, $440 or $1040, respectively.

There’s only a single screen option, a 13.3-inch, 1080p, IPS, micro-edge WLED-backlit and touchscreen display. It’s no ordinary flat panel, however. HP claims it’s a low power consumption panel that only sips 1W of power and delivers up to 400 nits of brightness. HP plans to offer a 4K option later, too. Regardless of resolution, the Spectre Folio touch screen features Gorilla Glass 4 for added protection and includes a standard HP Active Pen for drawing and note taking.

Prices start at $1299 for a base model with the Core i5-8200Y, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. Best Buy sells a slightly upgraded model with the Core i7-8500Y for $1399 but we’ve seen it go on sale for $1249.99 at certain retailers. Our review unit arrived with the Core i7-8500Y, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD and integrated LTE to always stay connected and available as build-to-order for $1758.98.

Let’s take a closer look at the hardware design to see if the HP Spectre Folio continues to please after its positive first impression…

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