Business travelers willing to give Windows 8 a spin have a noteworthy option in the HP Folio Elitebook Folio 9470m. Attractively slim and lightweight, this 14-inch Ultrabook delivers an assortment of business-oriented features, including a fingerprint scanner, a smart-card slot, and a solid-state drive that boosts performance on any task involving retrieval of data from storage. The battery life, while not outstanding, should get you through a cross-country flight.
The SSD, however, holds only 180GB, which is stingy by current standards. On top of that, the standard configuration's 4GB of RAM is tight considering that the machine's integrated graphics will commandeer some of that memory. And with a list price of $1349, the Elitebook Folio 9470m is by no means cheap.
Skinny, light, and handsome
The Elitebook Folio 9470m looks the part of a road warrior's faithful companion. Encased in a silvery magnesium alloy with a soft-touch finish, it measures only about 0.75 inch thick and weighs less than 3.75 pounds (without accessories), making it no great hardship to carry in a backpack or briefcase.
Flip open the lid, and you see a backlit island Chiclet-style keyboard with black keys set into a platen the same color as the case. HP provides all sorts of navigation options; my personal preference is the responsive, rubbery gray joystick set into the keyboard, but the laptop also has a multitouch-enabled touchpad with two sets of left and right mouse buttons (one set on the top edge of the touchpad and the other at the bottom). The keys are large and well spaced, but typing feels a bit mushy, and the keys lack sculptured contours to keep your fingers from slipping.
The power button resides above the keyboard on the left, and buttons for toggling airplane mode and audio sit at the upper right. Small LEDs on the left front edge show the status of wireless connections, power, the battery, and the hard drive (parked or accessible).
HP provides two security hardware features specifically designed to authenticate business users: a smart-card slot for companies that use such cards to identify authorized users, and a fingerprint scanner set into the right side of the platen below the keyboard. You can use the latter with HP-provided software to set up fingerprint IDs as login credentials. I've had problems setting up fingerprint authentication in the past--typically I've had to repeat initial scans multiple times--but on this laptop enrollment was easy, and I had no difficulty using my fingerprint to log in afterward.
On the left side you'll find a headset jack, a power-share USB 3.0 port (you can use it to charge peripherals even when the laptop is powered down), and a security lock slot. On the right edge, from front to back, are two more USB 3.0 ports, a DisplayPort connection, an SD/MultiMediaCard reader, a VGA port (handy for connecting to an analog video projector), a slot for an HP docking connector, and an ethernet port. A fourth USB port and HDMI support would be welcome, but HP has covered all the other business-productivity bases. The Elitebook Folio 9470m also supports dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) 802.11n Wi-Fi, a big plus over competitors that offer only 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.
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