HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 Notebook PC Review: Sleek and Secure

Last fall I attended IFA, and one of the biggest announcements to come out of the show was the introduction of Intel’s newest Core M Processor. This year there are quite a few laptops that take advantage of Core M, and the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 is one of them.

16-Gear Diary Reviews the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1.36

At approximately 12″ wide x 8.3″ deep  x 0.6″ thick and weighing about 2.5 pounds, the EliteBook Folio 1020 is slightly larger and a bit heavier than the new 12″ Apple MacBook. Comparisons to the new MacBook are worth making, because these two devices actually have quite a few things in common.

The 1020 G1 has a CNC Aluminum and Magnesium alloy clad body with rounded edges. Its body feels sturdy and rugged while still maintaining a sophisticated appearance; this isn’t some clunky plastic laptop. The HP EliteBook has no moving parts, and it is designed to “pass MIL-STD 810G durability tests for drop, shock, vibration and more.”

MIL-STD testing is not intended to demonstrate fitness for U.S. Department of Defense contract requirements or for military use. Test results are not a guarantee of future performance under these test conditions. The HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 passed MIL-STD 810G testing for High Temperature, Low Temperature, Temperature Shock, Altitude, Humidity, Dust, Drop, Random Vibration, and Shock.

The MacBook does not have this type of protection.17-Gear Diary Reviews the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1.40-001

HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 Specifications

Operating System – Windows 8.1 Pro 64
Processor Family – Intel® Core™ M processor
Processor – Intel® Core™ M-5Y71 with Intel HD Graphics 5300 (1.2 GHz, up to 2.9 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 4 MB cache, 2 cores)
Processor Technology – Intel® Core™ M with vPro™ technology
Chipset – Chipset is integrated with processor
Memory – 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (1 x 8 GB)
Internal Drive – 512 GB M.2 SSD
Graphics – Intel® HD Graphics 5300
Ports – 2 USB 3.0 charging; 1 HDMI; 1 docking connector; 1 AC power; 1 headphone/microphone combo
Expansion Slots – 1 microSD
Integrated Camera – 720p HD webcam
Wireless – Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2×2) WiFi and Bluetooth® 4.0 Combo
Power Supply – 45 W Smart AC adapter
Battery – HP Long Life 4-cell, 36 WHr Li-ion polymer
Energy Efficiency – ENERGY STAR® certified configurations available
Dimensions – 12.2 x 8.27 x 0.62
Weight – Starting at 2.68 lb
Warranty – 3-year limited warranty (optional Care Packs available, sold separately), 3-year limited warranty on HP Long Life Battery (available only with the 3-year limited platform warranty)
Security Management – TPM 1.2/2.0 (Infineon, soldered down); Fingerprint reader; Full Volume Encryption; Preboot Authentication (Password)

Unlike the Apple MacBook, which has only one USB-C port, the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 packs quite a few ways to connect into its body. On the right side you’ll find the power port, the docking connector, a USB 3.0 port, and the headphone/microphone combo jack.

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On the left side are the cable lock port, an HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, and a microSD port. Now that microSD cards are readily available in 128GB and 200GB sizes, adding extra storage to your laptop has never been easier.

14-Gear Diary Reviews the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1.04

The front cover has a slight lip that makes flipping the screen up with one’s thumb easily done.

04-Gear Diary Reviews the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1.35

The bottom of the laptop has a fingerprint resistant (but not finger oil resistant) black rubber coated surface. There are four rubber feet (two circular and two oblong) to keep the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 from sliding on tabletops,

06-Gear Diary Reviews the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1.03

The screen has a wider bezel than I would like; it is slightly over 0.5″ wide on the top and sides, and it is about an inch thick on the bottom. The new MacBooks have a slimmer bezel that measures about 0.25″ on the bottom, a little under 0.5″ on the sides, and about 0.5″ on the top. I suppose I was spoiled by the display on the 13″ Dell XPS, but I’d really like to see all laptops moving to a slimmer bezel design.

The 720p front webcam is located in the top of the bezel, and while that isn’t anything to write home about, it does a good enough job for Skype and other video conference calls.

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The power button is on the left, just under the screen, and a speaker grill runs the length of the HP’s hinge.

12-Gear Diary Reviews the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1.22

The HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 includes a biometric fingerprint scanner, and I’ve fallen in love with the ease with which I can use it to unlock the laptop; the MacBook does not have this type security.

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The EliteBook’s keyboard is full-size, and while the Glass ForcePad is smaller than the MacBooks’, it does support “2-way scroll with legend, taps and gestures enabled by default, two-finger scrolling, and two finger zoom (pinch).”

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If you have ever spilled something on your keyboard, then you will appreciate this feature: the EliteBook’s keyboard is spill-resistant; it even has a drain. And no, the MacBook doesn’t have that.

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The keyboard is backlit; I don’t think I would even want to own a laptop that didn’t have that feature.

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The MacBook has a 12″ diagonal LED-backlit display with IPS technology; it is a 2304-by-1440 resolution display. The EliteBook Folio has a 12.5″ diagonal QHD UWVA ultra slim LED-backlit touch screen with a 2560 x 1440 display.

Both the MacBook and the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 have the Intel Core M; the MacBook’s is a 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache. The EliteBook has an Intel Core M-5Y71 with Intel HD Graphics 5300 (1.2 GHz, up to 2.9 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 4 MB cache, 2 cores). While I noticed a few lags on the HP, I suspect that Windows 10 will take better advantage of the Core M processor.

Battery life was not bad; I got about 6 hours of my typical use which includes surfing with about 20 tabs open, watching a few YouTube videos, listening to music in the background, and typing in WordPress.

The EliteBook Folio 1020 is marketed as a device for executives and mobile professionals, and it has enough power and security features to manage well in that capacity. But there is another demographic that would also benefit from owning one: students. Think about it: fingerprint security, a durable drop-proof design that includes a water-resistant keyboard — the 1020 G1 almost begs to be owned by a college student.

The HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 starts at $1249 (non-touchscreen); system as tested is $1649+. You can read more about the 1020 G1 here or buy one here.

Source: Manufacturer provided long-term review sample

What I Like: Sleek yet durable design built to pass MIL-STD 810G durability tests for drop, shock, vibration and more; new Intel M processor; brilliant HD touchscreen; full-size, water-resistant, backlit keyboard; great corporate device that would also do well for students

What Needs Improvement: A slimmer bezel would be nice; the touchpad is a little smaller than I’d like; occasional lags running Windows 8.1

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.