Hands-On, Laptop

The Leather-Bound HP Spectre Folio Convertible Lands in Malaysia for RM7,999

Update, 13 June 2019: Surprise surprise, the HP Spectre Folio has just been launched in Malaysia. It retails at RM7,999 for the Intel Core i5-8200Y variant, while the higher-end Core i7-8500Y model goes for RM8,299. The Spectre Folio is exclusively available from Harvey Norman in Cognac Brown.

The original article follows.

We often associate high-end, premium gadgets with equally premium material like metal, glass, and to some extent, even leather. Well, the latter is exactly what HP had in mind with the HP Spectre Folio. Wrapped in genuine leather, the Folio has the appearance of a leather-bound notebook when it’s closed.

But once you’ve opened it, you’ll see the Folio’s very unique-looking design. However, beyond its unique appearance, is there anything else to like about the Folio? Let’s find out.

Design is the main highlight of the Spectre Folio, so let’s talk about it first. According to HP, the Folio’s leather exterior is integrated with the convertible itself. It’s not just a simple casing that you can take off, for better or worse.

That being said, HP did mention that the leather is designed for disassembly, suggesting that it may be possible to replace it in the future. After all, it is leather; it’s bound to wear down eventually, and it’ll be bad design if it’s not replaceable at all.

Nonetheless, the Folio’s leather exterior do feel exquisite and premium. It adds a touch of luxury not many laptops in the market can offer.

Unlike most convertible machines in the market now, the Folio’s 2-in-1 design is quite different. It opens up like a normal laptop, but you can actually unhinge the bottom part of the display and place it right above the trackpad. From there, you can even completely flatten the Folio to use it as a tablet, though do note that this is a pretty heavy machine – it tips the scales at 1.5kg.

It’s quite a clever design, but I do wish the Folio’s display can be moved further back. The hinge only allows the display to be pushed back far enough for a comfortable viewing angle when you’re using it on a desk, but say you’re trying to type a quick email on your lap. The limited angle may prove to be cumbersome.

Powering the Spectre Folio is Intel’s eight generation Core i5-8200Y or Core-i7-8500Y. That’s right, the Folio is running on Intel’s low-power, Y series processors. While they’re not quite as powerful as the chipmaker’s U series chips, it allows the Folio to use a fanless design. Some sacrifices has to be made to give the convertible its unique leather chassis.

Processing power aside, the Folio also comes with a 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS touch display protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (with stylus support), up to 16GB of RAM, and NVMe SSD storage with capacities ranging from 256GB to a whopping 2TB. On top of that, HP will introduce a higher-end model with a 4K display in the near future too.

Speaking of display, the Folio has a pretty good display. It’s pleasant to look at, colours are punchy, viewing angles are great, and it can get quite bright as well. My only gripe with the display is the amount of bezels surrounding it. In a landscape where more and more laptops have very slim bezels, the Folio’s thick bezels don’t look particularly attractive.

Arguably the most important hardware on a laptop are the keyboard and trackpad, and both of these are quite decent on the Spectre Folio. The keyboard doesn’t have particularly great amount of travel, but the tactile keys make for a decent typing experience. The leather palm rest is comfortable to rest on too.

As for the Folio’s glass trackpad, my fingers can glide effortlessly on its smooth surface, and it’s largely accurate too. Even though the trackpad isn’t particularly big, it’s large enough to not feel cramped. Trackpad gestures also work great on this convertible.

The HP Spectre Folio is a unique convertible. Its leather chassis gives it a premium look and feel, and it has a clever – though imperfect – 2-in-1 design. That being said, this is a very costly machine. In the US, it retails from a whopping $1,299. You also have to live with USB-C ports only; the Folio has three of them.

HP is taking a unique approach with the Folio, and it’ll be interesting to see how this approach will benefit the brand in the near future. If you’re keen to get it, don’t hold your breath: HP has no plan to bring in the Folio to the Malaysian market for the time being.