IT folks are just starting to evaluate Windows 8 for use in business, whether they support a 20-person shop or a 20,000-employee enterprise behemoth. The HP Elitebook Folio 9470m ($1,349 direct) is aimed at the corporate shop, where tens or thousands of identical laptops are rolled out to users en masse. The HP Folio 9470m ($1,349 list) is one of the first business laptops we’re seen with Windows 8 installed. It maintains a link to your company’s Windows 7 past with driver and downgrade support in case you don’t think your mainline workers are ready for Windows 8. Good thing, as the Folio 9470m has problems with the touch-optimized Windows 8 operating system, problems that need some ironing out before your users are ready for a non-touch Win 8 system.
Design and Features
Like most ultrabooks, the Folio 9470m is thin (0.75 inches) and comes sans optical drive. With a 14-inch 1,366-by-768-resolution widescreen and 13.5 by 9 inch for its other dimensions, it really follows the business laptop playbook closely. It has a matte and brushed aluminum look, with a standard black plastic bottom. Since some of your business users will never give up their pointing stick for a trackpad (and vice versa), HP includes both pointing devices on the system.
You can turn the trackpad off with a quick double tap to the upper left corner, in case you want to use the pointing stick exclusively. But beware; turning off the trackpad makes Windows 8 even less user friendly, at least the main Windows 8 Start screen (aka, the interface formerly known as “Metro”). You’ll need to remember which “hot corner” brings up screens like the Charms bar, the application switcher, and the application list. Zooming into the screen and scrolling through the tiles felt like it required much more effort using the pointing stick. With the trackpad, you can bring up the charms bar and other functions with single, two, and three finger swipes.
We found that you may have to get used to the setup, since the trackpad is recessed into the keyboard deck by a few millimeters. Bringing up the charms bar took more than a couple of swipes before we found the right technique. The glass trackpad is recessed a bit in part because the system includes physically separate mouse buttons for both the pointing stick and the trackpad. It’s a little easier to bring up Windows 8 interface on systems with single-piece trackpads like the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist and the Acer Aspire S7-391-9886. The Acer S7-391-9886 and Lenovo Twist have another feature that makes them more useful than the Folio 9470m: their touch screens.
While you can navigate the Windows 8 Start screen with the pointing stick or the trackpad, it’s so much easier to navigate on a system with a five- or ten-point touch screen. Just the effort to swipe the news app from one side to another while reading felt like it took two to three times more effort. It’s almost a fatal flaw if you’ve ever used Windows 8 on a touch screen before using it on the Folio 9470m. The backlit chiclet-style keyboard has a decent feel, though the keys are flat and less comfortable compared with the contoured keys on the Lenovo Twist or on the business ultrabook Editors’ Choice, the Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1.
The system comes with three USB 3.0 ports, as well as a DisplayPort, Ethernet, smart card reader, fingerprint reader, Kensington lock port, and a VGA port. Fitting for a business system, the system’s 180GB solid-state drive (SSD) comes with very little pre-loaded software. The system comes with about 140GB free, which means you have lots of room for all your local files like Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and spreadsheets. 180GB isn’t quite enough for a graphics arts user, but you could supplement storage with an external USB 3.0 hard drive.
The system sports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi to connect to either 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless networks. The Folio 9470m comes with a three-year warranty, par for a corporate oriented system like this. The Folio 9470m interfaces with HP Elitebook docking stations, and is full serviceable by your IT staff, from the removable batteries, to the hard drive/SSD, to the system memory, and the screen.
The Folio 9470m’s Intel Core i5-3427U processor, 4GB of memory, and SSD combine to give the system respectable performance on our benchmark tests. The system’s PCMark 7 score of 4,699 points was average for an SSD-equipped ultrabook, which is significantly faster than a hard drive-based system like the Lenovo Twist. That said, the Folio 9470m and most of its ultrabook brethren lagged behind the mainstream ultrabook Editors’ Choice, the Toshiba Portege Z935-P300, which approached 5,500 points on the PCMark test. The Folio 9470m put in a good showing at the multimedia benchmarks, including Handbrake video encoding and our Photoshop CS6 test.
On the more important battery rundown test, the Folio 9470m returned a good five hours and thirty-six minute battery life. This was ahead of the four-hour Lenovo Twist, but an hour behind the Acer Iconia W700-6465, a slate tablet that leads the pack with a 6:34 battery life. The Portege Z935 potentially has a longer battery life, as it got a 7:34 score on the MobileMark 2007 test (potentially, because MobileMark has a different workload than our new battery rundown test).
The HP Elitebook Folio 9470m has a good base of hardware, particularly if your business is planning to continue to use Windows 7 for the next year or so while your development team evaluates Windows 8. However, this is not the system to buy if you’re jumping into Windows 8 with both feet. The awkward controls while in Windows 8′s main screen means that your mainline users will gripe quite a bit when presented with the new interface, leading to decreased adoption. Better to grab one of the systems with a touch interface like the Acer Iconia W700-6465 or the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist if you’re going with Windows 8. Otherwise, more traditional systems like the Toshiba Portege Z935 and the Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 make more sense if you’re sticking to Windows 7.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the HP Elitebook Folio 9470m
Compare the HP Elitebook Folio 9470m with several other laptops side by side.
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|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8 Professional|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Screen Size||14 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||180 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc