HP EliteBook Folio 1040: Hands-on preview

HP has just announced a new EliteBook Folio 1040 G1 business Ultrabook, and we managed to grab a quick hands-on with the laptop.

The EliteBook Folio 1040 is HP's mainstream to high-end business Ultrabook, made to replace the older Intel Core i5 and i7 powered laptops you might have in your company's stable. It's made for users who are complaining that their older laptops are starting to detrimentally affect their workload because it takes too long to boot, launch apps, or get their work done in the time allotted.

The EliteBook Folio 1040 looks like an elite business laptop, with its matte silver exterior. At 15.9mm thick, it's one of HP's thinnest business laptops. The EliteBook Folio 1040 felt fine in the hand – you can easily carry the roughly 1.5kg laptop around to meetings, whether those meetings are in the conference room down the hall or on a plane flying at 35,000 feet.

The system has a 14in 1,600 x 900 or 1,920 x 1,080 screen, which is fine for business use and is much larger than the 1,366 x 768 display found on lesser Ultrabooks. The black keys on the chiclet style keyboard are easy to type on, and the spill-resistant layer and drainage channels under the keyboard should keep water bottle spills from ruining your project deadlines.

The system has a pressure-sensitive multi-touch clickpad, which goes under the name of the ForcePad. It tracked quickly and easily in the Windows 7 Professional environment. We recommend Windows 7 for businesses, since the touch environment in Windows 8 is still in a shaking-out phase.

HP is equipping the EliteBook Folio 1040 primarily with SSDs, from 128-256GB capacity, which helps perceived speeds for day-to-day tasks, reboots, and app launches. HP BIOS protection presents a safety net for IT pros who need to roll out hundreds if not thousands of BIOS updates in an evening. Two USB 3.0 ports will keep users happy, while a DisplayPort should please multi-monitor addicts, too.

One thing of note is that the system comes with a microSD card reader instead of the more common full-sized SD card slot. This is to benefit the smartphone and tablet owner who uses a microSD card in their mobile device, and it has the added benefit of sitting flush in the slot so you don't have to remove the card to put the system in your bag, as may be the case with SD cards.

The EliteBook Folio 1040 is milspec rated for durability and usability in harsh environments; hopefully HP will let us test its rugged abilities in the future. Security features like a SmartCard reader, biometric fingerprint reader, and HP's Trust Circles standard help keep your data safe.

The EliteBook Folio 1040 is a thin, light, and powerful Ultrabook for mainstream and demanding business users. It’s out now in the US starting at $1,299 (£790), and will hopefully be available over here soon.