HP Spectre Folio review: Get your hands on this luxury leather laptop – CNET
The problem with laptops in general is that even the high-end premium ones all tend to look and feel the same after a while. It’s clear when a laptop is trying to be a MacBook Pro or an XPS 13. In a world of copycat laptops, almost all of which seem to want to be just like something else, the new leather-covered HP Spectre Folio at the very least offers a different approach to design.
No, it’s not Corinthian leather, but it’s still pretty nice. And I’d be the first to admit I’m having fun using it, despite a few design and usability frustrations.
The leather cover is not just bolted on top of a standard laptop body. Instead, a magnesium frame is paired with a leather outer shell that covers just about everything except for the keyboard and screen. HP says that cuts down on weight and thickness, although this still feels hefty for a 13-inch laptop, at 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg).
We rarely see them now, but this isn’t the first leather-shelled laptop I’ve tested. About 10 years ago, it was briefly in vogue, like this Asus U6S I reviewed back in 2008. But this example makes the leather more a part of the overall design, rather than just gluing it onto the back of a standard laptop body.
It’s called the Folio because, when closed, it looks like a leather folio. So much so, that when I took it for a test drive to the new coffee shop on the corner, I just tucked it under my arm and went, no bag.
Flipping the script
That part of the design is certainly clever, but other parts feel a bit too clever. The hybrid hinge, which folds the 13-inch screen into different modes, is complicated, with the entire screen flipping out from the middle of the rear panel.
The screen can swoop down in front of the keyboard, creating a kind of kiosk. That’s great for video playback, but it only hits one angle, and it may not a particularly useful one unless you’re slightly above the laptop, looking down.