HP Spectre Folio review: This lightweight leather laptop is different in a very good way

I can't take my hands off of it. It feels that good.

hp spectre folio movie mode
Daniel Masaoka/IDG
At a Glance

I can’t take my hands off the HP Spectre Folio. Lightweight and fully sheathed in leather, it feels great in a way that a metal- or plastic-clad laptop never could. Thanks to its energy-sipping Intel Core Y processor, it generates scant heat, and its battery lasts a very long time.

Of course, there are good reasons why we make computers out of hard materials that hold up well to use and abuse. That’s why I spent several months using the Spectre Folio on trains, buses, and planes, in and out of my bag, and on and off my lap. The miles and hours were enough to prove any laptop.

The verdict? I’d gladly take the HP Spectre Folio anywhere. It’s a thin-and-light laptop made even better with its unique looks and design, and unprecedented comfort.

No beauty comes without sacrifice, though. The Spectre Folio sacrifices some performance to keep its slender chassis cool, though it should be hard to notice if you stick to mainstream applications.  

There's also one big unknown: how the leather will hold up over years. In the latter case, at least I can say that based on my experiences with the Spectre Folio and other high-quality leather products, I think reasonable care will keep it looking great. 

HP Spectre Folio pricing and specs

HP stuffed a surprising amount into the skinny Spectre Folio. The laptop has a starting price of $1,300, and our review unit costs $1,600 from HP.com. As we run through the specs, we’ll note options different from those in our review unit.  

hp spectre folio lid detail Daniel Masaoka/IDG

Yep, it’s all leather from the lid to the base.

Shell: Full-grain leather, in Cognac Brown (our review unit) or Bordeaux Burgundy. 

Display: 13.3-inch Full HD (1920x1080) IPS WLED backlit touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (our review unit). The maximum brightness is a very nice 400 nits. A 4K UHD panel is a $120 upgrade. 

Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615 (integrated).

Memory: Starting at 8GB of LPDDR3-1866 SDRAM (16GB on our review unit).

At a Glance
  • Lightweight and leather-wrapped, the HP Spectre Folio actually feels comfortable, in a way that a metal- or plastic-clad laptop never could. Thanks to its energy-sipping Intel Core Y processor, it performs capably while generating very little heat, and its battery lasts a very long time.

    Pros

    • Leather-wrapped chassis is lightweight, comfortable and durable
    • Innovative display design makes it easy to convert from clamshell to tent to tablet modes
    • Rarely gets too hot to keep on your lap
    • Very long battery life (nearly 13 hours in our tests)

    Cons

    • Leather edges get in the way of side ports
    • CPU performance suffers in the quest for cooler temperatures
Related:
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon