In and Around the HP EliteBook Folio 9470m

If you've kept up with my reviews of HP's EliteBook line you're not going to find any surprises here with the Folio 9470m. The current styling has been working out fairly well for HP and still feels like it stands head and shoulders above what Dell is doing with their notebooks. Outside of the XPS line I feel like Dell's aesthetics on virtually all of their lines, consumer and enterprise alike, have gone almost completely off the rails. The current generation Inspirons look like Speak-and-Spells, while Precision notebooks look like cheap knock-offs of ThinkPads from ten years ago. Placed in that company, the EliteBook line looks positively futuristic.

With all that said, though, the current design motif of HP's EliteBooks is beginning to wear out its welcome. The machined aluminum lid and body is coupled with black plastic on the keyboard and display bezel. The bottom of the body is comprised of what feels like black carbon fiber, though it could just as well be well-treated plastic. Either way, the machine as a whole feels very sturdy, but I do feel like it's time to move on.

I continue to be pleased with how HP has been handling the backlit keyboard and especially the smooth glass surface of the touchpad; HP's keyboard layout is traditional, comfortable, and easy to use. Key depth is good, flex is minimal. There's a trackpoint in the center of the keyboard, traditional for enterprise notebooks, and the touchpad is large and roomy. Ironically, the recessed touchpad was more desirable in the Windows 7 era; with Windows 8, edge gestures are harder to perform. Truthfully, though, I'm kind of done with chiclet keyboards. They work fine for the most part, but I'd like to see at least enterprise systems go back to traditional keyboards.

HP really takes care of the enterprise customer with the 9470m, though, and they do that in four ways: continuing to employ SmartCard readers, offering a side-mounting docking bay (the notebook is too thin to use the bottom-mounting ones, so HP is transitioning to these), offering a bottom-mounting slice battery, and making the ultrabook totally user serviceable (complete with replaceable battery).

Opening up the 9470m is a bit of a chore as you have to unscrew and remove the panels in a specific order, but you can see that overall it's a pretty smart and efficient layout. Everything you'd be able to replace in a traditional notebook, short of the CPU, can be replaced in the 9470m without too much hassle. Honestly this is one of those things I wish I'd see a little more frequently in consumer notebooks; only enthusiast-class units are really this user friendly anymore.

I also had a chance to try out the slice battery and dock. The dock feels just a touch loose, but it only blocks the VGA and ethernet ports on the notebook (which it replaces), and in exchange brings a tremendous amount of flexibility, including four USB 3.0 ports and an additional DisplayPort. I also like how the bottom of the dock allows you to mount it to the wall if you're so inclined.

The slice battery, on the other hand, can be a lot more fiddly. Once it's locked in, it's locked in, but getting the notches to line up and securely tilt in was abnormally frustrating. I was able to, and I suspect with practice it wouldn't be an issue, but the difficulty is nonetheless worth mentioning. The 60Wh slice battery does add at least a pound of heft to the 9470m; this was already a pretty light notebook so that's not a huge deal, but it's very noticeable.

Introducing the HP EliteBook Folio 9470m System Performance
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  • Voldenuit - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Of course, things being what they are, HP only includes a 1366x768 TN panel display in the basic model of the 9470m


    I stopped reading right there. Can we put sentences like these in the first line or title of all future mobile reviews?
    Reply
  • speculatrix - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - link

    +1
    Shame that anandtech spent so much time reviewing this. I never got beyond the screen spec.. in fact I skipped as much of the article as possible to get to screen spec first.
    Reply
  • Mumrik - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - link

    Yup. I noticed the trackpoint and got interested. The I saw the resolution and just jumped, and skimmed, the conclusion. Reply
  • speculatrix - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - link

    +1
    Now that you can fly replace a desktop computer with a laptop/notebook computer and not compromise on performance, storage, memory or GPU, the only real differentiator is screen quality and build quality.

    Whenever I see a laptop review here the first thing I look for its the screen resolution and type. This means that this HP will never be considered for my next laptop replacement due in 4 months.
    Reply
  • Stephen Owen - Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - link

    This is a beautiful laptop with every other feature you would want. To scimp so badly on the literally feature which integrates the user with the computer (The flipping screen!!) is penny-pinching shortsightedness as bad as I've ever seen.

    This thing looks wonderful and exudes desirability. Until you turn it on. Ten seconds with the screen and you know it was hamstrung by someone's red ink.
    Reply
  • frostyfiredude - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    1300$ for a 1366x768 TN with 159:1 contrast ratio. That's embarrassing. Does HP no long have standards? 199$ netbooks had better displays. Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Didnt Intel specify that for a Notebook to be labelled as an Ultrabook, it had to have 1080P display ? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    I wish! Maybe in the Haswell (3rd Gen Ultrabook) we can get that? Doubtful, though -- and really, I'm not sure we'd even see it in the generation after that. Honestly, until Windows can handle DPI scaling perfectly, I don't see it happening. Windows 8 skirts the issue by doing well on the new Windows 8 UI and Apps, but not on desktop apps. Reply
  • jabber - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Time to just send those poor screen machines straight back Jarred. Reply
  • James5mith - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    No, Intel's new requirement is that Ultrabooks have touchscreens. Nothing about resolution sadly. Also, as a side rant: Why can we get 1080p panels on 13" laptops, and 15" laptops, but 14" laptops only come with 1600x900 as the max resolution? Reply

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