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HP takes aim at Apple's MacBook Air with new $900 Folio13 Ultrabook

The latest entry in the thin-and-light Ultrabook lineup is HP's new Folio13, a 13-inch laptop with a 128GB solid-state drive that undercuts Apple's MacBook Air with a starting price of $900.

HP's first "business Ultrabook" is the latest entry in the reference design spearheaded by chipmaker Intel. Ultrabooks aim to compete with Apple's highly successful MacBook Air lineup, which now represents 28 percent of the company's notebook shipments.

Available starting Dec. 7 for $899.99, the HP Folio13 boasts up to 9 hours of battery life and comes with a 128GB solid-state drive. Its design is less than 18 millimeters thin and the Folio13 weighs 3.3 pounds.

It also features a Corei5-2467M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 1,366-by-768-pixel display, optical TPM circuitry, and HP CoolSense. Ports include USB 2.0 and 3.0, Ethernet, HDMI, and a memory card reader.

"This category of product breaks new ground and will be a likely choice for businesses to offer to employees looking for a more consumer-centric experience,” said Crawford Del Prete, executive vice president of worldwide research products, and chief research officer, at IDC. "We expect Ultrabooks will re-ignite interest in the small form factor PC category, and by 2015 expect 95 million Ultrabooks will be shipping worldwide annually."

Reacting to the unveiling of HP's new Ultrabook on Wednesday, analyst Brian Marshall of ISI Group offered a head-to-head comparison between it and Apple's MacBook Air. He noted that while the Folio13 is aimed at business users, Apple's MacBook Air lineup targets both consumers and the enterprise.

At $900, the HP Folio13 is about 30 percent cheaper than the $1,300 price tag on the low-end 13.3-inch MacBook Air model. Apple also offers an 11.6-inch MacBook Air starting at $999, or $100 more than HP's business Ultrabook.

White said he applauds HP's competitive pricing for the new Folio13, and he believes the new ultraportable is a "solid entry" for Intel's struggling Ultrabook category. However, he believes that the MacBook Air will retain its market share lead in the face of this latest threat.


Last week it was revealed that other Ultrabook makers, Acer and Asus, slashed their orders for the thin-and-light notebooks by 40 percent. Sales of the Ultrabook line in the first month were said to have been "unsatisfactory" for both companies.

One problem for the first Ultrabooks was that they came in at a higher price range than typical low-cost PCs, and some even had a higher starting price than Apple's MacBook Air. But HP's Folio13 aims to address that with an aggressive $900 entry price.

The Folio13 arrives at a tumultuous time for HP, as the company recently ousted its CEO of less than a year after a series of highly publicized missteps. Among those was a somewhat confusing decision to spin off HP's PC division, which leads the industry in terms of units sold, though the company quickly reversed its decision in October.