MacBook Air, HP EliteBook Folio 1020 Vie in Lightweight Notebook Race

MacBook Air, HP EliteBook Folio 1020 Vie in Lightweight Notebook Race
The Battle for 'Thinnest' and 'Lightest' Is On
Pick Your Operating System
HP Is Keeping the Folio's Price Close to the Vest for Now
An Interesting Display Size Choice for HP
Who Really Wins on the Power Front?
The Display Battle Continues
A Surprisingly Similar Design
Consider the Security Implications
Built-In Apps Are Everywhere
Who Wins Out for the Enterprise?
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MacBook Air, HP EliteBook Folio 1020 Vie in Lightweight Notebook Race

By Don Reisinger

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The Battle for 'Thinnest' and 'Lightest' Is On

So, which computer really is the "thinnest" and "lightest" on the market? The MacBook Air is between 0.11 and 0.68 inches in height, depending on the point at which it's being measured. The 11-inch model weighs 2.38 pounds, compared with 2.96 pounds for the 13-inch version. The Folio 1020 is a bit different. The device has a height of 0.62 inches and starts at 2.2 pounds, depending on the version selected and the configuration. One important note about HP's claim of being the "thinnest" and "lightest" option on the market: that was specifically for the business-class market.

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Pick Your Operating System

There are myriad operating system options available to customers who want the HP EliteBook Folio 1020. In addition to Windows 8.1 Pro, customers can choose Windows 7 Professional, or even Ubuntu or FreeDOS, making it one of the more appealing products on the market from an operating system perspective. Apple, meanwhile, provides no such choice, forcing customers to use its desktop operating system OS X.

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HP Is Keeping the Folio's Price Close to the Vest for Now

The MacBook Air starts at $899 for the low-end 11-inch version and can go up to $1,199 for the highest-end 13-inch model before customization. HP has kept pricing on its Folio close to the vest for now, saying that it won't reveal that information until it gets closer to launch.

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An Interesting Display Size Choice for HP

While the MacBook Air comes in somewhat standard display sizes for a lightweight notebook—11 inches and 13 inches—HP has decided to take a different tack. The device has a 12.5-inch display, making it just smaller than the 13-inch MacBook Air and notably bigger than the 11-inch Apple notebook. Perhaps, HP wanted to split the difference in its competition with Apple.

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Who Really Wins on the Power Front?

Until actual benchmarking is done, it's hard to say which computer will perform best in handling resource-intensive tasks, but neither computer comes with specifications to turn up one's nose at. The HP EliteBook Folio 1020 has the customer's choice of the Intel Core M processor, 8GB of memory and an Intel HD Graphics 5300 GPU. The MacBook Air runs on Intel's Core i5 platform but can be boosted to the Core i7 for those who want to pay extra. The MacBook Air comes standard with 4GB of memory along with the Intel HD Graphics 5000.

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The Display Battle Continues

In addition to display size, customers should think about the quality of the screen. In that respect, HP's Folio 1020 wins the battle. The device can come in different configurations, one featuring a non-touch 1,080P display or a touch-enabled quad-HD screen featuring a 2,560-by-1,440-pixel resolution. Apple's MacBook Air is behind the curve on this one, launching with top native resolution of 1,366-by-768 for the 11-inch version and 1,440-by-900 on the 13-inch model.

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A Surprisingly Similar Design

Looking at the design of the MacBook Air and EliteBook Folio 1020, one would be excused for mixing them up. They both come with a similar design that has a simple logo on the back panel of a gray-colored clamshell casing. Both devices have black keyboards; nice, big touch-pads; and tapered designs. Overall, it looks like they have very similar designs.

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Consider the Security Implications

When it comes to the enterprise, security matters greatly. So, on one hand, we have a device in the MacBook Air that's running an operating system, OS X, that's generally viewed favorably by security folks. On the other, customers can get either Linux or the latest Windows distributions, which have also been secure. In addition to that, HP is offering upgrades for self-encrypting storage drives, a fingerprint reader, pre-boot security features and more. On the security front, HP has done a solid job of providing value to corporate customers.

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Built-In Apps Are Everywhere

No surprise here, but both the EliteBook Folio 1020 and the MacBook Air come with all kinds of applications when users break them out of the box. The HP option has everything from a "Buy Office" application to PageLift, ePrint and Connection Manager for Windows 7. The MacBook Air comes standard with Apple's App Store, iTunes, and Maps, among many other applications. Neither device is totally free from the unwanted "bloatware" that PC makers persist in installing on their machines.

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Who Wins Out for the Enterprise?

Just a few years ago, answering the question on which product would ultimately appeal most to enterprise customers would have been easy: HP's Folio 1020. After all, the corporate world was committed to Windows, and HP in those days was doing a solid job of getting products into the channel. But with BYOD sweeping across the globe, Apple's notebook Mac sales performing well and corporate customers embracing Apple products more than ever, the choice for business buyers isn't so easy any longer. While the Folio 1020 has a boatload of security features and runs Windows, Apple's MacBook Air is a wildly popular product that has been infiltrating the enterprise. Deciding which notebook model is best for business customers might come down to specific corporate needs. So buyers should do their homework before making a choice.

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