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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  • juampavalverde - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    The thing is: a 1300 usd ultrabook with that screen? go home hp. People, please, refuse to buy this, refuse to review it, sent this company back to the design board, this cant posible, c'mon, a thinkpad t60 from something like 8 years ago had a 1400x1050 display on 14" and this "premium enterprise laptop" just hd and 1600x900 as an option... goddamit Reply
  • meacupla - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    It's also kinda big and heavy to be a proper "ultra"book.

    At first, I thought the photo was badly done, but I guess that's how crappy the screen really is on this thing.

    Did HP throw in the towel? They seem to not care that the competition, like asus, dell, MS offering some pretty damn good ultrabooks and convertibles for $900~1300?
    Reply
  • StrangerGuy - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    $1300 for a crappy 768p TN and a measly 1 year warranty.

    And Intel wonders why their darling isn't selling. Besides do people even want to pay premium prices for premium PCs to begin with? The ASP of ~$400 suggests not.
    Reply
  • Silma - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    PC manufacturers cry themselves to sleep over low demand and tight margins and market shares lost to tablet but after years of crisis they are still incapable of assembling a decent PC, still thinking that choosing super bad parts such as panels of outdated TN technology with ultra low resolution crappy colors and brightness is just the right thing to put in an overpriced "enterprise" super premium priced notebook.

    No Wonder customers are loosing faith.
    Reply
  • StrangerGuy - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    I wouldn't put all the blame on the OEMs, the whole industry is to blame for its own undoing. They thought they were innovating with oh-so-many Core whatever SKUs when in reality they are only selling Internet and Excel appliances that people only bought because there was no alternative.

    Then smartphones and tablets happened.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Your typical enterprise notebook is docked and using external displays 95% of the time; while still annoying when unlocked this is less of a problem than with a similar consumer model.

    On the price front, the docking port itself probably has at least $100 of soak the businessmen surcharge.
    Reply
  • cknobman - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    This laptop is a f_cking joke and disgrace. And Intel wonders why people are not jumping on the "ultrabook" bandwagon.

    Only thing ultra about this laptop is ultra"sh!tty".
    Reply
  • Stephen Owen - Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - link

    I disagree. Put a 1080p (or higher) IPS display on this thing and it would be a dream.

    Well, it IS exceptionally loud. I've got one next to my mammoth Latitude e6510. I literally can't hear my typing over the scream of its turbines. I think the laptop is about to begin hovering, in fact.
    Reply
  • bhima - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    Agreed. I paid under $1000 for basically the same spec'd Samsung Series 9 (smaller hard drive, only 128gb) and it has a fantastic 1600x900 screen that is quite bright and the light is well distributed with good viewing angles plus its thinner than a razor's edge. Reply
  • tomrocksalot - Friday, February 21, 2014 - link

    Ah yes I was in the same situation... and I bought the 9470m... second hand admittedly and upgraded it.
    My HP has the following benefits over a series 9 (which I was otherwise going to buy)
    8GB ram, 256 SSD, 1600x900 display, 1TB hdd, loads of ports and other features the series 9 does not have. Screen is larger at 14",( is it a pro is it a con???)
    If I bought a series 9 I would be lugging around an external HDD and dongles which kills the whole size difference IMHO.
    Reply

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