Is it possible to ship a late-model laptop with Windows 8 as a preload (even if it's only an option along with Windows 7) and not include a touchscreen? Given that this HP Ultrabook is aimed mainly at business-class users, the answer appears to be yes.
PC manufacturers typically make up for the lack of a touchscreen these days with some other multitouch device. The EliteBook has a multitouch-enabled touchpad. It's equipped with two sets of buttons, above and below the pad. Swipe with two fingers to scroll; swipe from the sides to bring up the Charms bar and the Modern UI window switcher. The latter swipe gestures need to be done slowly to take effect, but that also makes them harder to trigger accidentally -- a complaint I've had with some other touchpad-driven Windows 8 machines. Tap in the top-left corner of the touchpad to disable it.
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We've seen many striking Ultrabook designs lately, many of them created to complement Windows 8's touch-centric nature. The EliteBook doesn't have anything like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga going on, but it's appealing and well put together. It's near the high end of its size and weight class (3.6 pounds), but sleek (0.75 inch thick) and smartly designed. There's certainly nothing rickety about the brushed-aluminum case or the cover hinge.
Typing on the backlit and recessed keyboard is comfortable, even if its tactile feedback is a bit muted and I kept hitting the nub mouse by mistake. This being a business-class Ultrabook, a smart-card slot, TPM, and fingerprint reader are all standard. HP includes software to quickly enroll the user's fingerprints, which can be used not only to secure Windows but the notebook's boot process as well.
Preloaded software is the bane of most any name-brand PC these days, but HP has managed not to crowd the system too badly. The most obvious add-ons are Evernote (which is actually relevant to business users!), some Intel hardware management tools, and HP's own Support Assistant, which provides quick-reference guides and fast access to system tools like the backup manager. Another HP-provided app, the SoftPaq Download Manager, deploys HP-specific updates to the system. It's clearly meant to be used either by IT admins or by users who know what they're doing.
Another inclusion is the CyberLink suite of media tools (Media Suite, PhotoDirector, PowerDVD). Including PowerDVD doesn't make a great deal of sense, given that the unit has no optical drive, but it works as a general all-purpose media player apart from CDs and DVDs. The other media-authoring tools in the suite are useful, too, especially in conjunction with the unit's built-in video camera or video piped in from another source.
The HP EliteBook Folio 9470M is a sleek, solid business-class machine. You'll miss the immediate convenience of a touchscreen, but the rest of the package more than makes up for it.
This article, "HP EliteBook Folio 9470M review: An ultrasolid Ultrabook," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in computer hardware and mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter. Read more about mobile technology in InfoWorld's Mobile Technology Channel.