March 3, 2024

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I’ve been using a foldable laptop for a month, and I’m ready to go back to a laptop

I’ve been using a foldable laptop for a month, and I’m ready to go back to a laptop

Zoom in / Reflective screens and wrinkles aren’t the only concerns with foldable computers.

Sharon Harding

Specs at a glance: HP Specter Foldable 17-cs0097nr
a screen 17-inch OLED 1920 x 2560 touch screen
OS Windows 11 Home
CPU Intel Core i7-1250U
ram 16GB LPDDR5-5200
storage 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
networks Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4
Size (folded) 10.91 x 7.53 x 0.84 inches
Weight (with keyboard) 3.58 lbs
battery 94.3 watts
a guarantee 1 year
Price (MSRP) $5000
last Includes HP MPP2.0 rechargeable pen, Bluetooth keyboard, and HP Envy USB-C hub

Although foldable smartphones are available five yearsDevices are still trying to justify themselves. After using a foldable laptop as my primary computer for about four weeks, I’m not sure it’s ready for prime time.

I leave my time with HP’s first foldable laptop with a sense of anticipation for the future of laptops, which I believe will benefit from a resurgence of creative ideas that cater to the unique ways people use their computers. But I seriously wonder whether the benefits of having a 17-inch display in a 12-inch laptop chassis are worth the trade-offs inherent in today’s foldable PCs.

Early entrants into the foldable laptop world have the opportunity to define space, while consumers can decide whether or not that’s their thing. The HP Foldable is the most enhanced option ever, and weeks of use have shown me a lot about what I want and don’t want to see when the dust settles.

(Ars Technica may receive compensation for sales from links in this post through affiliate programs.)

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Ultimately, the question I have regarding foldable laptops is: “Why this instead of a clamshell or 2-in-1 laptop?”

Pricing risks

Like it or not, laptop makers are trying to build a market for PCs with foldable OLED displays. Asus released its first foldable PC in 2022. Lenovo second The foldable PC is available for purchase, LG announced a foldable laptop for South Korea, and now we have the HP Specter Foldable 17. The Windows 11 operating system, with Snap layouts that work intuitively with unique, multi-screen settings, helps make these products worthwhile .

As of this writing (and upon first release), HP’s foldable devices are expensive $5000. Foldable PCs are modern and flashy enough to automatically command a higher price than similarly specced laptops in traditional form factors, but $5,000 isn’t even normal for a foldable laptop. Asus’ Zenbook 17 Fold OLED debuts at $3,500, and Lenovo’s 16-inch ThinkPad $2500.

HP would certainly love it if some C-suite executives and highly-talented tech enthusiasts snagged the Specter Fold, but the device seems less interested in pushing units and more interested in proving what a foldable PC can be.

This article will take a deeper look at what HP did successfully with its premium foldable device, where it missed the mark, and how the Specter Fold could impact the future of foldable laptops.

A 17-inch laptop in a 12-inch chassis

For people who rely on their laptop as their primary computing device or for multitasking, a larger screen in a smaller space can be attractive. But finding a comfortable 17-inch laptop is tough, especially since many laptops in this size class feature a discrete GPU. Foldable laptops promise new opportunities for laptop users who dream of ultimate portability without sacrificing screen space.

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The backbone of the Specter Fold.
Zoom in / The backbone of the Specter Fold.

Sharon Harding

Folding monitors make the 17-inch form factor more portable than ever. The Specter Fold measures 10.91 x 7.53 x 0.84 inches folded and weighs 3.58 pounds with the detachable keyboard (2.99 pounds without the keyboard). HP 17 inch Laptop envy (with integrated graphics) It measures 15.68 x 10.20 x 0.77 inches and weighs 5.49 pounds. LG Gram 17 The shell (also with integrated graphics) measures 14.91 x 10.19 x 0.74 inches and weighs 2.9 pounds. Foldability means you can get something that is easy to carry e.g Dell XPS 13— which happens to be wider (11.63 inches) and deeper (7.86 inches), with a similar weight (2.59 pounds) to an HP laptop — but with up to 26.9 percent more screen real estate.