HP chases MacBook Air with Folio13 Ultrabook

Hewlett-Packard introduced its first business-focused Ultrabook laptop today as it chases after Apple’s vaunted MacBook Air.

The new HP Folio13 is only 18 millimeters thick, weighs just 3.3 pounds, and has up to 9 hours of battery life. It brings new meaning to the description “thin and light.” Apple pioneered the category in January 2008 with its first MacBook Air, and now Intel wants to enable a whole raft of such machines across the whole industry, based on low-power microprocessors.

“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, an analyst at IDC.┬áHe said that he expects Ultrabooks to re-ignite interest in laptops and that by 2015, more than 95 million Ultrabooks will be shipping annually.

The Folio13 has a 13.3-inch HD BrightView display. It also has a number of ports, including Ethernet and universal serial bus ports — in contrast to Apple’s machines — so you don’t have to carry converter dongles.

The Folio13 has a backlit keyboard and a solid state drive (flash memory) with 128 gigabytes of storage. It can wake up quickly with the tap of a button. It will have an embedded security chip and HP’s CoolSense technology, which powers up or powers down the machine as needed. The HP Folio will be available Dec. 7 starting at $899.