HP Spectre Folio Review; A Laptop Built On Leather Actually Works?

The HP Spectre Folio is a peculiar one, for one reason and one reason only. It’s built out of leather. No, it’s not encased in leather, or is wearing a leather sleeve, but rather the body of the 2-in-1 laptop itself is based in leather itself. Now this might or might not be a good thing, depending on who you ask. But with that being said, let’s get straight into what makes the Spectre Folio a hit or miss.

Design & Aesthetics

Design wise, there’s not much anyone can really say to dismiss the fact that the Spectre Folio is aesthetically very attractive. With the whole body basically being encased in Cognac Brown leather, it makes for not only a unique and premium design language, but a sophisticated one as well. And that’s apparent throughout the entirety of the device. If you were wondering, the leather around the Folio is a chrome-tanned leather, which makes for a relatively durable device. Not entirely as durable as others, but comparably similar I would assume.

It overall really is a looker, and it’ll cause some people to do a double take when they’re checking your laptop out. At first glance, it looks just like a folder, but open it up, and you’re ready to work. The value on looks and style factors alone are convincing enough for me to recommend this to anyone with some cash to spend. But that’s not all we’re judging the Folio on, so too bad.

But on to more practical things. The Folio is pretty darn thin, which we’ll get to in a bit, but because of this, we’re lacking some ports. It only comes with 3 USB-C ports; One for charging, one for connecting an external display, and another for transmitting data. As far as I can tell, they’re interchangeable, but if the device/wire you’re connecting isn’t a USB-C, you’re gonna need an adapter. Good thing they’ve included a USB-A to USB-C adapter, so you’re covered there.

Display And Form Factor

Besides that, the Folio has a 13.3″ diagonal 4K IPS micro-edge WLED-backlit touch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass 4, which is honestly pretty great. Nothing mesmerizing, but nothing to scoff at either. It gets the job done. It’s also a touchscreen which is a plus, and that makes way for another key feature of the Folio; its versatility. The Folio can go from Laptop position, to Media position which is basically a tablet with a stand, and Tablet position, which makes it fold unto itself into a tablet mode. All together, it’s a nice lineup of different positions depending on what you’re doing on the device, but practically, you’re probably going to switch from laptop to tablet position sometimes.

To me personally, it’s too heavy to function on a tablet on its own, and is pretty much why I didn’t switch over as much. But they do include their Digital Pen, which made it easier to do some design work which prompted me to switch over to the tablet mode.

Speaking of it’s weight, it actually only weighs 1.5 kgs and measures in at 12.6 x 9.2 x 0.6-inch Folio, so it’s not to say it’s huge or anything. In fact, it’s pretty much portable enough to carry to an event, or on vacation or when you’re travelling. And measuring at only 0.6-inches thick, makes it pretty damn thin. But I don’t know why, but it just felt heavier than I would’ve liked it to be. But maybe that’s just me.


The Spectre Folio is actually quite the decent performer. It’s not the most specced out at this price range (RM7999 ~ RM9659) but when you consider the design value it brings to the table, you might change your mind. My model of the Folio came with an Intel Core i7-8500Y CPU @ 1.5GHz, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage. It was fast enough, great for browsing and light design work, as well as streaming videos on YouTube and Netflix. I had no complaints whatsoever in that regard. But it also has an integrated graphics card which is an Intel UHD Graphics 615, so best not to run anything too heavy on the laptop. That’s why I said light design work.

However, one thing I did notice is that when I charged the laptop, the area above the keyboard where the speakers are situated ran hot. Like, really hot, to the point of it being beyond uncomfortable. As it is a leather laptop, I wouldn’t be surprised if heat dissipation wasn’t it’s strong suit, but I didn’t think it would’ve reached those levels that I experienced during my time with it.


The one thing I love and hated is the battery and charging the laptop. I’m not sure why, it’s just complicated. The battery for me, actually lasts a long time. It could last on a single charge from 9AM until 5PM with a few percent to spare. 8 hours isn’t bad, but it’s quite short of the 19-21 hours that HP says you can get out of the laptop. Maybe on the lowest battery settings it may be possible, but I highly doubt it. But for the size and sleekness of the laptop, I can’t dissuade you from the Folio. Because honestly, it was good enough for me.

Another thing to take into account when you’re buying a new laptop these days, is how long it take to charge. These small things matter, especially at the RM7999 price point. The faster you charge, the faster you’re on the move, and that’s a main feature of the Folio. They claim that the Folio is capable of 0 – 50% in 30 minutes, which I never really experienced.  I often was tethered to a wire after I depleted the battery, for longer than I’d like. It was disappointing, but overall, not a deal breaker for me considering I’m used to long charge times on laptops. But it is something to note.

Final Thoughts

HP’s Spectre Folio is truly for a niche audience, and when I mean niche, I truly mean it. It’s not that it’s lacking in any features, aesthetically, or in performance, but rather the utter ridiculousness at the pinnacle of luxury laptops; one encased in leather. It’s crazy, but crazy enough to work. Truly for the person who truly cares about aesthetics, and aesthetical value the Folio adds to your outfit. And the fact that it’s a pretty good performer, makes it all the more a better deal.