HP's new business laptop is stylish enough even for regular folks

"Enterprise notebook" doesn't always have to mean "ugly."

For the most part, HP showed up to this year's CES with -- you guessed it -- consumer-tech products. In addition, though, it also snuck in a few business class devices. Wait, wait: Where are you guys going? Before you run for the hills, know that we chose to feature the EliteBook Folio, the company's new 12.5-inch enterprise laptop, because the design actually looks pretty sick. HP squeezed a 4K, nearly bezel-less screen into the notebook's slim frame, translating to a sharp 352 pixels per inch. The colors should also be vibrant: The display recognizes 95 percent of Adobe's RGB gamut, as opposed to 72 percent or so on more mainstream systems. At the same time, the machined-aluminum chassis is notably svelte, at 12.4 mm (0.49 inches) thick, and weighs less than 1 kg (2.2 pounds). It's especially obvious when you push the screen flat at an 180-degree angle.

The problem, as far as I can tell, is that HP is only offering the Folio with Intel's watered-down Core M processors. That helped the company achieve such a thin and light design, to be sure, but the performance won't quite match full-fledged Core processors, and there's not much of a battery life advantage either. Speaking of the sort, HP says the battery can last up to 10 hours on a charge, but that's presumably without the higher-res 4K screen option. If I had to guess, I'd wager that the battery life won't be very good: Toshiba's new 12-inch Radius 12 only lasted five hours on a charge with a 4K screen. Meanwhile HP's own Spectre x2 delivered mediocre runtime with an Intel Core CPU, and that was with a lower-res 1080p screen, to boot -- who knows how poorly it would have fared with a 352-ppi display?

If you generally appreciate the Folio's design but want faster performance and can live with a bigger design and slightly lower-res screen, there's the 14-inch EliteBook 1040 G3, which has more or less the same aluminum chassis but runs full Core processors and tops out at either full HD or QHD resolution. HP also announced the more mid-range EliteBook 800 series in 12.5-, 14- and 15.6-inch sizes, but the design is less remarkable than the Folio pictured here.

The 14-inch EliteBook 1040 G3 will arrive first, landing this month for $1,149 and up. The mid-range 800 series will go on sale then too, starting at $949. The 12.5-inch Folio will follow in March, priced from $999.

Chris Velazco contributed to this report.