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HP Spectre Folio Laptop review: An impressive and innovative laptop





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HP Spectre Folio   Lifestyle image of media position 5HP

  • If you are looking to get ahead in today’s increasingly connected world, you must be available 24/7.
  • To accommodate the demands of workers, the latest laptops look professional and make staying connected effortless.
  • I liked the HP Spectre Folio laptop because it’s 4G LTE enabled, so I don’t have to rely on public Wi-Fi, and it has a fine leather cover that gives it a professional look.
  • For all of its high-end looks and features, including the ability to fold it into tablet position, the HP Spectre Folio 13 is surprisingly affordable, starting at $1,200 on HP’s website.

By some estimates, 50% of the United States workforce will be working remotely outside of the office environment by 2020. To be effective, today’s professionals must be able to get work done wherever they may be. This includes having a laptop that is conducive to productivity and has a reliable Internet connection.

This vision of the future was at the forefront of the minds of HP’s developers as they designed the Spectre Folio 13. Recently, HP sent me a laptop to test and review. Here are my experiences with it.

My first experience with the HP Spectre Folio Laptop

In November, HP hosted a reviewer workshop on the Spectre Folio. Presenter Kevin Wentzel, the Technical Marketing Manager for the company’s Consumer PCs division, said the “disruptive” leather design was targeted at millennials who want to balance professionalism with staying connected. HP made the laptop specifically for office work and the occasional content creation. It’s not ideal for video and photo editing or intense gaming.

HP also aimed to make every feature perfect. Based on its internal 2017 Pain Points Study, HP found that what shoppers look for most in a laptop, in order, are speed/performance, battery life, Wi-Fi connectivity, pre-loaded software, and storage capacity. So, HP aimed to address these needs with the Spectre Folio.

The HP Spectre Folio has a 13.3 inch full high-definition IPS micro-edge WLED backlit touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The aspect ratio is a standard 16:9 with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.

Here are a few of the other specifications:

  • Windows 10
  • Intel UHD Graphics 615
  • 256 GB solid state drive (SSD) — and no hard drive (HDD) 
  • 8 GB SDRAM
  • 8th generation Intel Core i7-8500Y dual-core processor
  • 2 Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports (can transfer data up to 40 Gb/s) and an additional USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port
  • USB-C to USB 3.0 adapter
  • Headphone/microphone port
  • SIM card port

If I missed a spec you are looking for, check out the HP product page.

The laptop’s pleasant leather smell struck me immediately. The Folio felt pleasant in my hands and on my lap. HP tried a variety of high-quality leathers before choosing this 100% genuine full-grain, chrome-tanned leather. HP based its leather choice on durability, appearance, and comfort.

HP Spectre Folio   lifestyle image of closed positionHP

How the HP Spectre Folio Laptop performed

The HP Spectre Folio 13 can be used in three positions. There’s the classic laptop setup, but you can also push the top of the screen back and fold it down into tablet mode. Or, you can move the bottom of the screen forward to cover the keyboard and just allow access to the touchpad. This last option is best for viewing videos and photos. What I liked most about the tablet mode is that it’s hard to accidentally press the touchpad or keyboard and disrupt whatever you’re doing.

The laptop comes loaded with a bunch of programs I’m not interested in: Netflix, Xbox, Candy Crush Saga, and so on. However, I didn’t find that it was particularly pushy in getting me to use these apps, and I didn’t get a ton of emails to take advantage of special offers and other nonsense as I have with other HP systems I’ve tested.

The Spectre Folio features a large battery that is located under the keyboard and on either side of the trackpad. The advertised battery life is up to 21 hours. To really test it out, I played music videos loudly and set a timer to see how long the battery would last. It took about 10 hours before this battery-intensive activity used all the juice. After two hours of charging, the battery was back full-charged and ready for more.

The feature I enjoyed the most was the gigabit-class 4G LTE cellular connectivity. With LTE, you can go through your cellular service provider and use your data to get internet access in your coverage area. So far, the laptop only works with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

I tried it out with AT&T coverage, and it was nice to have excellent internet service while riding in a car or in a public place. I’m not proud to admit that I may have spent all day at a Chinese food buffet doing work and keeping the cooks busy. Not all models are 4G LTE enabled so make sure you look for this feature if you’re interested in it.

I liked how easily accessible all of the ports are. With USB 2.0 and 3.0, it seems like you have to try inserting your device at least three times before you get it the right side up. This is not a problem with USB-C. All of the USB-C slots are effortless to use because you can plug it in any which way. On the other hand, the SIM card slot is not easily accessible. You need to fold the screen back to get to it, but this isn’t something you will likely need to access regularly.

The audio was designed in partnership with the Danish audio company Bang & Olufsen. There are quad speakers located just above the keyboard on the laptop’s base. The sound is not amazing, but it does get somewhat loud. I registered 90 decibels from a foot away.

When it comes to quality, the speakers don’t achieve the fullness you would expect from a larger speaker. The bass is weak, the mids are muddy, and the highs aren’t clear and sound far away. And, when you are in tablet mode, the speakers are covered so the sound is mildly muffled.

I tested out the HP Chat Support to see if they could fix the only minor problem I had: The test period of the AT&T service had run out, and I no longer had cellular connectivity. Within a minute of loading the chat, I had Ranjeetha S helping me. She took over control of my laptop to work on the wild goose chase I put her on.

After 25 minutes and exhausting every option she could think of, she told me to contact my service provider: The correct answer. I was impressed by how quickly I had access to support and how diligent Ranjeetha was in trying to fix the problem.

Lastly, I tested the HP Spectre Folio 13 using the UL PCMark 10 test, which is considered the industry standard for PC performance for Windows 10 machines. Overall, it scored 2,674, which is better than most laptops. It scored quite high for productivity (4,631) and essentials (5,549), which includes web browsing, video conferencing, and app start-up. To learn more about this benchmark test, visit the PCMark website.

At first, I found the Folio charged slowly. Due to how my desk is set up, I was using the standard USB-C port on the left side of the unit to charge. After a little research, I discovered that the Thunderbolt ports are on the right, and the front right port is best for charging. So, learn from my mistake and make sure you use the right USB-C port for fast charging.

HP Spectre Folio   lifestyle image of media position 3HP

No Verizon LTE support and a few more quibbles

Verizon Wireless is the most popular cellular provider in the US, and it’s also my provider. I’m pretty happy with Verizon’s service, especially compared to my experiences with AT&T and Sprint, so I’m bummed that I can’t use Verizon’s service with the Spectre Folio. I’m hoping HP works out a deal in the near future.

The laptop comes with a stylus and USB-C to USB 3.0 adapter. The adapter is nice since I’m old fashioned and keep my files on a USB 2.0 drive. This worked fine, except the adapter doesn’t look particularly attractive dangling off the side of the laptop. The stylus appeared to work well, though I’m not a big fan of touchscreens and mainly use the unit as a classic laptop. My only gripe about the stylus is that it’s easy to accidentally break off the clip, which happened as I tried to stuff the Folio into a tote bag.

The bottom line

Overall, the HP Spectre Folio 13 is the best laptop I’ve ever used. It’s an awesome machine that can handle writing, research, and streaming media. The cellular connectivity is a must for anyone who regularly works on the road or in public places with spotty, unsecured coverage. The leather feels good, looks nice, and has a grippy texture that will keep you from fumbling. If you are in the market for a good workhorse laptop, you will be hard-pressed to find an option better than the Spectre Folio at this price point. I highly recommend it.

Shop the Spectre Folio 13 Laptop on

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The 3 Best Canadian Tech Stocks I Would Buy With $3,000 for 2021





The majority of the Canadian tech stocks went through the roof in 2020 and delivered outsized returns. However, tech stocks witnessed sharp selling in the past 10 days, reflecting valuation concerns and expected normalization in demand. 

As these high-growth tech stocks shed some of their gains, I believe it’s time to accumulate them at current price levels to outperform the broader markets by a significant margin in 2021. Let’s dive into three tech stocks that have witnessed a pullback and are looking attractive bets. 

Lightspeed POS

Lightspeed POS (TSX:LSPD)(NYSE:LSPD) stock witnessed strong selling and is down about 33% in the last 10 days. I believe the selloff in Lightspeed presents an excellent opportunity for investors to invest in a high-growth and fundamentally strong company. 

Lightspeed witnessed an acceleration in demand for its digital products and services amid the pandemic. However, with the easing of lockdown measures and economic reopening, the demand for its products and services could normalize. Further, it faces tough year-over-year comparisons. 

Despite the normalization in demand, I believe the ongoing shift toward the omnichannel payment platform could continue to drive Lightspeed’s revenues and customer base. Besides, its accretive acquisitions, growing scale, and geographic expansion are likely to accelerate its growth and support the uptrend in its stock. Lightspeed stock is also expected to benefit from its growing average revenue per user, innovation, and up-selling initiatives.     


Like Lightspeed, Shopify (TSX:SHOP)(NYSE:SHOP) stock has also witnessed increased selling and has corrected by about 22% in the past 10 days. Notably, during the most recent quarter, Shopify said that it expects the vaccination and reopening of the economy to drive some of the consumer spending back to offline retail and services. Further, Shopify expects the pace of shift toward the e-commerce platform to return to the normal levels in 2021, which accelerated in 2020.

Despite the normalization in the pace of growth, a strong secular shift towards online commerce could continue to bring ample growth opportunities for Shopify, and the recent correction in its stock can be seen as a good buying opportunity. 

Shopify’s initiatives to ramp up its fulfillment network, international expansion and growing adoption of its payment platform are likely to drive strong growth in revenues and GMVs. Moreover, its strong new sales and marketing channels bode well for future growth. I remain upbeat on Shopify’s growth prospects and expect the company to continue to multiply investors’ wealth with each passing year. 


Docebo (TSX:DCBO)(NASDAQ:DCBO) stock is down about 21% in the last 10 days despite sustained momentum in its base business. The enterprise learning platform provider’s key performance metrics remain strong, implying that investors should capitalize on its low stock price and start accumulating its stock at the current levels. 

Docebo’s annual recurring revenue or ARR (a measure of future revenues) continues to grow at a brisk pace. Its ARR is expected to mark 55-57% growth in Q4. Meanwhile, its top line could increase by 48-52% during the same period. The company’s average contract value is growing at a healthy rate and is likely to increase by 22-24% during Q4. 

With the continued expansion of its customer base, geographical expansion, innovation, and opportunistic acquisitions, Docebo could deliver strong returns in 2021 and beyond.

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Manitoba to invest $6.5 million in new systems





WINNIPEG – The province of Manitoba is investing $6.5 million over three years to replace technical systems used in healthcare facilities, including replacing current voice dictation and transcription services with more modern systems and upgrading the Provincial Health Contact Centre (PHCC)’s triage, call-recording and telephone systems, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson (pictured) announced.

“Our government is investing in the proper maintenance of information and communications technology to ensure digital health information can be safely stored and shared as needed,” said Stefanson. “These systems will ensure healthcare facilities can continue to provide high-quality services and allow Manitobans to get faster access to healthcare resources and information.”

Dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services are used by healthcare providers to write reports. There are currently approximately 80 healthcare sites across Manitoba using some combination of dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services. Many of these systems are nearing the end of their usable lifespans.

“Across our health system, radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians use voice-dictation services to help create diagnostic reports when reading imaging studies like ultrasound, nuclear medicine studies, X-rays, angiography, MRI and CT scans,” said Dr. Marco Essig, provincial specialty lead, diagnostic imaging, Shared Health. “Enhanced dictation and voice-recognition services will enable us to work more efficiently and provide healthcare providers with quicker access to these reports that support the diagnoses and treatment of Manitobans every day.”

The project will replace telephone-based dictation and transcription with voice-recognition functions, upgrade voice-recognition services for diagnostic imaging and enhance voice-recognition tools for mobile devices.

“Investing in more modern voice-transcription services will help our health-care workers do the administrative part of their jobs more quickly and effectively so they can get back to the most important part of their work – providing top-level healthcare and protecting Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “The transition to the new system will be made seamlessly so that services disruptions, which can lead to patient care safety risks, will not occur.”

The new systems will be compatible with other existing systems, will decrease turnaround times to improve patient care and will be standardized across the province to reduce ongoing costs and allow regional facilities to share resources as needed, Stefanson added.

The PHCC is a one-stop shop for incoming and outgoing citizen contact and supports programs such as Health Links–Info Santé, TeleCARE TeleSOINS and After-Hours Physician Access, as well as after-hours support services to public health, medical officers of health, home care and Manitoba Families.

The current vendor that supplies communications support to the PHCC is no longer providing service, making it an opportune time to invest in an upgraded system that will provide better service to Manitobans, the minister said, adding the project will provide the required systems and network infrastructure to continue providing essential services now and for the near future.

“The PHCC makes more than 650,000 customer service calls to Manitobans per year to a broad spectrum of clients with varied health issues. This reduces the need for people to visit a physician, urgent care or emergency departments,” said Stefanson. “The upgrade will also allow Manitobans in many communities to continue accessing the support they need from their home or local health centre, reducing the need for unnecessary travel.”

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Telus and UHN deliver services to the marginalized





Telus’s Health for Good program has launched the latest of its specially equipped vans to provide medical services to the homeless and underserved, this time to the population of Toronto’s west end. The project relies not only on the hardware and software – the vans and technology – but on the care delivered by trained and socially sensitive medical professionals.

For the Toronto project, those professionals are working at the University Health Network’s Social Medicine program and the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. The city’s Parkdale community, in the west end, has a high concentration of homeless and marginalized people.

First launched in 2014, Telus’s Health for Good program has delivered mobile clinics to 13 Canadian cities, from Victoria to Halifax. Originally designed to deliver primary care, the program pivoted to meet the needs of patients in the COVID-19 pandemic, said Nimtaz Kanji, Calgary-based director of Telus Social Purpose Programs.

Angela Robertson of the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (CHC) asserted that marginalized people are particularly susceptible to the spread of COVID-19, as they don’t have access to the basic precautions that prevent its spread.

The clinic is located near a Pizza Pizza franchise; homeless people shelter under its overhang on the weekends, she said. Some have encampments under nearby bridges.

“The public health guidelines and requirements call for things that individuals who are homeless don’t have,” Robertson said. “If the response calls for isolation, that suggests people have places to isolate in.”

And in the shelter system, pre-COVID, the environment was very congregate, with many people in the same physical space, said Robertson. Some homeless persons, in order to keep themselves safe, have created encampments, and the city has opened up some hotel rooms across the city to create spaces for physical distancing.

Even proper hand-washing and hygiene becomes a challenge for the homeless.

“COVID calls for individuals to practice constant hand-washing. Oftentimes, individuals who are homeless use public washroom facilities that may be in restaurants or coffee shops, and many of those spaces are now closed. So there are limitations to accessing those facilities. It’s not like they’re in a community where there are public hand-washing facilities for people who are homeless.”

The mobile health clinic allows the CHC to take “pop-up testing” into communities where there is high positivity and where additional COVID testing is needed. The CHC can take testing into congregate sites and congregate housing to provide more testing, Robertson said.

“The other piece that we will use the van to do is, when the vaccine supply gets back online, and when the health system gets to doing community vaccinations … we hope that we can be part of that effort.”

COVID has contributed to a spike in cases of Toronto’s other pandemic: opioid overdoses. Some community members are reluctant to seek care because of the stigma attached to substance abuse; and COVID has a one-two punch for users.

The first rule of substance abuse is, don’t use alone; always be with someone who can respond to a potential overdose, ideally someone who can administer Nalaxone to reverse the effects of the overdose, Robertson said. “It’s substance abuse 101,” and the need for social distancing makes this impossible.

Secondly, COVID has affected the supply chain of street drugs. As a result, they’re being mixed increasingly with “toxic” impurities like Fentanyl that can be deadly.

The van itself is a Mercedes Sprinter, modified by architectural firm éKM architecture et aménagement and builder Zone Technologie, both based in Montréal. According to Car and Driver magazine, the Sprinter line – with 21 cargo models and 10 passenger versions – is “considered by many to be the king of cargo and passenger vans.”

Kanji said the platform was chosen for its reputation for reliability and robustness.

While the configuration is customized for each mobile clinic, it generally consists of two sections: A practitioner’s workstation and a more spacious and private examination room, so patients can receive treatment with privacy and dignity, Kanji said. The Parkdale clinic is 92 square feet.

“While the layouts vary across regions, they typically include an examination table and health practitioners’ workstation, including equipment necessary to provide primary healthcare,” the Telus vice-president of provider solutions wrote in an e-mail interview. The Parkdale Queen West mobile clinic is designed for primary medical services, including wound care, mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, harm reduction services, mental healthcare and counseling.

The clinic equipped with an electronic medical record (EMR) from TELUS Health and TELUS LTE Wi-Fi network technology.

Practitioners will be able to collect and store patient data, examine a patient’s results over time, and provide better continuity of care to those marginalized citizens who often would have had undocumented medical histories.

The EMR system is Telus Health’s PS Suite (formerly Practice Solutions). It is an easy-to-use, customizable solution for general and specialty practices that captures, organizes, and displays patient information in a user-friendly way. The solution allows for the electronic management of patient charts and scheduling, receipt of labs and hospital reports directly into the EMR, and personalization of workflows with customizable templates, toolbars, and encounter assistants.

But like others tested for COVID, it’s a 24-48 hour wait for results. Pop-up or not, how does the mobile team get results to patients who have no fixed address?

The CHC set up a centre for testing in a tent at the Waterfront Community Centre. Swabs are sent to the lab. “We are responsible for connecting back with community members and their results,” Robertson said.

“This is the value of having Parkdale Queen West being in front of the testing, because many of the community members who are homeless we know through our other services, and there is some trust in folks either coming to us to make arrangements to collect their results, or we know where they are.”

This is a key element of the program, said Kanji – leveraging community trust. In Vancouver downtown east side, for example, where there is a high concentration of marginalized members of the indigenous community, nurse practitioners are accompanied by native elders in a partnership with the Kilala Lelum Health Centre.

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