I remember when ChromeOS and Chromebooks first hit the market. It was the wild west, and several companies were churning cheap Chromebooks left and right. One could make the case that making cheap Chromebooks is still happening. My first was an Acer Chromebook that was absolute garbage. But things have changed, at least in terms of hardware. The new HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook brings premium-level hardware to ChromeOS.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
But don’t think for a second that the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is the first premium Chromebook to be made. It’s not. One of the most expensive and well-made Chromebooks was the Pixel Chromebook from Google. There have been others, but the Pixel is the best comparison. HP is looking to bring that level of hardware elegance combined with ChromeOS and a few extra tweaks to try and give a better ChromeOS experience to users who prefer the ChromeOS experience over Windows or Mac. Let’s jump into the full review of the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook. This entire review was written on the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook.
The Quick Take
For those not willing to read through an entire review, this is my Quick Take.
No matter how hard manufacturers have tried, ChromeOS is still limited. This will not work for power users and users who need specific software not available on ChromeOS this will not work.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is fantastic for those who work and live in the Google ecosystem. It can accomplish all its work within that ecosystem and available and compatible apps.
The bottom line is this. There is a lot to love about the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook if you’re invested in the ChromeOS ecosystem and don’t need any other computer. This is one of the closest devices you will get to a MacBook in terms of hardware, and it is well worth the money if that’s what you want. But if you cannot live with ChromeOS’s limitations, there is no value for you in this.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook has the following features and specifications:
- Chrome OS
- 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1235U processor
- 14″ 16:10 QHD+ (2560×1600) Touchscreen Display up to 1200 nits of brightness
- As light as 3.33 pounds
- 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM
- Intel Iris Xᵉ Graphics
- 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD storage
- RGB backlit keyboard
- 24/7 Pro Live Support included
- Up to 11:30 hours of battery life with fast charge
- Audio by Bang & Olufsen with quad-speaker surround sound and 8MP user-facing camera
What’s In The Box
- HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook
- HP Power Supply
- Documentation and Manuals
When I first started using Chromebooks, they felt and looked like toys. I do not fondly remember my old Acer Chromebook, which lasted less than a year before going to tech heaven. But the mindset surrounding Chromebooks in the early days was that they were throwaway devices.
The point was that you could buy these cheap, give them to the kids, or use them on the go without worrying about losing that much money if they broke. That was probably the wrong direction, as Chromebooks have taken years to overcome the stigma. Today, Chromebooks are still not regarded as well as their PC and Mac counterparts.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook design breaks the mold and shatters misconceptions about design and build quality regarding Chromebooks. Like the PixelBook before, this device is meant to make the user proud to use it. The materials all around this device are beautiful, well-made, and premium.
Starting at the bottom, two long rubber feet give this laptop excellent stability, especially on tabletops and slick surfaces. Along the back edge is a vent for keeping the system cool. The front edge has a small notch for opening the lid, and yes, you can open the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook with one finger. The top has the HP and Chromebook logos.
On the left and right sides are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, for four total. Opening the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook, you’re greeted with the fantastic 14″, QHD+, 1,200 nits display which is touch-enabled and looks impressive.
The keyboard and trackpad are just below, both at a premium level that is shocking for a Chromebook. The typing experience is fantastic, with decent key travel and comfortable keys. The glass trackpad is a proper size and one of the best I’ve used with haptics. The keyboard also has RGB lighting that can be customized through the Personalization Hub.
As for the weight, it is heavier than most Chromebooks, but it’s not uncomfortable to move around. It’s okay and lighter than other PCs or Macs I have used.
Overall, it has been a long time since I’ve used a Chromebook, and returning to using the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is a great way to break the “Chromebooks are cheap” mold. This is a very premium laptop in every way.
The WXQGA IPS 14″ display has 100% sRGB and a brightness of 1,200 nits. While I would have loved to see an OLED display on this already premium-packed laptop, this IPS display is still very nice.
The contrast levels are excellent, not at OLED levels, but still great. Viewing angles are fantastic, and because this is a glossy display, you will get some glare at extreme angles. This display is good enough to do serious photo or video editing, with calibration from something like the DataColor SpyderX Elite.
This panel is also touch-enabled, something I rarely use, but it is here for those who enjoy poking their greasy meat sticks all over their displays. I tested it out, the touchpoints are accurate, and the scrolling is smooth; nothing was laggy or jumpy.
Overall, the display is equal to some of HP’s high-end PCs or Dell’s XPS line. It would have been nice to see an OLED display that would have made entertainment consumption an ever more elevated experience. But the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook display is the best of any Chromebook, period.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook runs ChromeOS. ChromeOS has been the redheaded stepchild in the operating system world. Even Linux distros get more respect than ChromeOS.
The issue with ChromeOS is that it’s had a hell of a time digging itself out of the hole it’s been thrown in. The operating system has never been fully taken seriously as a power user’s OS. Like Apple’s iPad is still not fully embraced as a laptop replacement, Chromebooks have not been adopted as a PC or Mac replacement.
There is still some truth to this. ChromeOS still lacks the ability to use some software that PCs and Macs can, so this is still a no-go for many users. But there is good news for some: ChromeOS has made improvements, and better apps are available.
Before we proceed, it’s essential to understand that Chromebooks generally lock you into the Google ecosystem. There are ways to use other browsers and apps by unlocking some of the system’s Linux features, but we won’t go into all that. We are keeping this simple, as most users will open the box, sign in, and use what is here.
ChromeOS still has issues with Android apps, or a better way to put this is a lot of Android apps are not optimized for ChromeOS. That said, you can force apps to size the display. My preferred email client is not optimized for ChromeOS, and the system warned me it was only a mobile or tablet app. But I could force it to resize to the display, and it worked fine.
All of the Google apps work fine on the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook; no issues there. My biggest issue using ChromeOS has been the lack of a good photo editing program that can work in layers and create layers. My second most significant issue was the lack of a good video editor. These issues are mostly solved using Krita for photo editing and LumaFusion for video editing. They are not perfect and lack some of what DaVinci Resolve and Affinity Photo have, but they work, and this is the first time I can say that on ChromeOS.
HP has also included some software on the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook that is helpful for the average user. The company is aiming this laptop at freelancers who are on the move. Since freelancers generally do not have a tech support team, HP has included a free year of tech support for the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook.
HP’s Pro Live Support gives you access to support agents 24/7 who are available only for this laptop and its ChromeOS. You will need to add the HP Support Assistant Chrome extension to the Chrome browser. This is an excellent value add for remote and freelance workers.
Overall, ChromeOS isn’t for everyone, but the platform has made some progress. Enough progress that I could actually write and edit photos for this entire review on it. That is something I could not do in the past.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook comes in one configuration only. But HP has packed more than enough power into this laptop to run ChromeOS and every other task you can throw at it with ease. I had no issues with light video editing in LumaFusion and light photo editing in Krita.
Web browsing, media consumption, and every other task were seamless. Video calls using Google Meet were fantastic, and that webcam is excellent and comes with HP’s webcam software which gives you some excellent options.
Overall, the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is the most powerful Chromebook currently out there.
I’m not spending much time on this section, and usually, when I say that; it means the section sucks. My general experience with Chromebook speakers has been that they do suck.
This is not the case with the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook speakers. These Bang & Olufsen drivers are among the best on any laptop. These speakers are outstanding and can easily stand with any Mac or high-end PC. The soundstage is excellent for a laptop of this size, let alone a Chromebook.
Overall, these are some of the best speakers on any laptop, period.
The 8MP camera is fantastic and has many options, from blurring backgrounds to ring lights. HP did well making this webcam premium, considering they are marketing this to freelancers using it as a primary device; a good webcam is essential, and this one is great.
Battery life is decent on the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook. It’s not the best, at least in my opinion. But we all use devices differently, and your results may vary. I went about 3.5 hours with screen brightness at 100%, using Chrome, my email app, gallery app, HP assistant, Krita, and YouTube (not all at the same rate), and ended up with 40% battery left.
HP claims up to 11.5 hours of battery with fast charge. I could have gotten more if I had moved the brightness down significantly.
The fast charging makes up for my concerns with battery life. Plugging in for a half hour gets me going quickly, and sometimes you need to take that half-hour break anyway.
Overall, battery life can be improved with different settings and usage habits. It could be better, but it’s not awful.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is expensive; that is 100% true. But it’s not for everyone, and the value will not be there for everyone. You might be better served elsewhere if you’re looking for a media consumption Chromebook and light Google use Chromebook if cost is a factor.
But if you live in the Google ecosystem and the cloud and want a premium experience with tech support, then the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook holds a ton of value for you.
It has been a long time since I have used and reviewed a Chromebook. When I went into this review, I thought I’d find more of the same disappointments I’ve always known Chromebooks to have. And some of that still rings true, but not all of it.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is insanely beautiful and well-built! The display is fantastic, colorful, bright, and something you’d expect from a MacBook or XPS. The Bang & Olufsen speakers are outstanding, even better than some high-end PCs. There are new apps that can deal with some of the work I need in a workstation, such as LumaFusion for video editing and Krita for photo editing.
HP made the Dragpnfly Pro Chromebook with some added goodies that make this a great value, like the customizable backlit RGB keyboard, haptics, a great camera, and 24/7 live support.
I was astonished at what this Chromebook had to offer. It still falls short of a full Windows PC or MacBook, but if you’re invested in the ChromeOS ecosystem, this is the best Chromebook you can buy right now and worth every penny if this is the only device you need.
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HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook
- Fantastic design
- Excellent premium build quality and build
- Loaded tech specs for a Chromebook
- Fantastic touch display
- Brightness level is amazing
- Fantastic webcam and tools for video conferencing
- Solid performer
- The keyboard and trackpad are Mac-level and the RGB is a nice touch
- Battery life is good, as long as you don’t turn brightness all the way up
- Thunderbolt 4 ports only, a few essentials like HDMI and SD card reader would have been nice to see