I’m always excited to review Chromebooks like the new $999 HP Dragonfly Pro. These are devices aimed at an audience of ChromeOS enthusiasts – people who use Parallels and develop and maybe even play with Linux, people who are willing to pay the highest dollar for the best performance and highest quality hardware.
Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook, Lenovo’s ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook, and HP’s Elite Dragonfly Chromebook were all incredibly exciting devices to test. They had beautiful chassis, great screens, and strong performance that don’t abound in the Chromebook space, and they had prestigious, well-respected branding behind them. But its battery life didn’t live up to its high price tag.
The Dragonfly Pro is no exception. And while I’m using it, I just ask myself: when? When are we going to get more Chromebooks like the Flip CX5—nice, sleek, well-designed ChromeOS devices that can last a whole day unplugged? please someone I’m so tired.
The good is on the outside
If I were to only rate the case, the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook would be a hit. It has a lot of great benefits.
For example, there are four Thunderbolt 4 ports. That’s a good choice. I was able to connect pretty much any monitor and accessory I needed. However, there is no headphone jack. I think there should still be a headphone jack. People still use wired headphones.
The device also comes with an 8-megapixel camera — reportedly the first 8-megapixel front-facing camera ever seen on a Chromebook. It looks good. I asked a co-worker for his opinion on a Zoom call and he replied, “It looks like a webcam.” Still, you know, neat. Speaking of video calls, the speakers sound quite good, with surround quality on par with a decent external speaker. I would like to use it as a multimedia device.
Oh, and there’s an RGB keyboard that can automatically sync to your wallpaper (or you can set it to whatever color you prefer). I actually couldn’t get this to work on the device I received, and I’m still awaiting feedback from HP on possible fixes, so I’ll have to update this review once that’s resolved. If you want flashy colors but don’t want a gaming laptop, your day has come.
The highlight for me is probably the screen. It’s the brightest screen I’ve ever seen on a Chromebook. HP claims it hits 1,200 nits, and cranking it all the way up certainly caused significant pain in my eyes. The resolution of 2560 x 1600 (16:10) also provides a nice viewing experience. And the panel supports adaptive lighting based on your surroundings. (I didn’t really notice, but maybe that’s the point.) Again, this is a movie-watching dream and would certainly be my Chromebook of choice for working outdoors.
Funnily enough, this Chromebook (which costs $999 for the Core i5-1235U, 16GB RAM, and 256GB storage in my review unit) actually has a brighter and higher-resolution screen, a high-tech webcam, a jazzier keyboard, and a better port selection than the Windows version of the Dragonfly Pro, which starts at several hundred dollars more. It looks like a much better deal on paper – until the battery dies.
The problems lie within
I have no complaints about the 1235U’s performance. It did everything I needed. I’ve generally worked with three to four apps open and about a dozen Chrome tabs. I continue to encounter glitches with ChromeOS here and there — for example, the Spotify and Messenger Android apps froze everywhere, updated very slowly, wouldn’t close, and wouldn’t resize — but I suppose that if you If you’re considering buying a Chromebook, you’ve decided that you’re comfortable with these limitations.
The only time I heard fan noise was when trying to stream a Spotify playlist exceeding the above load while running an external display. The keyboard was often warm, and the center keys occasionally strayed in the “uncomfortable” line, but nothing caught fire.
This Chromebook has a brighter, higher-resolution screen, a high-tech webcam, and a better port selection than the Windows version of the Dragonfly Pro
But the biggest issue I had was with the battery life. Two and a half hour. That’s how long this device got me charging on average and running the workload detailed above at medium brightness. I certainly got longer on some attempts, particularly those that were easier on the Android apps, but I’m pretty confident that if this were my personal device I’d need to charge it two, maybe three times a day.
Different people’s workloads may produce different battery life results, but I’d like to say two things:
- I consistently get longer lifespans than most reviewers I know.
- This was all done with the keyboard backlight off.
Now I know that battery life isn’t everyone’s priority. I know some people don’t care. But if you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll know that I take a strong, principled stance on this subject. I said that in 2020 when I reviewed the OLED Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, and I’ll say it again here: Outside of gaming and workstations, battery life of less than five hours on a $1,000 device is unacceptable. I don’t care how fancy the webcam and speakers are or how many colors the keys can produce. Battery life is an aspect of quality of life for many people in a way few other features are.
I’m not saying not to sell a device that doesn’t last half a day. But it may not cost that much. is $999 MacBook Area.
I wanted to love this device so badly and I think it’s something special. It offers a versatile combination of features that you won’t find in any other Chromebook on the market. The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook was good; it’s just as funky, but cheaper. Unfortunately, HP didn’t put a large enough tank in this case to power the Core i5 in combination with a bright, high-resolution screen.
I love using Chromebooks like this. But their battery life is often a disappointment when compared to much cheaper devices. I hope HP, Samsung, Lenovo and other manufacturers vying to fill the premium slot left by the Pixelbook can make improvements here. Because these are thin, light and beautiful machines. You are not destined to live on a desk.
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