HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review: The best of ChromeOS, but not worth the price

Google has been making high-end Chromebooks for nearly a decade now, courting again to the $1,300 Chromebook Pixel in 2013. On the time, many individuals noticed it as a stupendous however unusual machine. Within the years that adopted, each Google and its {hardware} companions have made premium Chromebooks increasingly more commonplace. Although, a still-unconfirmed report earlier this 12 months suggests Google is giving up on making laptop computer {hardware}, not less than for now. The corporate hasn’t mentioned something of the kind but, however the actuality is that Google hasn’t made a brand new Chromebook for the reason that Pixelbook Go in late 2019.

In fact, that hasn’t stopped different producers from making Chromebooks with beautiful screens, nice industrial design and highly effective {hardware}. However HP’s Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, launched earlier this 12 months, could be the nicest I’ve utilized in a very long time. It additionally has a jaw-dropping value level, beginning at nicely over $1,000. Very similar to the unique Chromebook Pixel, HP’s newest is a pleasure to make use of that may be very onerous to suggest due to that value.


Earlier than we discuss concerning the bummer that’s the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook’s value, let’s go over the great things. The Dragonfly is analogous in stature to a MacBook Air, weighing in at about 2.8 kilos and measuring solely .65 inches thick. Mixed with a reasonably spacious 13.5-inch touchscreen show with a 3:2 facet ratio, the Dragonfly is comfy to work on and simple to journey with.

Design-wise, it’s a spartan affair, with a darkish grey end and just a few silver accents to be discovered. However on condition that HP is primarily concentrating on this laptop at enterprise customers, it is sensible that they went with a basic look right here. There’s an honest choice of ports, regardless of the Dragonfly’s relatively slim profile: it has two USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB-A connection, a headphone jack, HDMI and a microSD slot. That’s lots higher than you’ll get on a typical ultraportable.

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Display screen and keyboard

There’s a handful of issues that make the Dragonfly actually stand out. For starters, it has a superb show, with a 3:2 facet ratio that gives much more vertical viewing house than your normal 16:9 display screen. The configuration I’m testing has a 2,256 x 1,504 decision, good for about 200 pixels per inch. Certain, there are extra pixel-dense shows on the market, however this one seems to be gorgeous, with sharp textual content and pictures and principally no seen pixels. It’s the nicest display screen on a Chromebook I’ve seen in a very long time. The one minor knock is its unremarkable 60Hz refresh charge, however that shouldn’t be a significant difficulty for most individuals. Nonetheless, HP spared principally no expense on all the pieces else, so it might have been good to have.

Regardless of the refresh charge, the Dragonfly’s show is nice past simply the facet ratio. It’s brilliant and has good distinction with out issues being too over-exaggerated. It’s additionally relatively reflective, which makes it not very best if there’s a light-weight shining on the show, however the display screen is brilliant sufficient that it ought to be usable in all however the harshest of sunshine.

The keyboard and trackpad are additionally wonderful. The keys are agency, however not too agency, and have loads of journey for a comparatively skinny laptop computer. The trackpad, in the meantime, is massive and responsive. Nothing fairly matches as much as the trackpad on a MacBook for me, however this one feels fairly shut. HP says it’s a haptic trackpad, with custom-made vibrations for some particular actions like pinning home windows in break up display screen or switching between digital desks, however I can’t say I observed a lot of something there.

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Good specs (for a Chromebook)

Lastly, the Dragonfly principally has cutting-edge spec choices; the mannequin I examined has a Twelfth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, built-in LTE, 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. LTE isn’t precisely cutting-edge anymore, and 8GB of RAM is a bit stingy on a pc this dear. However other than these quibbles, that is loads of horsepower for principally something you wish to do in ChromeOS; I by no means skilled any stutters when switching apps or enjoying again music and video. Regardless of the high-resolution display screen and highly effective processor, battery life is stable if not spectacular. I obtained between six and eight hours of regular utilization, which concerned a number of Chrome tabs, Spotify, Todoist, Slack, Google Hold, Trello and the occasional Android app right here and there. It managed to play again a film for 8 hours and 50 minutes in our battery drain check. If battery is your foremost concern, the mannequin with a Core i3 processor or the lower-resolution display screen will probably final even longer.

It additionally does a high quality job operating the handful of Android apps I examined it with. Within the final 12 months or so, you’ve been capable of run downloaded apps in pill, cellphone or resizable home windows, and for probably the most half I used to be capable of get Todoist, Spotify and Lightroom all working nicely in resizable home windows. Even Instagram lastly works correctly, though now that the web site now means that you can create posts, it’s not likely needed any extra. Placing that apart, efficiency throughout principally all of the Android apps and video games I attempted was stable. However given what number of apps are within the Play Retailer, there’s nonetheless a great likelihood of operating throughout some that don’t work nicely.

Whereas Chromebooks aren’t identified for gaming, the Dragonfly simply dealt with some cloud-based play through NVIDIA’s GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming – not a shock given the highly effective (for a Chromebook, not less than) {hardware}. At this level, ChromeOS has fairly stable sport controller help, and it clearly works with exterior keyboards and mice. So offered the titles you need can be found, that is in all probability one of the best ways to play video games on a Chromebook at this level. That mentioned, this {hardware} ought to greater than meet the lower for putting in Steam, as soon as Google and Valve begin rolling that out past its present restricted alpha section.

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook

The catch

The issue that retains me from recommending the Dragonfly is simple to clarify. The most cost effective mannequin of this laptop computer prices an eye-popping $1,150. And that’s with an i3 processor and solely 128GB of storage. As common, HP has a dizzying array of various configurations, although I don’t suppose they’re truly promoting the mannequin I’ve by their web site proper now. However there’s an choice with an i5 processor that prices greater than $1,500. That’s loopy cash for a Chromebook, irrespective of how good it’s.

For a comparability, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 714 has basically the identical processor, storage and RAM because the Dragonfly for less than $730. The display screen and construct high quality aren’t fairly as good, however we’re speaking about a pc that’s basically simply as succesful however prices half of what HP is providing. For the price of the Dragonfly, you might additionally choose up a particularly succesful Home windows laptop computer or MacBook Air. As a lot as I like utilizing Chrome OS, it’s almost unimaginable to suggest anybody spend that type of money on a Chromebook.

To be truthful to HP, the corporate isn’t positioning this as a broad client machine. It falls underneath their enterprise class, and I may think about some companies closely invested in Google’s ecosystem shopping for these for executives. However, there’s no denying that, at this value level, ChromeOS is a compromise in comparison with Home windows or macOS.

On this manner, HP’s Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is lots like Google’s Chromebook Pixel: It’s the most effective Chromebook you should purchase, and it exhibits how good the expertise of utilizing ChromeOS will be. However, it’s not so a lot better than the numerous different moderately priced choices on the market for anybody to noticeably contemplate except they love ChromeOS and have cash to burn.

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