HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook: Impressive, Flawed, Expensive
HP may make another range named “Envy,” but it’s the Elite Dragonfly that truly invokes the green-eyed monster. It’s a device with a hefty price tag that’s made for business users but has features to attract anyone looking for a thin, light, high-end productivity laptop.
At CES 2023, HP revealed that the Dragonfly name would finally be bestowed upon consumer models, with a new Dragonfly Pro and Dragonfly Pro Chromebook. But before that happens later this year, there’s the matter of HP’s ChromeOS-flavored addition to the current business range.
This is one of the best Chromebooks you can buy—brace for a screeching handbrake of a caveat—if you can stomach the hefty price. You’ll be getting a stylish, lightweight, and delightful productivity laptop, but with a few flaws. It’s an achievement in hardware that falls foul of perfection. Here’s why.
Writing, browsing, and planning are a joy on the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. There are few devices on the market that welcome you into productivity quite like this one—not the new Dell XPS 13 (6/10, WIRED Recommends), nor HP’s luxe consumer Spectre x360 14, which features in our best laptops guide.
The Intel Core i5-1245U vPro, 8-GB RAM, and 256-GB SSD configuration had no trouble munching through 20+ tabs. The keyboard plays a big part, with a solid amount of travel and a pleasingly light crunch of feedback. Appropriately, the review you’re reading now is being written on said laptop, and getting words on the page as speedily as this is blissful.
Unfortunately, two points let the productivity package down. The haptic trackpad simulates an unsatisfying “click,” though it is accurate and well-sized. And under more intensive productivity workloads, the battery life only manages around 6 hours. Your mileage may vary, as it did throughout my testing, sometimes managing closer to 8 hours on less hectic days.
The 3:2 display boosts productivity further, with the squarer display adding more screen real estate for your essays, web pages, spreadsheets, and more. The image quality is a tad underwhelming, especially for a $1,000-plus machine. No real complaints, but you’ll find better panels on devices cheaper than this, with OLED becoming more common on sub-$1,000 laptops. Anti-glare is an optional add-on and is sorely needed, as it’s quite the reflective display.
So what of the business focus of the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook? On top of the Intel vPro processor, which enables easier and deeper device management, as well as an added security layer, there are a few more touted inclusions. There’s a physical privacy shutter for the webcam, which you’ll find on some non-business-focused laptops, and the option to add an HP Sure View display. My review model didn’t feature this tech, but I’ve tried it before and it’s always worked as advertised—a toggle-able feature that prevents onlookers to your left and right from seeing what’s on your screen. A neat trick. The webcam itself provides a detailed image, and the microphone delivers decent audio. Neither is jaw-dropping, but you’ll get no complaints from colleagues.
This Chromebook is one of the most expensive you can buy, so you’re well within your rights to expect a taste of the good life. Fortunately, the design lives up to this. It’s gloriously thin and remarkably lightweight. The joy of working on this day to day, moving this light machine deftly from home to desk and wherever else you go along the way, is palpable. The magnesium and aluminum hybrid isn’t quite as flashy as a MacBook or Dell XPS 13 Plus (7/10, WIRED Recommends), but it still soars above plastic and looks luxurious.