Chromebook and HP Dragonfly Pro laptop want to attract buyers without specs
HP’s Dragonfly Pro lineup, which debuted at CES 2023, initially consists of a Windows laptop and a Chromebook. There’s nothing particularly odd about the products themselves, but there are still some quirky aspects to the range. It’s the branding that’s confusing.
The Dragonfly line has traditionally been part of HP’s commercial laptop lineup. The Dragonfly Pros look less Dragonfly and more like a half step down from the HP Envy line of consumer-focused shells, but at a smaller 14in. The Envy laptops are also marketed for more creative types, while the Dragonfly Pros are aimed at high-end mainstream buyers. It’s a bit of a fuzzy demographic. One thing the target group has in common, however, is a willingness to pay for convenience.
HP seems to be hoping you hear “24/7 concierge support” and think “OK. I’ll buy that one.” (And, if you’re like me, that Dragonfly brand is too cool to waste on business laptops.) Device warranty support will be a monthly fee.
HP says these laptops are “accessible technology” for “digital but not tech-savvy people” who don’t have the time or inclination to look at specs. The company’s plan is for everything to be standard, so you don’t have to make tough choices like which screen to choose. Except you have to make tough choices about how much memory and storage, or whether you want black or white, so you ultimately have to think about specs.
The hardware looks attractive and the specs are decent, as long as you’re not looking for ultra-thin or ultra-light styling. Windows and Chrome laptops are essentially the same, but with adaptations for the different capabilities of their operating systems. Both laptops have RGB backlit keyboards, which is unusual for a Chromebook and something I really like.
In other words, they have different hotkeys; for example, the Windows model has dedicated keys for a control center, camera settings, a custom launcher for the tools you use most frequently, and for contacting support. The Chromebook just has the support key. And those support keys connect you directly to people who specialize in those particular devices, so you don’t have to worry about support reps who are more familiar with, say, budget or flagship models.
Since the Windows laptop is based on an AMD Ryzen 7 7736U, it doesn’t have the same Thunderbolt 4 connections as the Intel i5-1235U based Chromebook. The Windows system has three USB-C ports, two of which are “Thunderbolt 3 compatible”, which means you can use them for fast data connections, power, monitors and fast charging, but not for a Thunderbolt hub. It’s an AMD thing.
The Chromebook has better specs than the Windows system, which seems counterintuitive. Most notably, it has a higher resolution screen that can hit up to 1,200 nits of brightness versus 400 nits for the other, but that’s really meant for viewing in direct sunlight and not watching movies in HDR. . It also has a high-res 8-megapixel webcam, which is useful if you want to zoom in on a head and shoulders view without looking blurry.
HP didn’t give us pricing, but the Dragonfly Pro line doesn’t ship until spring, and HP plans to bring that information closer to availability.