Unboxing and impressions of the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook


Unboxing and impressions of the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook

It’s not every day that you get the chance to unpack What could be the best Chromebook of the year? While we got a chance to play around with an early pre-production model of the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook back in January, it was clear that things were definitely not ready for prime time back then. Fast forward to June and things are very different with the arrival of the retail-ready model of the Dragonfly that we now have in the office.


Why the dragonfly deserves its Elite title

Once we get into the boring but planet-friendly box, It doesn’t take long to remember why this Chromebook is so good. Starting with the outside, the Dragonfly comes in a striking dark navy colorway with the new 4-line HP logo on the lid. With an aluminium/magnesium alloy chassis, thin frame, cushioned vents and weighing less than 1.5kg, this Chromebook feels fantastic out of the box. There’s no creaking or flexing in the body, and the overall feel is one of portability: until you open the lid.

Inside it gets really interesting Since HP uses the same screen size that we see in Acer’s Spin 713 and Spin 513, this portable Chromebook offers a larger screen than you’d expect from the outside. Specifically, we’re dealing with a 13.5-inch 2256×1504 QHD display that hits up to 400 nits of brightness and looks colourful, vibrant and sharp. With reasonable top/bottom bezels and very small side bezels, the look is modern and clean with a 5-megapixel camera on top; manual privacy screen in tow. I’ll test the camera a little more closely on this one, but I can tell right away that HP has really worked to make this one of the best Chromebook cameras to date. Overall, colors and exposure are MUCH better than what we’ve come to expect from webcams on Chromebooks.

Below the screen is a very satisfying backlit keyboard with some additional function keys. Add-ons include a dedicated microphone switcher, an on/off button for the keyboard backlight, and the return of the play/pause button. So far this keyboard is as good as HP makes it, and that’s saying something. HP’s keyframes have been top notch for years, and this is the best version of those already great keyboards.

Underneath is the fully haptic trackpad, a world first. That’s right: Nothing on this trackpad actually moves, but it feels like it. There are currently few settings that generally control how hard you press down to register a click sensation. I prefer the light setting because it feels like a responsive, easy-to-use trackpad. The feedback under my fingers is delightful and I don’t have to worry about people who buy this Chromebook getting a poorly customized version. Click anywhere on the desired surface and you’ll get exactly the same, satisfying click every time. It’s awesome.

To the right of this trackpad is the fingerprint scanner and the magnetic area for the included wirelessly-charged USI stylus. The fingerprint scanner is in the right place (I think) and works just as flawlessly as others we’ve tried on previous Chromebooks. The pen magnet right next door is sturdy and keeps the USI pen charged and ready to use whenever it’s needed.

There are 4 speakers on the top and bottom of the keyboard deck, two on the top and two on the bottom; and they pump out the sound. While not quite as rich and deep as the Pixelbook Go’s awesome cans, this quad-speaker setup sounds very good in my limited testing. I’ll try some more intense content for review, but initial tries show a solid sound setup for general use.

Inside, our test device has the 12th Gen Intel Core i5 with 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. We’re not sure what configurations will eventually be available for general consumer purchases, but I’m really hoping that a few options will become available over time. The base model appears to come later with a 12th Gen Intel Core i3, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but this will reportedly start at $1149. Sure, that still gets you all of the perks above, but those specs will make it a tough sell for most buyers. With devices like the excellent Acer Chromebook Spin 513 sharing some of the same perks as this excellent Dragonfly Chromebook at half the price, it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out once it hits stores. Now it’s time to start the review and find out if all the Dragonfly benefits are worth the asking price.

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