HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook review: Beset by poor battery life

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I’m always excited to review Chromebooks like the new $999 HP Dragonfly Pro. These are devices aimed at an audience of ChromeOS-enthusiastic professionals – people who use and develop Parallels with Linux and maybe even game, people who are willing to are paying a lot of money for the best performance and the most premium 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 a beautiful chassis, great screens, and powerful performance that aren’t abundant in the Chromebook space, and they had prestigious, respected branding behind them. But their battery life didn’t live up to their high price.

The Dragonfly Pro is no exception. And as I use it, I just wonder: When? When will we get more Chromebooks like the Flip CX5: nice, beautiful, well-designed ChromeOS devices that also last all day when I’m not plugged in? Please, someone. I’m so tired.

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook


The good

  • Good performance
  • Excellent 1200 nit screen
  • RGB keyboard
  • Great sound
  • 8MP webcam

The bad

  • No headphone jack
  • Disappointing battery life
  • Pricey as Chromebooks go
  • ChromeOS still has its glitches

How we rate and review products

The good is on the outside

If I were just evaluating the chassis, the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook would be a must. It has a lot of great benefits.

For example, there are four Thunderbolt 4 ports. That’s a good selection. I was able to connect almost all the monitors and accessories 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 8MP camera – claimed to be the first front-facing camera ever to appear on a Chromebook. It looks fine. I asked a colleague 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 pretty good, with surround quality comparable to that of a decent external speaker. I would like to use this as a multimedia device.

Nice little fingerprint sensor next to the power button.

Oh, and there’s an RGB keyboard that can automatically sync with your background wallpaper (or you can set it to a color you prefer). I actually couldn’t get this to work on the device I received, and I’m still waiting for a response from HP on possible fixes, so I’ll have to update this review once that’s fixed. If you’re someone who wants flashy colors but doesn’t want a gaming laptop, your day has come.

However, the highlight for me is probably the screen. It’s the brightest screen I’ve ever seen on a Chromebook. HP claims it reaches 1,200 nits, and cranking it all the way up certainly caused my eyes considerable pain. The resolution of 2560 x 1600 (16:10) also provides a pleasant viewing experience. And the panel supports adaptive lighting based on your environment. (I didn’t really notice this happening, but maybe that’s the point.) Again, this is a movie-watching dream and would definitely be my Chromebook of choice for outdoor work.

HP calls it an “ultra-bright light-adaptive touchscreen”.

It charges via USB-C (because that’s the only option).

Humorously, this Chromebook (which is $999 for the Core i5-1235U, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage in my review unit) actually has a brighter, higher-resolution screen, more advanced webcam, jazzier keyboard, and better port selection than the Windows version of the Dragonfly Pro, which starts at several hundred dollars more. On paper, it seems like a much better deal – until the battery dies.

HP’s Dragonfly PCs often have a vertical row of shortcut keys on the side of their keyboards, but not this Chromebook.

The troubles are in

I have no complaints about the performance of the 1235U. It handled everything I needed. I generally worked with three to four open apps and about a dozen Chrome tabs. I keep running into glitches here and there with ChromeOS – for example the Spotify and Messenger Android apps crashed all over the place, were very slow to update, wouldn’t close and wouldn’t resize – but I assume if you considering buying a Chromebook, you’ve decided you’re fine with these limitations.

The only time I heard fan noise was when I tried to stream a Spotify playlist over the aforementioned load while running an external display. The keyboard was often warm and the keys in the middle occasionally went to the “awkward” line, but nothing caught fire.

This Chromebook has a brighter, higher resolution screen, more advanced webcam and better port selection than the Windows version of the Dragonfly Pro

But the biggest issue I had was battery life. Two and a half hour. That’s how long this device took on average to charge, running the workload I described above at medium brightness. I definitely got longer in some trials, especially those that were lighter in the Android apps, but I’m pretty sure if this was my personal device I’d have to charge it two, maybe three times a day.

Different people’s workloads may lead to different battery life results, but I’ll say two things:

  • I consistently get a longer lifespan than most reviewers I know.
  • This all happened with the keyboard backlight off.
  • Good speakers. They are good!

    Now I know that battery life is not everyone’s priority. I know some people don’t care. But if you’ve read my reviews before, you know I have a strong, principled position on this issue. I said this in 2020 when reviewing the OLED Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, and I’ll say it again here: Outside of gaming and workstations, sub-five hours of battery life is not acceptable on a $1,000 device. I don’t care how nice the webcam and speakers are or how many colors the keys can produce. Battery life is a quality of life issue for many people, as few other features are.

    I won’t say don’t sell a device that doesn’t last half a day. But it can’t cost that much. $999 is MacBook territory.

    Agree to continue: HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook

    To start using the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook, you must agree to the following:

    • Google Terms of Service
    • Sync your Chromebook apps and settings and Chrome Browser bookmarks, passwords and history. (This can be checked after setup.)
    • Google Play Terms of Service

    You can also say yes or no to the following:

    • Send ChromeOS diagnostics and usage data to Google
    • Google Drive backup
    • Allow apps and services with location permissions to use your device’s location
    • Allow the Assistant to access a screenshot of what’s on your screen to provide tailored responses
    • Google Assistant Voice Agreement

    In total, that’s three mandatory agreements and five optional agreements to use the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook.

    I wanted so badly to love this device, and I really think it’s something special. It offers an eclectic combination of features that you won’t find in any other Chromebook on the market. The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook was good; this is equally funky but more affordable. Unfortunately, HP didn’t pack enough tank into this chassis to take advantage of the Core i5 coupled with a bright, high-resolution screen.

    I love using Chromebooks like this one. But their battery life, compared to what you can get from much cheaper devices, is often a disappointment. Here’s hoping HP, Samsung, Lenovo and other manufacturers vying for the premium slot the Pixelbook left behind can make improvements here. Because these are thin, light and beautiful machines. They are not meant to live on a desk.

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