For as long as I’ve known about computers, HP has been known for labyrinthine customer service. At the computer store where I worked more than a decade ago, new employees were forced to call HP as an initiation ritual. Nevertheless, perhaps in the wake of plummeting PC sales in recent months, the company has pushed hard on software and services this year. The 2023 roadmap includes positioning itself as, as Alex Cho, president of personal systems, recently put it to me, a “solution provider.”
The HP Dragonfly Pro ($1,399 for our review model with 16GB RAM / 512GB storage) is a first glimpse of what that will look like on the consumer side. It comes with a number of additional customer support features and services that, despite being optional, are mentioned as much as performance and battery life in HP’s presentations, workshops, and publicity materials. Catchphrases like “simplify” and “don’t worry about anything” are all over the website; “24/7 support” is key. HP wants you to buy this laptop and really wants to fix it for you.
This is a really nice device. But as a symbol of HP’s “solutions” focused roadmap, I’m not sold.
- Powerful performance
- Great battery life
- Well built and beautiful machine
- No headphone jack
- Only 1920 x 1200 display options
- I don’t like the focus on subscription based customer service
How we rate and review products
It’s a great device for the office on the go.
I love the laptop
I have few complaints about the Dragonfly Pro itself. The 5MP camera provides a fine and detailed image for video calls. The speakers aren’t quite MacBook quality, but sound pretty good. The (1920 x 1200) touchscreen looks nice and is sufficiently bright, with a test result of 412 nits. The keyboard is quite comfortable, with HP’s signature hotkey column on the right – HP’s had to press the backspace key a bit to make room, but I imagine you get used to that. The (haptic) trackpad is also fine. The build quality is quite nice, with an elegant styling quite similar to previous members of the premium Dragonfly line.
Okay, so there’s one nitpick I can come up with: the port selection is solely three USB-C, two of which are USB-4 and one is 3.2. That’s right – no headphone jack. Boo. Come on.
A thin, light, beautiful device.
This was the first AMD Ryzen 7000 laptop I’ve been able to test this year (it has the Ryzen 7 7736U), and the performance didn’t disappoint. In our benchmarks, it beat Apple’s M2 MacBook Pro on multicore Cinebench tests and came pretty close on single-core tests. It was also pretty close to gaming performance, averaging just two frames per second slower on Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s highest settings. I use the M2 Air and M2 Pro quite often and I don’t see any visible performance difference on the Dragonfly in my day-to-day office work. However, the Dragonfly is noticeably slower in Adobe Premiere Pro, a particular weakness of AMD.
The battery life was a sigh of relief
The square one brings up some camera settings – auto frame, blur, etc.
There is also a white option. This one is sparkling black.
The battery life was a sigh of relief. I averaged 12 hours and 46 minutes of continuous work use. I can’t tell you how nice it is to see all-day battery life on a Windows machine after testing legions of four-hour Intel machines for most of the past year. More of this!
This AMD processor really seems like a dream come true. Unfortunately, I mentioned this about some AMD machines last year only to find them impossible to buy quite soon after release. So let’s hope that doesn’t happen here I guess.
But I don’t like the services
HP describes the Dragonfly Pro’s target demographic as “freelancers” – self-employed, mobile, extremely online professionals. These freelancers, HP argues in the documentation, “need their PCs to work consistently because they depend on them for their livelihoods. Technical headaches and getting support is frustrating and downtime costs them.”
In an apparent aim to serve this demographic, the Dragonfly (optional) comes with what HP calls “24/7 Pro Live Support”. The first year is included and after that it’s $10.99 a month. A specific button on the keyboard, etched with two small speech bubbles, opens the service directly. (Busy freelancers, as I’m sure you know, don’t want to waste time pulling the app from their taskbar.) This isn’t a tiny function key; it is a large, highly visible special key.
On initial launch, I was told you couldn’t remap this key, a fact I complained about incessantly in my hands-on video. HP seems to have since changed its mind and is now telling me that you can remap this button. Awesome! I still don’t see an option to remap it in the myHP app on my test device, but HP tells me it’s coming shortly after launch.
In case you forgot which company made this thing.
I just have to say right off the bat that I am not buying this sales pitch. I know a lot of busy, mobile, extremely online freelancers. I’ve been one at points in my life. These are people who know how to Google things. They can solve problems themselves. And most importantly, it’s people who buy laptops expecting them to work, not breaking them all the time and needing regular customer service calls. If my computer messes up so much that I need a giant tech support button on my keyboard, it’s possible I made a purchase mistake. I’m convinced that the real target demographic for this pack is my grandparents who need help figuring out how to mute themselves on Teams.
I know I don’t have access to the market research that HP does, but I had to get rid of that. Thanks for listening.
This could easily be the Elite Dragonfly, right?
But I digress. HP markets this service as such a huge, integral benefit that I thought I should try it. My experience was mixed. First, the large support hotkey isn’t particularly responsive. I had to hit it an average of four times to open the app. There were cases when it just wouldn’t open at all. In almost every case, simply opening the app from the taskbar would have saved me time.
When I finally opened the app, it was also frustratingly unresponsive. I had to click different buttons multiple times and watch different spinning wheels. I submitted my question via a form. (My speakers were a bit creaky, and I asked how I could fix that — this is normally something I just Google, but I wanted to see how the live chat worked.) I was put in line for several minutes before a (very nice ) agent slowly and carefully walked me through each step to update my audio drivers, which involved downloading some stuff and giving them remote control of my device.
It wasn’t terrible customer service, but it wasn’t so exceptional that I’d recommend paying $130 a year to use it occasionally, and it didn’t seem well-tailored to the hurried, tech-savvy freelancer.
The support button is the one with the speech bubbles.
In the end, I think this Dragonfly is great hardware. The lack of a headphone jack is a disappointment, but the combination of performance and battery life it offers is better than I’ve seen in a long time on a Windows PC.
It’s a shame that HP, through both its marketing and the literal design of its keyboard, tries to use such a great device to sell people subscription services that aren’t great and they just don’t need. You might need a subscription service like that if you buy a $500 pavilion that’s breaking left and right. If you’re paying $1,300 for a premium PC, then you really shouldn’t be.