Every year with CES is a bit different for us. With Chromebooks, you just never know which companies are going to show up what, and it is sometimes hard to know which companies are going to bring anything Chrome OS-related at all. As for HP, as long as we’ve been attending CES – in-person or virtually as we did last year and as we are doing this year as well – they’ve never really had much of a presence at the yearly tech show. Even when they did, their Chromebook offerings were always pretty minimal.
That’s absolutely not the case this year as HP has started out the year with a bang in the Chromebook space by debuting the brand new HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook as a part of CES 2022. This device is quite literally the answer to so many requests we’ve had over the years for high-end Chromebooks and my initial impressions of it are so good that I foresee it being the Chromebook to beat in 2022. Yep, we already have a candidate for 2022 Chromebook of the Year in the first week of January. Let’s get into it to see why.
All the specs and features
So, first off, we have to talk about the specs and features going on in this Chromebook. Starting with the outside, HP has put together a gorgeous-looking device made from an aluminum/magnesium alloy that feels sturdy and looks really sweet, too. Little details like the chamfered edges on the hinges are nice aesthetic touches and the chassis is basically the same size as the Elite c1030 from 2020; just refined and a bit more elegant all around.
Speaking of the hinges, this is a convertible that does all the standard modes we’re used to at this point, but HP made sure to include magnets in all the right places, keeping things closed tightly when shut in clamshell mode or when converted to a tablet. And, that’s really the ongoing theme, here: HP seems to have thought of everything with this Chromebook.
Inside that lid, we have a 3:2, 13.5-inch display that is probably my favorite size/aspect ratio combination on a Chromebook. The Elite c1030 and all the Acer Chromebook Spin 713’s have used it, and it is the perfect balance of mobility and productivity. HP even heard our cries about the lower resolution on the Elite c1030 and gave us an option for the same 2256×1504 resolution I’ve loved on the Spin 713 over the years while keeping things at 400 nits across the board. HP will also ship models with an optional 1000 nit screen that uses the company’s Sure View Reflect privacy shield, too.
OK, so build is great, color is great, screen is great, but it doesn’t stop there. Not even close. HP has once again nailed the keyboard, making the keys a bit larger than what we have on the c1030 and with the dark key cap color, we eliminate the issue where gray keys and keyboard backlighting make the characters hard to see sometimes. They also added a universal mute key in the function row, so you can be certain your call is muted when it needs to be and there’s a fingerprint scanner right beneath the keyboard where you’d expect it.
Focused on video calls
Speaking of video calls, HP also opted for a much better webcam in the Elite Dragonfly that bumps things up from the paltry 720p resolution we normally get on Chromebooks all the way to 5MP. While that isn’t astounding by itself, the fact that HP is tuning this camera for better skin tones and exposure to eliminate glare and blown-out shots is a welcome site in the Chrome OS world. From what we can tell so far, this tuning is working and HP says it will only get better as this Chromebook gets closer to release. As there should be, there is a privacy shutter right over the webcam for easily shutting off the camera when needed.
As another addition to the video calling capabilities of this Chromebook, HP has finally delivered a set of speakers that actually sound good. I take that back: they sound fantastic. With a quad speaker setup that has two drivers above the keyboard and two right on the underside of the keyboard deck, this thing has great volume, richness, and low-end. Clearly, HP wanted to make this Chromebook great for video calls and they look to be achieving that with a combo of a solid camera and much-improved speakers. As another fun addition, they put the dual mic array on the top of the lid so the mics pick up 360 degrees of sound, not just right in front of the device.
The haptic trackpad comes to Chromebooks
As a world’s first, HP has opted to include a haptic trackpad on the Elite Dragonfly, and I love this SO much. If you aren’t familiar, haptic trackpads are used by Apple in their Macbooks and in the Magic Trackpad to create the sense of a click without any actual moving parts. It does feel a bit magic the first time you use it and I’m very glad to see it coming to a Chromebook. It takes away the chance that this device will ship with a misaligned trackpad and ensures that everyone gets the same overall experience when using this excellent Chromebook. Oh, and it lets you click on the trackpad surface at any point left to right, top to bottom. I sincerely hope this becomes a standard thing on nicer Chromebooks moving forward.
Performance will be great
Under the hood, this one is a monster, utilizing Intel’s latest 12th-gen Alder Lake chips, up to 32GB of RAM and up to 512GB of NVMe storage. To put it simply, this will be a very, very fast Chromebook. To offset all that power, the fans in the Elite Dragonfly are tuned to be very quiet as they keep things cool enough to run at full speed for long periods. With those internals comes Wi-Fi 6e for speedy network connections and optional 5G as well.
As far as the ports go, we have a great selection of those, too. 2 USB Type C ports are here with Thunderbolt 4 along with a USB Type A, microSD card slot, and a full-sized HDMI port. The charging happens fast with those USB C ports, too, giving you a 90% bump in only 90 minutes. All told, you’ll likely be able to leave the dongles in the bag, connect to whatever you need, be up and running without additional cables and stuff.
Finally, this device comes with a new color-matched stylus from HP that looks a lot like the one we saw with the x2 11 and it keeps the same magnetically attaching, wireless charging tricks as well. Again, I really feel like HP thought of everything with this Chromebook.
It looks like $999 will be the starting price on the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook and we are expecting availability at some point in Q2. As I’ve said throughout this video, HP really poured everything into this Chromebook and I can’t wait to see it in its final form later this year. This pre-production unit is already pretty amazing, and I know things will be further tuned up before release.
With most Chromebooks, there are always a few things that feel like a compromise. With the Elite Dragonfly, I just don’t think that is the case. Unless this one ships with some unforseen fatal flaw, it should arrive as the best overall Chromebook ever built, and that is a very, very fun way to start off the year. Well done, HP.