There have been many different inflection points along the way in the Chromebook story. I think back to many different moments over the years that define the overall experience, and the odd, almost-questionable hardware comes to mind over and over again as this product segment has evolved and grown. These inflection points don’t always end up producing runaway hardware home runs, but they all matter in their own ways and all pushed the Chromebook ecosystem forward.
Chromebook inflection points
I think back to notable devices like the original Chromebook Pixel. That device made absolutely no sense at the time, yet when we look back and consider what it did, it becomes a bit more clear that the first premium Chromebook offered from Google opened the door for others to try the same thing down the road.
I remember the first convertible Chromebook – the ASUS Flip C100 – and the wildly-unprepared ChromeOS that existed back then. There was no tablet mode, touch inputs were a bit sketchy, and no one had attempted a convertible Chromebook at the time. It was a huge swing that helped pave the way for convertibles for certain.
Then there was the Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro that launched at the same time as the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302. Those convertible devices stood on the shoulders of the Flip C100 and gave us the first non-Pixel Chromebooks with features like an all-aluminum chassis, pen support, and high-res 3:2 screens. I’ll never forget seeing Samsung debut the Chromebook Plus and Pro at their keynote at CES 2017. That was wild.
And who can forget the one-of-a-kind Pixelbook: a device that took nearly every good thing in the Chromebook ecosystem and put it all in one device. I don’t think there has ever been such an iconic laptop whose design was simultaneously a bit polarizing and timeless. With only a few tweaks, Google could release a new Pixelbook with updated internals, smaller bezels, and sell them like crazy. It was a game-changer in the premium Chromebook space that’s never quite been replicated.
I’ve clearly skipped over many great Chromebooks in that little trip down memory lane, but I don’t need to mention every device to drive home the point: there are simply devices that are more iconic than others and they stand above the rest. It may be because of a particular feature that a specific device introduced or the difficult-to-define intangible characteristics that make one Chromebook a bit more beloved than another. Regardless of the reason, some Chromebooks just stand out as different.
Dragonfly Pro is the new standard
We’re not quite far enough removed from its launch to really see it in hindsight, but I feel like the HP Dragonfly Pro will be one of those devices that mark an inflection point for Chromebooks. From what we can tell, it has sold quite well even without being in the big-box retail stores. And it’s never really been on sale, either. HP has relegated it to their own store and never really felt the need to push sales by discounting it.
And that is precisely because it is awesome. When a piece of hardware comes along that gets so much right and absolutely nails the user experience, the aesthetics, and the most stringent quality standards, you don’t have to reduce the price to get people interested. It commands its $999 price tag without shame because with the Dragonfly Pro, you don’t really have to compromise anything.
Do you want the best display by a long shot in a Chromebook? Do you want the best keyboard? The best trackpad? How about the best speakers you maybe have ever heard on a laptop? RGB keyboard? 8MP webcam? Fast I/O with Thunderbolt 4? Real-time, white glove customer support? You have it all in the Dragonfly Pro.
And it all comes wrapped in one of the best laptop chassis I’ve ever held in my hands. It is attractive, comfortable, and as rigid as a laptop can get. There are no confusing spec configurations, either: it comes beefed up with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of NVMe storage. There’s one, fast processor option in the 12th-gen Intel Core i5 and there are simply two colors: white and black.
Clarity and focus in a premium Chromebook
The HP Dragonfly Pro, 6 months after release, still represents the most focused and cohesive Chromebook experience money can buy. And for all the niceties it delivers, you’d pay far more in a Windows or MacOS device. Yet, $999 gets you one of the most premium laptop experiences available.
And with Chromebook Plus (yes, this device qualifies, obviously), more great features are here and on the way as well. Less and less is there an argument that you can’t do certain things on a Chromebook. With Photoshop on the web delivering fantastic Chromebook experiences and tools like LumaFusion and CapCut’s web editor, it’s becoming increasingly easy to go all-in on Chromebooks. And that’s where devices like the HP Dragonfly Pro shine. If you’re ready to go full-blown Chromebook, it offers up the best of the best without any need to compromise.
I have to keep my hands off of the Dragonfly Pro
We still have one here in the office and I rarely pick it up simply because it is so much nicer than anything else available. HP nailed it with this device, and each time I use it even for a small amount of time, all I want to do is keep it on my desk and in my bag.
But I have to review Chromebooks, and doing so with a device in my bag that is so superior to the others skews my perception quite a bit. From a price perspective, it’s not fair to put $399 Chromebook Plus models up against the $999 HP Dragonfly Pro. Other than the fact that they both run ChromeOS, it’s really an apples and oranges comparison.
And I guess that’s what I’m trying to express, here. Even though the hype around the Dragonfly Pro has cooled a bit over the course of 2023, I’m telling you that the superlative nature of this Chromebook hasn’t changed a bit. The Dragonfly Pro has set a new standard for Chromebook quality, and though I don’t think all of our Chromebooks need this level of engineering, I’m hopeful that it trickles down a bit over time.
I’m also hopeful that HP or another company will once again take a big swing like this in the future as well. We need halo devices like the Dragonfly Pro, and we need them to be clearly superior. May this be your reminder that the Dragonfly Pro is that device, it is still absolutely worth the money if you want that sort of experience, and it is an absolute pleasure to use.