HP DragonFly Folio G3 First Impressions (Updated)

UPDATE: I’ve had my briefing with HP and wanted to correct a few misconceptions I had in this post. You’ll find them throughout. –Paul

Announced back in August, the DragonFly Folio G3 features a leather-like top cover, a 3:2 display, and the innovative pull-forward design that HP first delivered four years ago. (Right, Surface Studio Laptop is a copycat design.)

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But let’s examine the past quickly before moving on to this new PC.

Released in 2018, the HP Spectre Folio was an interesting first stab at a convertible PC with a pull-forward design, but it was held back by its woeful Y-series Intel Core processor. And the choice of leather for its chassis was, in some circles, controversial, though I enjoyed its basketball-like pebbled surface and that it would achieve a warm, used patina over time.

The HP Elite Folio amped up the pull-forward design in 2021 with a faux-leather exterior, a 3:2 display, and a smartpen cradle at the top of the keyboard. But it, too, was held back by its microprocessor, in this case, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 compute platform and its litany of performance and compatibility issues.

And so here we are with what I assume allows HP to call this new PC a “G3” (generation 3) product: the DragonFly Folio, which takes the pull-forward design and everything else that was right with its predecessors into late 2022. It’s as impressive looking and premium feeling as those previous Folio designs, but as one might expect in this post-pandemic, hybrid work world, there have been some meaningful improvements.

UPDATE: My assumption about the G3 branding was correct.

There has been one major design change, however: where previous Folios featured a wraparound leather/faux leather chassis, the Dragonfly Folio is a more traditional design and only has a “leather-like” cover on the device top and hinge. When you turn it over, you can see that the bottom is just metal (most likely aluminum). This is almost certainly for cooling reasons—the low-power processors in previous Folios didn’t run as hot—but it does alter the overall vibe a bit.

UPDATE: The material is magnesium, not aluminum. And while I was correct that the metal bottom enables cooling, it also enables easier serviceability.

On that note, the internal improvements start, as they should, with the use of mainstream Intel Core U-series microprocessors, in this case, a selection of Core i5 and Core i7 U-series processors. Plus 16 or 32 GB of RAM, various 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB storage options. Put simply, this is a more capable computer than its predecessors.

UPDATE: You can get up to 2 TB of storage.

There are at least two display options, from what I can see—my HP briefing is coming up—but both are 13.5-inch WLED panels with a 1920 x 1280 WUXGA+ resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio and low blue light capabilities. I think the primary differentiator is HP’s vaunted Sure View Reflect privacy feature: if you go with that, you get a 1000-nit display, otherwise it’s 400 nits.

UPDATE: There is also a 3K x 2K OLED display option.

Aside from the processor shift, the other big deal with this release appears to be its hybrid work capabilities: the Dragonfly Folio is equipped with an 8 MP web camera with HP Auto Frame and Windows Hello and HP Presence functionality. (That said, there’s no fingerprint reader, which is a recent trend I’m not happy with.) It also features dual microphones that are enhanced by AI noise reduction.

The keyboard and precision touchpad seem excellent in my early use, though I of course prefer to have discrete Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys. Still, HP’s premium portables always nail the keyboard experience overall, and this is no exception.

Expansion remains limited, as it was on previous Folios: you get two Thunderbolt 4/USB4 Type-C ports with 40 Gbps of data transfer speed, USB Power Delivery, and DisplayPort 1.4 capabilities … and that’s it, beyond the combo headphone/microphone jack.

Connectivity is, at least, excellent. All models receive Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, but you can optionally add 4G/LTE or 5G cellular connectivity too, which is excellent.

The Folio also features quad speakers with a discrete amplifier and the system is, of course, powered by Bang & Olufsen.

From a portability perspective, the Folio weighs in at 3.09 pounds, and it feels a bit dense compared to the 2.2-2.5 pounders I’ve been using recently. This can be chalked up to the versatile design, of course. The 4-cell 53-watt-hour battery is charged over USB-C with a standard HP 65-watt USB power adapter.

Finally, as a convertible, the PC comes with a Dragonfly Folio Pen. Previous Folios came with a physical way to secure their pens, but I believe this one is just magnetic. I will see what HP says about during the briefing.

UPDATE: Actually, the pen connectivity functionality is pretty impressive: you can extend a metal tab out of the pen and attach it securely to a port (that resembles USB-C) on the right side of the device. The Folio also supports indirect inking, meaning you can look at an external display while you ink on the Folio’s built-in display while it’s in tablet mode. Very cool.

More soon.

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