HP Dragonfly Folio G3 First Look: Flexibility For The Hybrid Enterprise

HP Dragonfly Folio G3 HP

I have seen many OEMs shifting priorities in the enterprise space from a good notebook for office use to laptops better suited for collaboration and a hybrid world. In late August, HP released a swath of new enterprise devices, including the HP Dragonfly Folio G3. You can read my full write-up on the devices announcement here. HP’s latest device, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3, is aimed at hybrid work and has a unique, convertible form factor design to address some challenges. I used this convertible form factor in the past with the HP Spectre Folio in 2018, and more recently with the Surface Laptop Studio.

The HP Dragonfly Folio G3 looks to build on the form factor of the HP Spectre Folio while introducing more flexibility for collaboration. I recently reviewed one of HP’s other new enterprise devices, the HP Elite Dragonfly G3, and you can read that piece here. Last week, HP sent me an early HP Dragonfly Folio G3 to run through my use case and give some initial thoughts on the design. This system is a prototype. Because of this, I will not dive deep into benchmarking but will provide some initial thoughts on the device.

Design

It felt very premium when I took the system out of the box. Like the last generation, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 2-in-1 has a unique pull-forward design that allows you to use the display in three different orientations. The first is like a traditional notebook. The second is a pull-forward orientation that brings the display close to you while hiding the keyboard and lastly is like a conventional 2-in-1 tablet. The device’s top cover is coated in a leather-like material and feels very durable. The leather material feels like a designer handbag more than a notebook. The bottom of the device still has the premium magnesium material I have come to like from HP. I will admit, I still favor the design of the first-generation Folio with real designer leather on the top and bottom of the unit. It felt more premium and more like a real-world folio. I do understand some would prefer “faux” leather and appreciate the cool magnesium bottom cover, but not I.

Naturally, a hybrid worker can put much wear and tear on a notebook, so a durable design is critical. The system resembles the same thickness as the HP Spectre Folio

I think the multimodal trend of hybrid work emphasizes that no one orientation can do it all in an era of hybrid work, and HP follows this trend with the HP Dragonfly Folio G3. Sometimes you need to focus on video streaming and pull the display forward; other times, you may want to sign documents or sketch with the pen as a tablet. This design offers the flexibility to do work however you see fit. The OLED display is 13.5″, 1920 x 1080 resolution, and has a 3:2 aspect ratio. Since I will use this device as a tablet, productivity machine, and streaming device, I like to have a touch display which this device supports. On top of the display is an 8MP RGB+IR MIPI camera with a 100-degree field view. HP showed that the wide FOV could capture multiple subjects in the frame without squeezing them together. I believe the wider FOV is more for in-person collaboration. While this does not fit my workflow, I could see it being convenient for other collaborators.

I learned when opening the display to grip it from the top instead of the side. Several times when I engaged the notebook from the side of the display, I raked the display over the top of my keyboard. When I applied too much side pressure, it disconnected the magnet and allowed the display to swing freely. I don’t think this is a design flaw because I have had a similar experience with the Surface Laptop Studio. Although it discourages me a bit to use it in that mode, I don’t see it as an integrity concern. I am interested to see how Microsoft and HP address this in later generations.

HP Dragonfly Folio G3 HP

One of the design changes that HP addressed with this generation was to make the touchpad significantly bigger. Larger trackpads on a 13-inch notebook is better for run and gun productivity task when I don’t want to hook up an external mouse. The pen that comes with the device magnetically attaches to the side of the device and automatically charges when connected. It also supports natural and intelligent inking features.

Specs and features

The system has some good specs for a thin enterprise device. My system came with a 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1245U processor, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 256GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. The system does scale up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 2TB of storage. It comes with two USB-C ports, a SIM slot, and a headphone jack. The bottom portion of the notebook is extremely thin, so there isn’t much real estate for ports and I/O. If you dedicate one of the USB-C ports to charging, then it only leaves one port for peripherals.

The system also has 5G connectivity so that you can use it as an Always-Connected PC (ACPC). This is great for hybrid users as a reliable Wi-Fi connection is hard to come by sometimes, and a hot spot can drain your phone battery very quickly. However, 5G connectivity could also drain the battery of an ACPC and although I did not get extensive time to see how different the battery was with 5G connectivity, it is something to keep in mind. Nevertheless, I would rather have the always connected 5G option than none at all.

User experience 

This system treated me no differently than what I have come to expect from HP in thin and light enterprise devices, with good performance and solid battery life. I could efficiently run my Office 365 applications, take meetings, crunch data, and design presentations. For video conferencing, I also used Microsoft Teams, Zoom and ran Google Meet. The HP Dragonfly G3 was great for general productivity tasks like writing blogs, conducting web research, and collaborating with employees. I couldn’t bog the system down on my productivity use case. There were never any noticeable lags or hiccups throughout my use.

HP talked about having a new thermal solution on this device, and I noticed vents on both sides of the device that likely support better cooling. The notebook warmed up a little during my heaviest use, but nothing was unbearable. I used the pull-forward display more than I thought, especially for streaming YouTube videos. The tablet mode was less of a use case for me, but it works well in conjunction with the pen. There is also a built-in privacy camera with a dedicated key for those worried about snooping eyes. The system also supports HP Sure View, which protects the display from certain viewing angles for someone watching over your shoulder.

HP Dragonfly Folio G3 HP

HP didn’t stop with hardware and has deeply invested in its software technology to create a better experience for hybrid work users. HP has many technologies aimed at creating a better collaboration experience. Most of these sit under the HP Presence banner, including HP Auto Frame, HP AI-based Noise Reduction, and HP Dynamic Voice Leveling. Face tracking kept me focused, framing ensured I was in the correct frame, and noise reduction made my video conferencing a much better experience. The noise reduction was beneficial. Any user that works from anywhere knows that there are often unwanted noises like dogs barking at the Amazon delivery driver that can derail a conversation.

In a hybrid environment, battery life is essential. You never know when the next outlet is coming or when someone will hog the outlet at an airport or coffee shop. Throughout my use, I got 12+ hours of battery life on a typical day. I plug systems in after a day’s use, so anything over the 12+ hours I saw is a bonus. The system supports HP Auto Screen Dimming, which automatically dims your screen once it detects you are no longer looking at it. I like this feature as it’s a way to stretch battery life with software versus adding a more power-efficient processor or a bigger battery.

I appreciate that this notebook can be a different form factor based on your specific needs. Some users may not use the pull-forward display or tablet mode, but it’s all about flexibility and options for hybrid users. I found myself using the pull-forward in conferencing and streaming scenarios, and by the end of my testing, I got accustomed to it.

I am interested to see how HP prices the Dragonfly Folio G3. If you are looking at this laptop and the Surface Laptop Studio, which has the same design, there are a couple of tradeoffs. The Surface Laptop Studio is heavier, has no option for 5G connectivity, and has an 11th-Gen Intel Core processor. However, it also the option of an NVIDIA dGPU and a 120Hz display. For those who plan on using their device for work and play, the Surface Laptop Studio would be better for gaming, but the Dragonfly Folio G3 would be better for tackling hybrid work environments with its lightweight design.

Wrapping up

When I picked up the HP Dragonfly Folio G3, it felt much like the HP Spectre Folio I reviewed years ago. The difference between this device and the previous gen is that it has many design improvements, much more performance, and a new suite of HP software technologies that help create a better collaboration experience. Hybrid work is a unique challenge plaguing the enterprise, and I believe we are still in the early days of figuring out the right solutions to solve collaboration problems. HP is one of the companies I look to be a leader in hybrid devices for years to come, and I am even more hopeful since the company has officially acquired Poly. 

It still feels like the first quarter in this hybrid work journey that enterprises are going through. A lot of this demand was brought on by COVID abruptly. Certain horses you wouldn’t want to bet against in this race, and I believe HP is one of them. Undoubtedly, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 is an excellent system for the modern hybrid worker, and I am looking forward to thoroughly reviewing the system with a full production unit. In the meantime, good work, HP. 

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.