Just so you know, HP sent me this laptop to review and I get to keep this laptop. But I want to make it clear that I've been so impressed with this laptop that I'm thinking about buying it for my developers. It's a phenomenal deal for the price and it's one that makes a lot of sense for programmers; hence the name "Dev One"
So let's talk about this machine.
At first brush, the Dev One has gorgeous industrial design that feels absolutely quality in the hand or on the lap. The chassis feels like aluminum and its angular design is sleek. The screen-to-bezel ratio is slimmer than what I've come to expect from many laptops in this price range, and the keyboard offers a premium typing experience.
It's no mechanical keyboard, but of the many laptops I've used, this one offers satisfying feedback that's often neglected from other manufacturers. It has a backlight with three settings, off, minimum, and maximum. But I haven't seen the backlight enabling automatically in low light situations. You've gotta enable it manually--which is something I'd like a future updated to the Dev One to address. It also has a trackpoint nub which I've always appreciated but never used. Interestingly, the only modern machines I've seen with the trackpoint nub is the Thinkpad series... and I feel like its inclusion here is a statement. The HP Dev One is aiming to directly compete with the Thinkpad and, in my book, is a better contender.
The typeface used on the keyboard is inoffensive, if a little chunky. Using exclusively capital letters for alphabetical characters, while the control and function keys are exclusively lowercase feels a little strange to this designer's sensibilities. The keyboard is reportedly spill-resistant which I do not intend to test first hand. The keyboard is also somehow missing play/pause, next and previous media keys. Not sure how they managed to exclude these buttons but I use them all the time and their exclusion is a bit frustrating for me.
My one complaint about the keyboard is that I prefer to have a num pad and a more traditional layout of the home/end/delete/insert keys. But for this form factor, it's more than serviceable for a developer's needs.
And the trackpad. This is a premium-feeling trackpad. It's actually made of glass and that adds to the quality feel. Note that the buttons at the top the of the trackpad are meant for the trackpoint.
So let's talk about the specs.
At it's heart, the Dev One sports an 8-core AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 5850U at a base clock of 1.9 GHz and is able to boost up to 4.4Ghz.
The machine also boasts dual channel 16 Gigabytes of DDR4 RAM at 3200 Megatransfers/second. This is two 8 Gigabyte SODIMM modules that are fully user-upgradable up to 64 Gigs! Excellent to see as many vendors are moving away from user-servicable laptops.
For storage, the Dev One comes with a PCIe gen 3x4 1TB SSD. This, too, is also user-upgradable as it's seated in an M.2 slot.
The Dev One has a 14" 1920x1080 FHD display with 1000 nit peak brightness. The screen is behind glass and seems to feature an anti-glare coating of some sort. Viewing angles are quite low on this display, though. And that might be intentional as off-axis viewing seems to behave like a privacy filter rather than having color warping on cheap screens.
The screen is driven by an integrated Renoir-based Radeon chipset. Having been spoiled by the Steam Deck the last few months, the performance of the Renoir chip is significantly less than I'm used to but still more than enough for the types of workloads you'll typically encounter with this device. Low-end gaming is definitely doable. But AAA titles are not going to perform spectacularly.
One of the most impressive aspects of the hardware is the sound quality of the integrated speakers. While they're decidedly laptop speakers, they are plenty loud with a surprising dynamic range. I could easily listen to music using these speakers and not have my inner audiophile cringe too harshly.
The camera is--to be expected--a 720p potato. It does not look good, colors are either over-saturated or completely washed out and--even in ideal lighting conditions, the sensor introduces an enormous amount of noise to the image. But one cool feature is a mechanical shutter that covers the lens and physically blocks the sensor for added privacy. The shutter is even visible over the camera which is appreciated.
For connectivity, the Dev One comes loaded for bear. The right side sports a barrel jack power connector, an HDMI 2.0 port, and two USB type-C 10 Gbps ports. On the left side, we have a Kensington lock, two Type-A USB ports at 5Gbps, and one headphone/microphone combo jack. The Dev One has a combination Realtek RTL8822CE Wifi ac 2x2 and Bluetooth 5 chipset.
The battery is quoted as having "all day battery" and "up to 12 hours of battery." In my testing with 75% screen brightness and light usage (writing this article, for example), I used just under 40% of the battery in about 3 hours. That's not bad but it's a far cry from 12 hours of battery life. Maybe if I reduced the screen brightness, I'd get closer to the 12 hour mark.
Frankly, there's a reason that HP chose Pop!_OS for the Dev One notebook. Pop!_OS is quickly becoming one of the most excellent Linux distros. Between their enthusiasm for Free and Open Source software and their focus on maximizing productivity in the UI, System76 has made a quite compelling Linux distribution.
And despite the one highly public faux pas with LinusTechTips, Pop!_OS has a reputation for being a highly polished and easy to use Linux distro.
And while this article could be all about Pop, I don't think that's the main thrust I want to make with this article.
Instead, let's imagine what this machine would look like if it shipped with Windows:
If this notebook had shipped with Windows, it would have had various applications installed to manage settings of the device and its accessories.
Meanwhile with Pop!_OS, all the included software customizations are built into the settings panel providing a superior and more ethical user experience.
And when I say "more ethical" I mean that you don't have privacy-effecting and other settings hidden across disparate apps. They're centralized in a single settings menu and easy to find using familiar user interface paradigms.
Now let's talk about that for a second. This version of Pop!_OS comes with built-in telemetry that provides you with a proper choice of whether to enable it or not. Furthermore, you may easily access all the telemetry that's ever been sent to HP, delete any data that's ever been sent, and opt in or out at any time. This is enormous because, the fact of the matter is, free and open source software MUST embrace user metrics and telemetry if it wants to improve compared to proprietary offerings--but it also must practice ethical data collection practices. And that's what HP and System76 are doing here. It's fantastic to see.
And if you're a developer, Pop!_OS is a great choice for you. Not only does it have the aforementioned user interface improvements to differentiate itself from upstream GNOME, but it also features flatpaks for up-to-date packages and all the offerings you'd come to expect from a modern Linux distro.
But let's switch gears and talk about accessories.
HP is selling two accessories on their website, the System76 Launch Configurable Keyboard and the HP 935 Creator Wireless mouse.
I'm quite familiar with the System76 Launch Keyboard and I published a review of it last year. They included the Launch here for me to review. I love this keyboard. It's awesome.
This is the same model they sent me to review so if you want an in-dept analysis, you can check out my video about it here.
As for the Creator mouse, it's nice. It fits my hand well. It's got seven configurable buttons which is more than enough. Plus, it can connect to up to three different devices--two bluetooth and one via the included wireless dongle. It's also chargeable via USB C. Finally, it has horizontal scrolling which is a feature I can no longer live without.
My biggest complaint with this mouse is that it's incredibly light. I know many people prefer a very light mouse, but coming in at n grams it almost feels too light. So light as to feel cheaply made. Even though it's not cheaply made.
Other small nitpicks is that I've accidentally hit the button to switch device connections several times when meaning to hit the back button. Additionally, the mechanical toggle between smooth and staccato scrolling is just that--mechanical. Coming from the Logitech MX Master mouse, the comparable button on my daily driver electronically activates the toggle and the mechanical button on the Creator mouse feels like a slight step down. Again, that's a minor nitpick.
For those impatient few who want my TL;DR, here it is. The HP Dev One Notebook PC is, in my book, a virtually flawless piece of hardware for its target demographic.
The screen, keyboard, trackpad, chassis, CPU, speakers. At $1,099 US, it's worth every penny.
And for its stated goals of being a notebook aimed at developers, it's a no-compromises device. It doesn't have any of the superfluous junk that you find in many of its competitors. And aside from a frankly awful webcam and the fact that it could withstand a larger screen and full-sized keyboard, this is a superb laptop. One of the best I've ever had the pleasure of using, in fact.
The inclusion of Pop!_OS here is a match made in heaven. If you're interested in the Dev One, use this link to learn more. You can also watch this video if you're so inclined: