HP Elite Dragonfly hands-on review

HP's Elite Dragonfly review: Too sleek to save for business only

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HP Elite Dragonfly hands-on

“Lightweight and stylish, the HP Elite Dragonfly is almost too sleek to be considered purely a business laptop.”
  • Lightweight yet sturdy design
  • Extremely bright display options
  • Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
  • Lots of security features
  • Launching with older processors
  • Expensive

The HP Spectre x360 is the crown jewel of HP’s laptops, and it’s long been one of our favorite laptops. But HP has more up to its sleeve than just Spectres.

Enter the new HP Elite Dragonfly. While technically a business laptop, you don’t have to be a CEO to appreciate its stylings — or its peculiar name. Holding the CNC-machined magnesium, outfitted in a stylish blue finish and weighing in at 2.2 pounds, it was the most jealous for a business laptop I’ve ever been.

Lighter than Air?

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The first thing I noticed with the Dragonfly was its portability. As it was handed to me, I immediately felt how light this new 2-in-1 truly is. At 2.2. pounds, the Dragonfly is easier to hold in one hand than the MacBook Air and XPS 13 (2.7 pounds.) It’s even lighter than the Spectre x360, which is just shy of three pounds.

In fact, it’s so light, that I assumed it was made of plastic. But it’s not.

To accomplish this lightness, the Dragonfly sports an alloy magnesium chassis, which HP claims can be lighter than the aluminum typically used in other 2-in-1s. There might not be the fancy “gem cuts” like with the Spectre x360, but each of the individual surfaces on the Dragonfly is custom designed and cut on a CNC machine.

It is also MIL-STD 810G military spec, with HP putting it through 120,000 hours of testing on the hinges and other areas of the device. This should mean the Dragonfly is build to last.

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There’s also the same diamond-cut accents from the Spectre x360 running along the sides, for added integrity and rigidity. When I pushed down on the keyboard and turned the lid, there was no flexing or bending.

I jammed out sentences quickly thanks to the near-perfect, square-shaped keycaps.

The device is then topped with a “Dragonfly Blue”-colored oleophobic coating, which resists dust and fingerprints. I’ve never seen this color laptop before, and it’s visually stunning. It’s almost like a magic trick, with the laptop appearing black in dimly lit areas, but blue in the light. The coating is also something to be appreciated, as matte consumer laptops like the Razer Blade Stealth or even ThinkPads can be fingerprint magnets.

Despite the weight, typing on the Dragonfly is also pleasing, as HP claims the keyboard deck is 32% lighter, with the backlit keyboard itself being 26% lighter than the EliteBook x360 1030 G3.

I jammed out sentences quickly thanks to the near-perfect, square-shaped keycaps. Though it was hard to judge in the crowded showroom floor, HP promises the keyboard is twice as quiet as before. The glass touchpad is larger than on the Spectre x360 and provided solid clicks when navigating through Windows.

A 1,000-nit display? Hold on there

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The weight isn’t the Dragonfly’s only jaw-dropping spec. HP also claims the laptop’s display can go up to 1,000 nits in brightness. If that sounds like overkill, that’s because it is. Even 4K OLED displays usually max out at around 500 nits. It’s hard to imagine the need for a laptop screen to be twice that bright.

Yet HP has done it anyways. I can’t blame them — it’s an eye-catching spec, and if you were in direct sunlight, it could be useful. In person, the laptop was, indeed, bright. I’ll need to do more testing in the future with a trusty colorimeter to get a better idea of the display’s image quality.

In addition to this 1080p 1,000-nit screen, HP also offers a 400-nit 1080p and a 4K 550-nit model.

Regardless of which screen you choose, it comes with thin 0.19-inch side bezels. That has been one of the primary complaints against HP laptops in the past, so I’m happy to see slimmer bezels come to the Dragonfly.

No 10th-gen under the hood — yet

As great as the Dragonfly sounds, there is one glaring flaw. Currently, HP is launching the Dragonfly with Intel’s 8th generation U-series vPro processors and 16GB or 8GB of RAM. Other new devices are launching with Intel’s 10th-gen processors, but according to HP, for business professionals and commercial users, the 8th-gen processors are apparently the best.

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The Intel Core i7-8665 vPro is still a quad-core processor with plenty of performance for everyday business tasks. However, seeing a device launched in 2019 with an 8th-gen processor is disappointing.

When asked why 10th-gen was skipped, Intel stated that it believes 8th-gen vPro holds the best technologies needed for an enterprise-grade PC. They worked extensively with HP on BIOS security and recovery features, and these vPro processors have everything needed for IT departments to remotely manage, erase, diagnose and update a PC.

“This is an enterprise-grade PC, so it required the business validation, and enabling and security work that we do with vPro. The 10th gen is not yet ready on the vPro firmware. It takes additional firmware, software, and BIOS work. That will happen early next year. Right now, the best enterprise-grade PCs are on the 8th gen,” said Stephanie Halford, Vice President & General Manager, Business Client Platforms at Intel.

Models with 10th-gen Intel vPro processors could be on the way soon, depending on HP’s scheduling.

Built to last, and balance work and life

Despite the striking name, the Dragonfly does come with a number of business-specific features. One of these is HP’s pre-installed Workwell software, which provides personalized recommendations and promotes well-being at work and coaches users with recommended breaks and activities.

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But, that’s not all. Much like consumer laptops like the XPS 13, HP is claiming that the Dragonfly packs big battery life. There’s up to 24.5 hours promised with a performance battery, and 16.5 hours with the lightweight battery.

That would put it ahead of clamshells like XPS 13 (13.5 hours,) and even similar convertible Always Connected PCs like the Samsung Galaxy Book 2.  More testing is needed, but in my brief hour with the Dragonfly, the battery only dropped roughly 1%. I can see this as the laptop for the business folk who are always out and about.

Businesspeople should also appreciate the diverse port selection too. The Dragonfly includes two USB-C ports (Thunderbolt 3 compatible), a USB-A port, as well as HDMI and a headphone jack.

Similar to Lenovo’s ThinkShutter, other security features include HP’s Privacy Camera, which lets you flip a slider on the top of the device to disable and hide the webcam. That ties in with HP’s optional SureView screen, which, at the touch of a button, can reduce the light so that the screen is hard to read from side.

The HP Dragonfly doesn’t look like a standard business laptop — and I mean that as a compliment.

There are also enterprise security features built-in, such as HP’s Endpoint Security Controller, HP SureSense Fingerprint reader, and an integrated Windows Hello webcam on the top for logins.

HP’s SureSense technology can also defend the device against malware with the power of artificial intelligence. And, with HP SureRecover, users can reimage and recover the Dragonfly, anytime something goes wrong.

A pricey endeavor

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The HP Dragonfly doesn’t look like a standard business laptop — and I mean that as a compliment. More testing is needed, but with its thin and light design, bright and slim display, plus security features that businesses need, it could end up being a go-to choice for people who don’t want to give up sleek design for business features.

HP will launch the Elite Dragonfly later in October for prices starting at $1,549. A leather cover and Wacom pen is also an optional purchase.

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