"The HP Elite Dragonfly is light and sleek, and almost too sleek to be a pure business laptop."
Perfect size for on the go
Many security functions
Incredible battery life
Great port selection
The keyboard feels tight
This review was updated on May 6, 2020 by Digital Trends author Mark Coppock with the new functions Tile and Sure View Reflect.
You get on your six-hour flight with the ambitious goal of getting some work done. You are prepared. You have a laptop A charger. They are even willing to pay for the expensive in-flight WiFi. It's time to get it. Job. Done.
Six hours later, you barely managed to open your laptop.
It's not easy to mess around with the charger under your seat, fight for freedom of movement with your fellow travelers, and try to stuff a laptop on an airplane tray. And if you pack a chunky "business laptop" it's almost impossible.
HP finds it new Elite Dragonfly is the solution. The company claims to have the security features business people need without the stereotypical design issues. Is this $ 2,079 business laptop worth a first-class trip?
A suitable travel partner
The dragonfly was developed from the ground up for your work on the go. At 2.2 pounds, it's significantly lighter than laptops like the XPS 13, HP Specter x360, and MacBook Air. HP says it relieves every element of the laptop to make it so light without losing structural integrity. Even a super-light business laptop like the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is 0.8 pounds heavier.
This effort was really worth it. Put it in your backpack or briefcase and you will barely notice the extra weight as you run through the airport trying to find your gate. It is a tiny laptop. However, the strong navy color, the golden decorations and the sharp edges go perfectly with your suit and your wristwatch. It is downright decadent.
Holding with one hand as a tablet is still out of the question due to its size.
If you take a seat and whip the dragonfly out to work, it fits well on your tray table. The total space requirement is quite small, so it may even work in economy class. This is another area that the dragonfly has over its rivals. It is the size of the XPS 13, but is three quarters of an inch smaller in height and width than the X1 Yoga. When you are in a confined space like an airplane, every millimeter counts.
For a better view, you can flip the keyboard over to record or watch movies. The use of tablets is possible, but uncomfortable like other 2-in-1 devices of this size. It's just a little big and a little too heavy.
The dragonfly's screen is next to the XPS 13 2-in-1 and looks a bit dated. The bezels are not massive, but a little bulky in addition to the larger 16:10 screen of the XPS 13 2-in-1. The new Specter x360 also has smaller bezels, and I wish they had found their way to the dragonfly. The 1080p screen isn't as impressive as the high-contrast, insanely bright XPS 13 2-in-1. A 4K version is available for better image quality, but is currently not available.
We also tested HP's latest privacy screen, Sure View Reflect. It is the 4th generation of the company's technology that makes the screen invisible from a certain angle. This means that no one but you can see your display unless they are right behind you. In the release mode, ie when the Sure View Reflect function is deactivated, the display is very bright and offers a lot of contrast as well as an accurate color width and accuracy. It is a good ad for productivity users. When you're in privacy mode and Sure View Reflect is turned on, brightness, contrast, and colors drop, but it works as intended. The display is provided with a copper coating, which makes it illegible from the sides.
A small laptop means a small keyboard
The size of the frames (and the size of the keyboard deck) enables a sufficiently large touchpad for tracking and gestures. The glass is smooth and the click mechanism is quiet.
However, the small footprint has a compromise on the keyboard width. It's a little tight, especially in the function line, which is about small buttons that can be easily accidentally pressed. HP went one step further and tried to place a pair of upward-facing speakers directly on the keyboard deck.
I would normally welcome such a choice, but in this case I would have preferred a larger keyboard like the X1 Yoga. This is especially true since the speakers still don't sound good here.
Fortunately, typing is fun. The keystrokes have enough travel (especially compared to the XPS 13 2-in-1 or MacBook Pro) and are quiet enough not to wake up the person sleeping next to you on the plane.
The included pen is a lightweight pen that feels good in your hand and can be charged via USB-C. With 4,096 sensitivity levels, it is perfect for notation and illustration. The only problem is that there is no case or way to attach it to the laptop. You have to rely on your own devices to have the pen with you. When you're on the go, this can be problematic.
Portable, all-day work and integrated tile support
When you arrive at your destination, the dragonfly has many tricks to meet your computer needs. Port selection is a good place to start. Despite its thickness of just 0.63 inches, HP has both a full-size USB-A and HDMI connector. Neither is so common with laptops as thin as laptops like the XPS 13 go all-in on USB-C.
The Dragonfly has a USB-C 3.1 and a Thunderbolt 3 port for your modern accessories and ports, but gives you options for the older ports that are still useful. They are the key to those moments when you show up at a meeting, are confused by a day of travel and need to be connected to a TV or monitor via HDMI. It also means that you can leave most of your dongles at home.
However, the HP Elite Dragonfly is slightly behind Lenovo X1 Yoga. This laptop offers two USB-C 3.1 / Thunderbolt 3 and two USB-A 3.1 and HDMI 1.4.
If it's a short trip (or you're feeling brave), dare to leave your charger at home too. The dragonfly's battery life is so good. It took just under 10½ hours to surf the Internet, which means that you do well over an entire working day. Your coast to coast flight is covered, whether you're working or catching up with The Mandalorian. The Sure View Reflect display does not affect battery life either.
I was a little annoyed by the power switch, which is right next to the connectors on the left. There are many accidental presses when the laptop is picked up or simply moved. While it makes sense to use the 2-in-1 device as a tablet, as mentioned earlier, the size of the dragonfly means that the use of tablets is not ideal.
In 2020, HP added built-in Tile support so users can now find their laptop using the Tile app. The Tile circuit is integrated and is specially slid into the M.2 slot, which is normally used for the optional LTE support. This means that it is Tile or LTE, but not both. Tile works well even when the laptop is turned off. You can at least see where you were last connected to the laptop via Bluetooth. If you are lucky, someone is within range with the Tile app and you can see the location of the laptop in real time. It's a great feature for anyone who is worried about leaving their laptop behind.
When business functions are a problem
HP is proud of the security features built into the level. It has a fingerprint scanner, Windows Hello face recognition, a physical camera cover, suppressed noise cancellation for Skype calls, an extended WiFi range and three microphones (two facing, one "world" face). These are all touches that business users will appreciate.
However, it goes deeper. HP Sure Start is also included for secure boot and BIOS protection. HP even sells a separate model with its darkened Sure View screen for more privacy when traveling.
This is not just software. The HP Endpoint Security Controller is on the board. According to HP, it is isolated and cryptographically secure. There's more to it than just a business-first laptop like the ThinkPad X1.
We all want our computers to be secure, but that's probably more than what the average person needs. In some cases, the security suite feels like bloatware, especially if you want to use third-party software to protect against malware. However, HP security will make IT managers happy, and that's what the company is counting on.
Performance is … ok. The use of 8th generation Intel processors is unfortunate. It's not HP's fault, of course. Intel does not yet support vPro in its latest processor generations. This is (among other things) an important tool for IT departments and remote management.
It's the same problem you find in other business laptops like the Latitude series from Dell or the ThinkPad T series. Note that the cheaper Intel Core i5 Dragonfly does not have a vPro for $ 1,629, so you will lose the performance boost of newer processors without the benefits.
HP has decided to play it safe with the dragonfly. You will probably not notice a drop in performance compared to the XPS 13 2-in-1 or Specter x360, especially not with Dragonfly's 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD and 32 GB Intel Optane Memory H10. However, it damages the longevity of the laptop and lets you question the high price.
The dragonfly is ideal for business people who value security, portability and build quality. The dragonfly will make this person happy, especially if their employer pays the bill.
If you're someone else, you'll wonder why the laptop is so small, won't turn on quickly, or doesn't have the latest generation processors. Despite trying to impress a wider audience, the level of functionality of the dragonfly means that it is still best for a very specific user.
Are there alternatives?
The closest alternative is the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, which is a few hundred dollars cheaper. The Yoga also includes options for a wider range of configurations, including 4K panels and 10th generation processors. However, it is not as portable as the dragonfly.
The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is also a great alternative with its ultra-thin bezels and numerous security features. For a similar configuration, the Latitude is $ 100 more expensive and not quite as small as the Dragonfly.
Non-business options like HP Specter x360 or XPS 13 2-in-1 are awesome, although you lack many of the security features you may need.
How long it will take?
The dragonfly comes with an excellent three-year warranty that will be attractive to businesses. Apart from accidents, the laptop should last as long because of its hardware and excellent build quality. You can even add an additional HP CarePack for advanced repair and replacement services.
Should you buy it
Yes. Those outside the business world shouldn't cross, but for the right person, the dragonfly is the perfect travel companion.