03 Feb HP Elite Dragonfly Four-Week Review: Enterprise IT Meets Consumer
This holiday season and throughout CES 2020, I tested out HP’s newest laptop in its Elite lineup, the HP Elite Dragonfly. The Elite series is HP’s premium business-class lineup of notebooks. HP revealed its newest lineup of Elite laptops at Computex last year in July, with the Elite Dragonfly being released a couple of months later in September. The Dragonfly is HP’s take on a lightweight-premium looking business notebook. I have been using HP Elite Dragonfly for the past 4 weeks, and I wanted to share my experience.
Build quality and battery life
For a business laptop, the HP Elite Dragonfly is one of the sleekest looking notebooks. Business laptops usually are not out to be sleek because durability always comes first and usually brings along meekness to its look. However, the Dragonfly looks premium and appealing without compromising its MILSPEC tested durability. The chassis is made from CNC machined magnesium and has an oleophobic coating on top of its “dragonfly” blue. All of which contribute to passing 19 MILSPEC-810G tests. The durability and the lightweight aspect of the notebook make for a worthy travel companion and a well-spent investment in terms of longevity.
When considering the HP Elite Dragonfly over HP’s other Elite notebooks, a factor to keep in mind is just how absurdly light this notebook is at 2.2 lbs or less than 1KG. The EliteBook x360, HP’s other convertible business notebooks, weighs in at about half a pound more than the Elite Dragonfly. That comparison is with the upgraded battery as well, adding .3 lbs to the notebook.
The keyboard and trackpad are also made to be lighter and are different than other Elite notebooks. The keys are noticeably quiet and feel slightly cramped next to the side speakers. Overall, the trackpad was pleasant to use. You could tell the speakers were not made to watch movies or media, but instead for business calls and the like. With that being said, they look good sitting next to the keyboard. The one thing I wish HP would change about the keyboard is to put the PrtScn button back on top with the function keys. I had to use three fingers to do a screenshot and I could never remember if I was supposed to hit the Ctrl, Fn, or Windows key to take a pic. There was an extra function key without labeling that could have been used.
HP included the same display options as it did with its other Elite series laptops. The starting model uses HP’s 1W display with the option to upgrade to HP’s SureView 1000 nit brightness privacy display or HP’s 4K display. All three displays cater to a different workflow. The 1W display is excellent for companies that are interested in buying the laptop in bulk. It is best in value in terms of battery life for those who do not need a bright privacy screen or a higher resolution display. In situations where customization is preferred, the 1000 nit privacy screen is convenient for working outside and on the go. Keep in mind that the upgraded displays are guaranteed to take a considerable hit on battery life. The Dragonfly 2-in-1 also has smaller bezels than the Spectre x360s in the EliteBook lineup at 86% screen to body ratio. That isn’t as thin of bezels as other business notebooks such as Dell’s XPS 13, but I do like that the Dragonfly still has the webcam and IR camera for Windows Hello sitting at the top.
The Upgraded displays are only available with the 4-cell 56 Whr upgraded battery. The starting model comes with a 2-cell 38 Whr battery that claims to get 15 to 24 hours. Which means that the laptop does get heavier but doesn’t take as much of a battery life hit with the display upgrades. Under my workflow, I was able to get around 6 to 8 hours of real battery life, which is around average for a 13-inch laptop, but still impressive when considering its weight. The Elite Dragonfly also has fast charging that gets the laptop to around 5 more hours of use on a 30-minute charge. There was never a time when I was worried about battery life in the office or when I was traveling.
The HP Elite Dragonfly has an 8th Gen Intel Core processor supporting Vpro with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 2 TB of storage. One option for the storage is Intel’s Optane SSD at 512GB. The Elite Dragonfly also has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5, as well as the option of gigabit LTE. It can be configured to have LTE CAT 9 or CAT 16 and makes for an excellent always-connected PC. I used a CAT 16 system and I had a very good experience. I slid in AT&T and T-Mobile SIMs and had it working in seconds. It was a good mobile performer, too, which I attribute to the 4×4 MIMO design. The new SIM tray didn’t swallow my SIM card either, which is a big improvement from other HP laptops I have used.
The HP Dragonfly has a favorable choice of ports. It has 2 USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, full HDMI port, audio jack on the right side and a USB-A port, Kensington lock, power button, and SIM card slot on the left. I never had to carry around a dongle as I would an Apple MacBook. It’s crazy (in a good way) that HP, in such a thin chassis, fit a full-sized USB and HDMI. Enterprises love that stuff.
I wish the USBC ports were on the left-hand side of the system and further back because I would hit the cables on the right-hand side of the system if I were using a mouse.
Privacy and security
As I mentioned before, the Elite Dragonfly has an infrared camera for Windows Hello. Using the top camera on the thin bezel, Windows Hello securely and conveniently allows access to the Elite Dragonfly and other Windows Hello access points. HP put a physical webcam privacy switch for the Infrared camera, and the webcam like it. These physical switches are something we see on other Elite series business laptops and I am pleased to see HP found room on top to put them. It is a forgettable feature that is there when you need it. The Dragonfly also has a fingerprint sensor below the arrow keys that worked without any hiccups.
The 8th Gen Intel Core processor is a vPro processor with increased security and manageability. vPro is a favorite for businesses but most likely the reason the Elite Dragonfly missed out on getting a 10th Gen Intel Core processor. As we saw the new Elite series get HP’s Sure Sense security feature back in June, the Dragonfly has the same security feature. HP’s SureSense uses deep learning AI to identify hidden attacks to defend your device. HP has other Sure security such as Sure Click, Sure Start, Sure Run, and Sure Recover. All of which protect your device, maintain your antivirus and malware protect, and secure your BIOS and operating system.
HP added a sleek and lightweight new laptop to its Elite business class lineup. The HP Dragonfly packs a punch with all-day battery life, 8th Gen Intel Core processor with vPro, multitude of ports with no need for dongles, and LTE A Pro with 4×4 MIMO. The security of the laptop is backed by a multitude of physical security and privacy features, as well as HP’s Sure lineup of security that gives it enterprise-grade security. If HP were ever to go after the gig-economy crowd, it’ll need to up its packaging game as there were a lot of plastic bags and twist ties that consumers don’t expect on an expensive platform. There were more OOBE software interruptions, as well.
Overall, my experience with the HP Elite Dragonfly has been a very productive and positive one.