Hands-on: HP Elite Dragonfly

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This article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of CRN magazine.

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Hands-on: HP Elite Dragonfly

REVIEW  |  The HP Elite Dragonfly is one of the most impressive portables on the market. As a tool for travelling professionals, it has few flaws but the design ensures it will have some serious crossover appeal.

The design is without doubt the best feature of the Dragonfly. The blue colour is quite eye-catching while the thin bezel and magnesium chassis impresses on closer inspection.

Thanks to the magnesium chassis, the Dragonfly weighs under a kilogram. This combined with the small footprint makes it extremely portable. HP also managed to shrink the bezels, resulting in an 86 percent screen to body ratio. There are thinner bezels on the market, but not many.

The one real drawback of the device is the first thing we looked at, compute power and storage.
Australia seems to have received a more limited range of pre-configured systems whereas in the US and UK there are customisations available.

The base model costs $2770 which is steep for the hardware contained. It sports an eighth gen Intel i5-8265U processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD.

The model we reviewed will set you back $3395, but that gets you the i5-8365U chip and 16GB of RAM. If you go for the top-spec on sale in Australia, you get an upgrade to the i7 and 1TB of storage but expect to pay as much as $4210. You also get a 4K display in the top model.

Having said that, this laptop is targeted almost exclusively to traveling professionals and so the price makes a little more sense. HP have spent money on features which will have the most appeal in its demographic.

Features


The big feature of the Dragonfly is the 4G compatibility, which is a must for the Dragonfly’s target audience. We experienced no noticeable connectivity issues in our usage, accept for certain spots with limited coverage.

HP also designed the Dragonfly to integrate easily with IT departments so the security on the device is comprehensive. In booting it uses HP’s Sure Start technology, which means even if the computer is compromised, the data can still be retrieved. The solution is so advanced that if the BIOS is wiped, the feature will overwrite whatever actions were performed.

The camera has security features too, it supports Windows Hello and there is a physical shutter that covers the lens, so that even if someone accesses the webcam, they can see nothing if you have this closed.

Also included is a fingerprint scanner for an added layer of security, which is nice because we found you needed to move quite close to the camera to activate Windows Hello.

The keyboard is also worth a special mention. It is a joy to work on. The key sizing is ample even for those with larger fingers and the key travel is set in such a way that makes working on the device far more enjoyable than many other 13” devices we have used. This is often the deciding factor for power users and HP has certainly delivered.


The output situation is solid on the Dragonfly with full sized HDMI, two Thunderbolt USB Type-C, one USB 3.1 Gen 1, headphone/mic jack, and a nano SIM slot. Ethernet is available through the included adapter.

When working in a home office, using a monitor with your device is almost mandatory so the full-sized HDMI is a big plus. We can forgive the lack of an ethernet port for the reduced footprint and lightness.

The battery life is another impressive feature of the Dragonfly. We were able to get considerable usage out of it. Under reasonable use (email, web browsing, video and audio consumption) we were able to go days between charges.

An oleophobic coating keeps the laptop mostly free of fingerprints or stains and makes the device very easy to keep clean.

The screen in our model is a 33.8 cm (13.3”) IPS 1080p display at 400 nits, and while it’s not the 4K option in the pricier model, it was still more than adequate for our usage. While watching movies or YouTube we got a great picture at all but the most acute angles.

The speakers are another great feature. Bang and Olufsen tech is used and the sound is excellent. The best part is that they are not hidden on the bottom of the device but skirt the keyboard so the sound is not bounced and distorted by the surface you rest it on.

As a companion for someone who travels regularly, the Dragonfly is a great choice for a laptop let alone a 2-in-1. While the specs let it down compared to some competitors, the combination of features and design put it in a class of its own.

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