The HP Elite Dragonfly is a svelte, sophisticated ultrabook that excels in a bustling boardroom or on a flight. More often than not, you'll have to choose between fashion and function when selecting the best laptops for you. If you're set on something for both work and play, you tend to have to pay extortionate sums... until now. The HP Elite Dragonfly's thin, light build doesn't hinder its performance nor its impressive speakers, and even the fast-charging battery on the base model will keep you working long enough to keep that charger stowed.
You'll have to pay for the privilege, however. It's hardly cheap, and is perhaps a little pricey based on the internals it's packing, but the $1629 base cost is hardly huge for a premium business-class 2-in-1. And with myriad connectivity and security features to ensure your work remains undisturbed, the HP Elite Dragonfly poses a serious challenge to the likes of the Dell XPS 13 and Huawei Matebook 13.
CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7
Memory: 16GB LPDDR3 (2,133MHz)
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 13.3-inch, FHD (1920 x 1080)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, 1 x USB 3.1 A, Audio out, HDMI out, Ethernet, Nano SIM slot.
Dimensions: 11.98" x 7.78" x 0.63"
Weight: Starting at 2.2 lbs
Operating System: Windows 10
HP Elite Dragonfly review: Design
- Light, thin, and sturdy
- Striking 'Dragonfly Blue' finish resists fingerprints
- Quiet, satisfying keyboard
The Elite Dragonfly doesn't have the word 'Elitebook' on it for nothing: this is an impressively attractive laptop. Its plush dark blue coloring stands out among the many identikit black computers you often see in a typical work space. What's more, its oleophobic (oil-resistant) coating means fingerprints and stains won't take the shine off that fine finish.
It's also surprisingly sturdy despite its slight build. Its 2.2lb (0.99kg) chassis combined with a compact surface area - 11.98-inches wide, 0.63-inches thick - means it's easy to pack into a handbag or luggage. However, going for a model with a larger battery does add weight.
But that doesn't mean you're forced to suffer a small screen: the 13.3" display surrounded by ultra-thin bezels means this ultrabook has a whopping 86% screen-to-body ratio. The base 1080p panel can be upgraded to 4K, or with increased brightness. There's also the optional addition of HP Sure View tech, a privacy feature which darkens the screen to any peeping toms beside you.
Speaking of security, if your computer is hacked, HP Sure Start means that you'll be able to recover your data and the HP Privacy Camera shutters your webcam. Such features are worthwhile for peace of mind, especially if you're working with sensitive information.
Despite the laptop's thinness, there's more depth in the keyboard than you'll get from the shallow 'Butterfly' mechanism on newer Apple MacBooks, like the MacBook Pro 2019. Each key is tactile and satisfying to use, which is nice for extended work sessions. It's also quiet enough not to disturb fellow travelers. Plus, HP claims that the (albeit minimal) noise the keyboard generates is factored into the onboard mic, so you can type away during a video meeting, if necessary.
HP is known for great speakers, and the Dragonfly Elite is no exception. It's not easy for devices as slim as this to emit decent sound, but while you'll get better sound by pairing it with a decent pair of headphones, these speakers still do a decent job if you're showing video content to a boardroom, for example.
Professionals also get the port selection they need: there are HDMI, 3.5mm audio, and two Thunderbolt ports on the right edge, and a USB 3.1 and power button on the left - plus a nano sim slot for LTE support.
HP Elite Dragonfly review: Performance
So, here's a bit of a catch: this isn't the fastest ultrabook on the market, but it's still no slouch. 16GB RAM is plenty of memory, so you can essentially have as many Chrome tabs open as you like with the HP Elite Dragonfly breezing through the rest of your workflow.
That said, this is still an ultrabook, so don't expect the Dragonfly to take every form of work in its stride. It'll struggle with more intensive tasks like video editing and gaming.
HP Elite Dragonfly review: Battery Life
With any portable device, you never want to always be tied to a charger. Thankfully the strong battery in the HP Elite Dragonfly means you won't have to. HP claim that it'll last 16 hours on the base model and 24.5 on the larger battery.
Of course that depends on the nature and intensity of your use, but in TechRadar's movie test (1080p video on a loop) the ultrabook lasted a still handy eight hours and 11 minutes. That's enough for a decent Disney Plus session, and in the event you do run out of juice, you can recharge half the battery in 30 minutes.
HP Elite Dragonfly review: Price
For the $1629 / £1618 base model, you're paying for the premium features of the HP Elite Dragonfly. With the internals of the device in mind, perhaps the starting cost is a touch much, but it really is a device that's more than the sum of its parts.
Nevertheless, it does come in a range of configurations if you're willing to pay more. These add more fast storage, faster processors, and a 4K screen. There are more options on the US side than in the UK, however, so the highest-specced models in each territory will run you $3258 and £1950, respectively.
Should I buy the HP Elite Dragonfly?
The HP Elite Dragonfly is a near-perfect 2-in-1 ultrabook for work and play, although it's mostly aimed at professionals who want painless portability. It's slim, light chassis doesn't stop it from having great speakers, powerful internals, a delightful keyboard, and an all-day fast-charging battery, either.
It's an excellent all-rounder that works just as well as some of the best laptops for college as it does the traveling professional who appreciates reliable security features. The Dell XPS 13 and Huawei Matebook 13 are both substantially cheaper, but as the best ultrabook available right now, the HP Elite Dragonfly is worth every penny.