PC

HP Elite Dragonfly: Sleek laptop with good battery life, work-friendly features

The HP Elite Dragonfly is, by far, the best-looking business notebook I have seen.

Clad in an iridescent blue finish instead of the usual silver or black, it looks like something from HP's premium Spectre notebook series.

Equally impressive is its pristine appearance after a week's usage, untainted by fingerprints and other smudges, thanks to an oleophobic coating on its exterior that resists dirt.

The Dragonfly is relatively sleek for a two-in-one convertible that can transform between tablet and clamshell forms. At around 1kg, it is also highly portable, thanks to a magnesium chassis.

But while other magnesium notebooks usually seem fragile and exhibit a good amount of flex, the HP is almost as sturdy as aluminium-clad notebooks. In fact, HP says the laptop is very durable, having undergone several military standard tests, including being dropped and subjected to extreme temperatures.

The Dragonfly does not disappoint when it comes to the security features critical to its business audience.

For starters, it has a built-in privacy screen, dubbed HP Sure View, that severely restricts the viewing angle of the display when enabled, so only the person in front of it can see its contents.

Turning the privacy filter on or off is as easy as pressing a keyboard shortcut. It works extremely well to deter prying eyes.

But this screen, even with the privacy feature disabled, does not offer the best viewing experience because it is very reflective.

The good news is that the screen can be adjusted to be very bright (up to 1,000 nits), which helps to mitigate its overly reflective nature.

On the other hand, setting the screen to its maximum brightness will affect its battery life.

Another useful privacy feature is a physical shutter cover that blocks the front Web camera. With this simple yet effective scheme, even if the camera software has been compromised by malware, the camera cannot be used to spy on users.

  • FOR

    • Chic premium business laptop

    • Chock-full of secure, business-friendly features

    • Outstanding, all-day battery life

    • Excellent connectivity options

  • AGAINST

    • An 8th instead of 10th-generation Intel processor

    • Screen is very reflective even with privacy filter disabled

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $2,699

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-8265U (1.6GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel UHD Graphics 620

    RAM: 8GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI, headphone jack

    BATTERY: 56 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4.5/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4.5/5

I was initially surprised that the Dragonfly offers two biometric authentication methods - face and fingerprint. But this makes sense as the fingerprint sensor - below the arrow keys - is less accessible when using the laptop in tent mode (with the keyboard face down on the desk).

The laptop also comes with security features that protect users against malware attacks by securing the Bios or firmware as well as detecting potential malware through the use of artificial intelligence.

Despite its slim profile, the laptop has sufficient ports to satisfy most users.

Besides two versatile and fast Thunderbolt 3 ports, it comes with an HDMI port and a USB Type-A port so you do not have to carry around dongles or adaptors.

Its wireless connectivity options are excellent too. It supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard (802.11ax), with an optional LTE feature for those who need to be connected all the time.

Surprisingly for a business computer, the Dragonfly is not lacking in the audio department. It boasts four speakers from Bang & Olufsen - two flanking the keyboard and two at the front lip. They sound relatively loud and clear, though the bass is underwhelming.

Despite its premium price tag ($2,699), my review set is only mid-tier when it comes to its computing hardware. It has 8GB of system memory, which I consider the bare minimum nowadays.

Meanwhile, its Core i5 chip belongs to Intel's 8th-instead of the latest 10th-generation processor series, which is slightly disappointing.

HP does offer a higher-end version ($3,319) with an Intel Core i7 chip, 16GB of system memory and a 1TB solid-state drive. This model comes with an LTE module for Internet on the go.

I was sceptical when HP says the Dragonfly has the world's longest battery life for a 13-inch business convertible.

But with an uptime of nine hours and 52 minutes in the video-loop battery test (at maximum screen brightness and volume), it certainly blew me away with its battery stamina.

Its battery life, coupled with the premium and lightweight build, excellent connectivity options and business-friendly features, makes the HP Elite Dragonfly one of the best laptops you can buy now.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2020, with the headline 'Sleek laptop with good battery life, work-friendly features'. Print Edition | Subscribe