HP Elite Dragonfly review: a beautiful, compact laptop not just for business users

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The HP Elite Dragonfly is making a strong claim to be one of the best Windows laptops of the moment. With a beautifully well-designed chassis, a keyboard that’s a pleasure to type on and a gorgeous display, and some top-tier specs, it’s going to take some beating.

Ostensibly designed for business types, it’s actually a great laptop for anyone – or at least anyone who can afford it, because all of this polish and power doesn’t come cheap. Even at its premium price though, we’d say you’re getting plenty in return for your money.

As Windows has become more versatile, we’ve seen a broader range of devices running the OS: tablets that turn into laptops, 2-in-1s that fold right over, and even dual-screen devices. This is primarily a laptop, but it does double duty as a 2-in-1 if you need it to.

That means the superb-looking display folds right over against the keyboard when necessary. It’s not very practical, but you can use it as a tablet, at a push; you can also prop it up in a tent mode if you want to sit back and enjoy some Netflix or YouTube videos.

HP Elite Dragonfly review: design and screen

(Image credit: Future)

The HP Elite Dragonfly laptop does really well to cram a 13.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) display into a laptop so compact and so light (the base unit tips the scales at just 990 grams or 2.18 pounds). You could comfortably carry this around in one hand for an extended period of time, which isn’t the case with many business-focused laptops we’ve seen before.

That display is bright, vivid and sharp, with bezels you’ll hardly notice: whether you’re ploughing through rows of spreadsheets or watching movies, it’s a fantastic screen. You can ramp up the display to a 4K resolution, if you want (and you have some extra cash to spare). Audio isn’t anything special, but it’ll do for what you need it for, unless you’re thinking about running a small disco with it.

The magnesium-based, dark blue chassis is a joy to look at and to handle, and the typing experience is one of the best we’ve come across too. The trackpad can’t quite match the keyboard in terms of quality and sensitivity, but it’s fine, and everyone who caught a glimpse of the HP Elite Dragonfly laptop while we had it was impressed. The white keyboard backlighting hits the spot as well.

Despite all of this style, the laptop is durable too, passing US military standards for robustness according to HP. Sure, it’s light and sleek, but at the same time you don’t need to be afraid about taking it away from your desk. The fingerprint sensor built into the keyboard gives you another biometric login option besides the Windows Hello facial recognition offered by the webcam (which has its own privacy shutter, by the way).

HP Elite Dragonfly review: specs and features

(Image credit: Future)

You can pick up the HP Elite Dragonfly with a variety of specs on board, but the review laptop we had – Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of internal storage – simply sailed through everything we could throw at it. Unless you’re doing serious gaming or video editing (which you wouldn’t be on a screen this size), the laptop is going to have enough power for you and then some.

If you are keen on using the computer as a tablet (and we found it a bit unwieldy for this), you get a stylus included in the box to give your fingers a rest. You get two USB-A ports, two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, a headphone jack and an HDMI out socket around the sides, an impressive number of expansion ports for something so svelte overall.

There’s even the option for 4G connectivity on the HP Elite Dragonfly, if you slip in a SIM card – that’s another feature that’s sure to appeal to business users, as it means you can stay connected and carry on working while you’re on the train or in the hotel lobby, beyond the range of public Wi-Fi networks (which probably aren’t going to be worth bothering with anyway).

A shout out too for the battery life, which is excellent – we put this through a 12-hour workday and it still had some juice left at the end. It’s not the sort of laptop that’s going to have you hunting for a power brick half way through the afternoon, and if you’re not on it all the time, it’ll last you well into two or three days.

HP Elite Dragonfly review: price and verdict

(Image credit: HP)

We really enjoyed putting the HP Elite Dragonfly through its paces during out testing – it’s a dream to type on, stays very quiet in operation, is easy to carry around, and boasts a display that really stands out (whether you’re scrolling through webpages or zooming in on high-resolution photos).

It’s definitely the looks, the finish and the lightness that make the laptop worthy of your attention, especially when you consider that this is a device aimed primarily at business users. It oozes style and feels premium in use, and then you can add to that the very good specs and the excellent battery life on offer.

There are a few categories where the HP Elite Dragonfly is just good rather than very good – the graphics, the audio, the trackpad – but really these are minor annoyances that don’t detract much from what’s a really good overall package. Anyone who needs a laptop that scores highly for portability should be taking a look at this.

The only other factor that might put some people off is the price: check the widgets on this page for the latest deals, but the HP Elite Dragonfly starts at around £1,600 in the UK for the base spec. That’s going to put it beyond the reach of a certain section of the market, but if this is a laptop within your budget, we’d suggest giving it some serious consideration when it’s time to upgrade.

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