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HP Elite Dragonfly Review: A Laptop So Cool, It Shouldn't Be Whiling Away Beautiful Days In Meetings

By: Vishal Mathur

Last Updated: October 12, 2020, 12:25 IST

HP Elite Dragonfly Review: A Laptop So Cool, It Shouldn't Be Whiling Away Beautiful Days In Meetings

The HP Elite Dragonfly (2020) runs the 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565 vPro processor because 10th generation Comet Lake vPro wasn’t available on laptops when the Elite Dragonfly was launched this summer. They are now though, including on the Asus ExpertBook B9 and that complicates things.

I have said this time and again. Business laptops are generally very boring to look at. There is the assumption that either business laptop buyers don’t have a sense of style or they simply don’t need a chic factor playing a role in the conference room. That is why you have all those dull, drab and dreary black rectangles lined up (some may be dark grey, as if that adds some colour) as very learned people ponder over spreadsheets and graphs, often with no conclusion at the end of that. Mind you, I am not questioning any of the security, privacy and ruggedness credentials that business laptops claim to pack in. but the journey should start with some sense of style and purpose, and they fail on that front. Miserably. But worry not, because there is now a solution at hand for the style bit. The HP Elite Dragonfly (2020). It is a costly solution, but it is all about style and substance.

The HP Elite Dragonfly is available in one variant in India right now. It is powered by the Intel Core i7-8565 vPro processor. You have all the right to claim that this is “just an 8th generation Intel Core processor”, remember that there is a very good reason why the HP Elite Dragonfly (2020) runs the 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565 vPro processor. That is because the 10th generation Comet Lake vPro family wasn’t available on laptops when the Elite Dragonfly was launched earlier this summer. They are now though, and that complicates things. The rest of the spec sheet includes 16GB of RAM and a very fast 1TB SSD as well as Windows 10 Pro 64. All this style, substance and brilliance will cost you Rs 2,19,543.

You Think The HP Elite DragonFly (2020) is expensive?

The HP Elite Dragonfly competes with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 8), that offers the customization option for the 10th generation Intel Core vPro processors. By default, the Intel Corei5-10210U processor powers the ThinkPad X1 Carbon with 16GB RAM, 256GB storage and you need to choose between Windows 10 Home 64 and Windows 10 Pro 64 additionally. Nothing customized and with no Windows 10, prices start Rs 1,41,550. So, we go around with a bit of customization to get the X1 Carbon up to spec with the HP Elite Dragonfly, albeit the different processor generations. So, with the Intel Core i7-10610U vPro processor (that costs an additional Rs 37,500), Windows 10 Pro 64 (that adds Rs 16,000 more) and a 1TB SSD (that’s Rs 16,300 more), a similarly spec-ed Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 comes out to Rs 2,24,900. If you thought the HP Elite Dragonfly was expensive, now you know it isn’t.

That being said, if HP does introduce more variants of the Elite DragonFly (2020), perhaps with an Intel Core i5 processor and maybe 256GB or 512GB storage with lower price tags, the uptake may just be significantly higher at a time when more and more people are splurging on laptops than ever before. It may well have to, now that there is a new kid on the block.

The recently launched and absolutely brilliant Asus ExpertBook B9 (Read review here) gives a fair idea of how business-focused laptops are pushing towards being cool. The Asus ExpertBook B9450 is priced at Rs 1,02,228 onwards in India, while the spec that we reviewed was priced at Rs 1,59,294 at the time—an Intel Core i7 10510U processor, 16GB RAM, a 14-inch Full HD display, fingerprint sensor, number pad integrated within the touchpad and all this in an incredibly slim design that even integrates an Amazon Alexa notification bar.

This Is One Of The Definitions Of Love At First Sight

You look at the HP Elite Dragonfly, you pick it up and you immediately know why HP is charging what it is for this laptop. It is incredibly compact for a 13.3-inch screen size laptop. This weighs just 990 grams and is just 0.63-inch thick (that’s 1.61cm) at its thickest point. Actually, if you drop this in a slightly disorganized backpack that also may be full of files, folders and books, you may actually need to spend a couple of minutes to find this! The HP Elite Dragonfly is just 11.9-inch wide (that’s 30.43-inches) and 7.77-inches tall (that’s 19.75cm). You get an idea of how compact this is. For a 13.3-inch laptop that isn’t compromising on the specs or performance, it is absolutely amazing how HP has managed to pack in everything without giving the HP Elite Dragonfly (2020) any bulk whatsoever. Remember, this is more than 90% magnesium, and not some cheap plastic to save weight.

Let’s go beyond the numbers to check out what else this has as far as the design is concerned. There is no shortage of ports. You get two USB-C ports (that doubles up as Thunderbolt too), an HDMI port, the 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size USB 3.1 Gen 1 port too. No shortage of connectivity options then. Admittedly, there is a lot going on with the HP Elite DragonFly (2020). But does it mean this is compromising on the build quality? The laptop has gone through its share of ruggedness tests, as many as 19 of the MIL-STD 810G tests. They may not mean much to the end user, but what this means is that you can be assured this will handle some amount of rough use or accidental impacts without any problems.

In fact, this is also one of the few laptops out there that has a built-in SIM card slot as well. Particularly relevant in the modern-day work from home scenarios if you have unreliable internet at home and also for business users who travel a lot. No longer do you need to struggle with creating a hotspot on your phone or search for a Wi-Fi network where you are. Leave a SIM card in the laptop and you have the complete 4G connectivity as you work, at home, in office or while traveling. Windows 10 can also automatically switch you to 4G connectivity when you step out of the Wi-Fi zone, which means seamless mobile data all through.

I really like the blue colour. It is very subtle, and changes tone a bit as light bounces off it. In some instances, you may feel this is a black colored laptop. At other times, it looks more like charcoal or carbon. And yet at others, the blue really shines though. The touch screen gets a Corning Gorilla Glass layer for protection and around this display are really slim bezels. And if that isn’t it, this rather petite form factor still packs in four stereo speakers tuned by Bang & Olufsen.

While Caring For The Oceans And Our Environment Too

Last but not least is the environmental aspect too. The Elite Dragonfly uses a substantial volume of post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic including ocean-bound plastics in the construction of certain elements of the notebook. As much as 50% of certain parts of this chassis are made of PCR plastics. HP says this makes it the world’s first laptop to use otherwise ocean-bound plastics.

Performance Is Straight Out Of The Top Drawer

For whatever anyone may say or however much anyone may scoff about the generation of the Intel Core processor, the reality is that the HP Elite DragonFly (2020) offers top notch performance. This machine just breezed through all possible usage scenarios I put this through, which included trying to bog it down with a lot of Google Chrome tabs. So cluttered is my workday as a general rule with browser tabs and Microsoft Word documents left open generously along with iTunes or Spotify streaming music and Canva ready to do image edits, that at any given point of time, my Apple iMac or Apple MacBook Pro (both of which also have 16GB RAM) are using upwards of 75% RAM—that is without Google Chrome on those machines. When replicating that on the HP Elite DragonFly (2020) with the additional resource hogging that Chrome does, this sleek business laptop didn’t at any point feel like it was going to slow down or pause things to take a breath.

What you do hear from time to time is the fan trying to keep things cool in case you really stress the HP Elite DragonFly (2020) resources. But most users don’t indulge in this sort of wastage and clutter in their daily workflow, and they’ll not even hear the fans. The HP Elite DragonFly (2020) is as silent as cat on the prowl for its dinner, most of the time.

Battery life is quite robust as well. With this sort of workload as a daily work machine, the HP Elite DragonFly (2020) lasted 11 hours and 30 minutes before requiring to be charged again. That means you can effectively leave the power adapter at home as and when you do start going to office again. Be a bit more careful with the display brightness and somewhat judicious with the apps and Chrome tabs (switch to Microsoft Edge for even better battery life—we were looking for the more resource hungry usage scenario) and you could even last half of the next day on the same charge. This also has the HP Fast Charge feature which takes the fully discharged battery and juices it up to 50% in 30 minutes. That means upwards of 5.5 hours for most usage scenarios.

Privacy And Security Matters, And It Does

HP has given the Elite DragonFly (2020) a lot of tools in its arsenal which attempt to tackle the privacy and security issues, around your data. First and foremost, if you don’t like people peeping and looking at what is on your laptop’s screen, there is the built-in HP Sure View Gen3 feature built in. Simply enable this using the shortcut key on the keyboard, and it makes the screen completely unreadable to people who may be spying from the side or even behind you. The significantly dimmer display when this mode is activated will only be legible for someone looking straight on. And all this really works—I couldn’t see a thing on the display even from a wider angle and only very few bits here and there just at a slight angle.

Then there is the HP Privacy Camera, which is simply a physical slider to block the front facing camera that you may otherwise use for video calls. If you are worried that an app may be spying on you, simply slide this shutter on, and that’s taken care of. Spies will now just hit a wall of darkness.

The HP Elite DragonFly (2020) gets a fingerprint sensor as well as facial recognition, as part of the HP Multi-Factor Authenticate. A lot of premium laptops don’t have both options for authenticating your identity to access your Windows 10 data, and it is good HP has gone ahead with both.

Virus and malware remain a big problem. The HP Sure Start Gen 5 protects the BIOS of the machine and indeed the firmware from malware that can paralyze your PC. This is also a self-healing BIOS which can correct any errors that may creep in because of a failed attack, for instance. And as you use the HP Elite DragonFly (2020), the HP Sure Sense works in the background, with its deep learning algorithms to identify any new strains of virus or malware and quarantine any suspects before they may be able to wreak havoc on your data.

HP Doesn’t Try Anything With The Display, And That Is The Best Possible Upgrade

I have often made my opinion clear about display in laptops. The Full HD resolution is more than enough because it is the ideal balance between the visual experience and lighting up individual pixels which drains the battery life. The HP Elite DragonFly (2020) has a 13.3-inch display with the Full HD resolution, which pretty much hits the sweet spot with brightness and colour. This is a very bright display as you toggle the illumination of this screen, and that’ll be handy if you have irritating overhead lights in office. The colors that this display reproduces are also top notch, and quite vivid too. All in all, this is a great screen to have on a compact laptop.

This is a touchscreen which you may or may not use often. I honestly don’t like the jarring transition between the physical interface of keyboard and a touchpad and a touch interface and like to stick with the former combination as a habit. That being said, if you do use the touch, fingerprints do tend to stick around a bit more than you’d like. Keep a soft cleaning cloth handy.

This Proves A Compact Footprint Does Not Mean You Have To Mess The Keyboard

I am delighted to report that even though there has been a significant reduction in the footprint, the typical HP keyboard typing experience remains intact. The key size, spacing and layout remain the same as pretty much any other HP laptop with a 13.3-inch or 14-inch screen size. And that means I still got the typing experience very similar to an Apple MacBook Pro 13, and that is perhaps the biggest complement I could have given the HP Elite DragonFly’s keyboard.

You will notice some rather neat shortcut keys sharing space with the Function (Fn) keys. The privacy filter for the display, turning off the laptop’s microphone, quick access for the Windows Calendar app and connecting or disconnecting a VoIP call are some of the customized that you will use more often than not, as work from home continues and video calls on Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams continues to be the norm.

The Last Word: Don’t Fight It. You Really Like It

It is very clear that the HP Elite DragonFly (2020) is adding that much needed luxury and style element to the drab word of business laptops that have absolutely no personality. And while most people may not need it, yet you’d probably now want it. This is the sort of laptop that shaves a large chunk of the bulk off, and you’d love carrying it around. And while at it, you’ll probably be asked by quite a few people about it. Putting the bulky business laptops to shame. Performance, design and utility are all ticked off on the checklist. Now it is all about counting the pennies. In case your company isn’t buying one for you.

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