HP Elite Dragonfly review: A gorgeous do-it-all Ultrabook with some early rough edges

HP's Elite Dragonfly is an awesome first step to making the perfect business convertible laptop, but a few teething issues keep it from being great, especially the 4G LTE.

Hp Elite Dragonfly Review Presentation Mode
(Image: © Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

The HP Elite Dragonfly was announced in late 2019 as a new Ultrabook built for the discerning business user who also wants an excellent all-around laptop. On paper, there's a lot to like about the Dragonfly because it seemingly does everything. It's a convertible, supports inking, has quad-speakers, an oleophobic outer layer, and optionally supports 4G LTE.

However, my review has taken much longer than anticipated. Part of that is because the Dragonfly has a few rough edges on it that keep me from loving it — even if I like the overall idea of the Dragonfly. It's still a great laptop and certainly one of the most interesting, but HP needs to sort some of the software issues — especially around LTE — for me to make this my daily.

One looker of a laptop

HP Elite Dragonfly design and concept

Hp Elite Dragonfly Review Flat

Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

HP has two distinct premium laptop lines: Spectre, for consumers, and EliteBook for business. The Dragonfly falls somewhere in between hence the "Elite" in the name and "EliteBook" lightly stamped on the keyboard deck. I believe it's the first attempt by HP to bring some consumer frills to the button-up business world. And it works.

HP's Elite Dragonfly brings an outstanding design in a light and sophisticated package.

I won't mince words: I think the Elite Dragonfly is the most beautiful looking laptop HP has made yet. Sure, Spectre laptops are flashy. And those silver EliteBooks are professional looking. But the Elite Dragonfly's "iridescent dragonfly blue" is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It shimmers slightly in the light, it's matte to the touch (read: grippy), and it stands out from the sea of black and silver Ultrabooks found on every store shelf.

I also want to highlight this "iridescent dragonfly blue" is also oleophobic. That's fancy talk meaning your Elite Dragonfly will barely pick up fingerprints on the chassis. I've been asking for this for years, and HP has delivered. It's simply brilliant.

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CategoryElite Dragonfly
OSWindows 10 Home or Pro
Display13.3 inches, 16:9 aspect ratio
Full HD, Full HD w/Sure View, 4K UHD HDR400
ProcessorIntel 8th Gen U-series w/vPro
Core i3, i5, or i7
GraphicsIntel UHD 620
Memory8 or 16GB DDR3 (2,133MHz)
StorageUp to 2TB NVMe
512GB PCIe NVMe w 32GB Intel Optane H10
Front camera720P HD, HD Privacy IR webcam
SecurityFace and fingerprint
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, 4G LTE Cat 16 (optional)
Ports2x Type-C with TB3
1x Type-A 3.1
HDMI 1.4
Headphone
AudioQuad Bang & Olufsen
Battery38 or 56 WHr
16.5 or 24.5 hours battery life
Dimensions11.98 in x 7.78 in x 0.63 in
30.43 cm x 19.75 cm x 1.61 cm
WeightStarting at 2.2 lb (0.99 kg)
ColorsDragonfly Blue
PriceStarting $1,629
AvailabilityNow

Build quality is excellent. The 2-in-1 hinge is stiff, but as HP explained, business users and companies tend to demand sturdier designs as these laptops need to last years of abuse on the road.

Spec-wise there's nothing too unusual for a business-class Ultrabook. Being a business laptop, HP offers the Intel Core i3-8145U, i5-8265U, i5-8365U, i7-8565U, and the top-tier i7-8665U. HP is using only 8th Gen Intel U-series chips, but that's because it supports Intel vPRO, which is a necessity for enterprise device management.

Intel is coming out with 10th Gen vPro chips later this year, and HP has already announced plans to refresh the Elite Dragonfly when that happens. Indeed, the company is adding 5G in late 2020 and now offers its patented Sure View privacy display as an option.

RAM goes up to 16GB (soldered), and storage ranges from 256GB SATA up to 2TB of PCIe NVMe. Wi-Fi 6 (Intel AX200) and options for global 4G LTE (Cat 9 or Cat 16) are also available.

Port selection is robust with two Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, one USB Type-A 3.1, and even a full HDMI 1.4. Port for video out. Charging is done via the included 65-watt Type-C charger.

All these options and premium pieces drive up the cost of the Elite Dragonfly from a modestly-expensive $1,660 to a staggering $3,500 with 4K touch display, LTE, 16GB of RAM, Wacom AES 2.0 pen, and 2TB SSD.

Besides looking great, it's also thin and very light. While the version with a smaller battery is just 2.1 pounds, our review unit has a larger 4-cell battery and comes in at 2.5 pounds (1.13kg). That's still incredibly light for a 13.3-inch Ultrabook with all that technology crammed inside.

Did I mention the Elite Dragonfly also has recycled ocean-bound plastics in the speaker covers?

My only complaint on the Dragonfly's design is the power button. It's located on the side and has a nice LED light, which makes it available no matter the position of the convertible (good). Still, it also makes it very susceptible to accidental pushes (bad). A keyboard mounted power button would be better.

For this review, my test unit has 16GB of RAM, i7-8665U, 512GB PCIe NVMe with 32GB Intel Optane 3D Xpoint, 4G LTE, and a full HD display with the 3rd generation Wacom HP pen.

An excellent screen

HP Elite Dragonfly display and camera

Hp Elite Dragonfly Review Display

Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows CentralThis low-watt full HD with anti-reflective layer is outstanding. (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

While HP offers a dazzling 13.3-inch 550 nit 4K touch screen option, my unit had a more modest full HD (1920 x 1080) configuration. That full HD option is the best bet for battery life as it is the new low-wattage (one watt) technology.

The Elite Dragonfly is the most beautiful looking laptop HP has made yet.

HP has done a great job with the display sourcing. While I did notice more than usual amounts of screen bleed (not in use, just during booting), the color accuracy and brightness were first-rate.

In my tests, the full HD display earned 100 percent sRGB, 77 percent AdobeRGB, and 81 percent of DCI-P3. Brightness peaked at 412 nits. Those are outstanding numbers for the bottom-tier screen, and it makes recommending that configuration a breeze. Contrast is also superb.

While this is not a matte display, it does feature HP's anti-reflective coating, which helps reduce glare from overhead lights.

The display bezels are also relatively thin – especially on the sides – and HP has kept a balance of bezel to screen ratio. While I would have preferred a taller 16x10 aspect ratio – especially in a convertible – HP stuck with the tired and true 16x9.

Hp Elite Dragonfly Review Webcam Privacy

Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows CentralHP has a physical privacy shade for the 720P web cam, which is enabled here. (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

HP did manage to squeeze in Windows Hello infrared (IR) for the 720p front-facing camera along with a physical privacy slide. It's rare to get all three of those in a top-firing configuration, and it's nice to see here. Camera quality, however, is just OK, but it gets the job done for video conferences. Dual noise-canceling mics and HP's keyboard controls also go a long way for business users.

As mentioned earlier, HP also offers its Sure View technology as an option now. With a single button click, a combination of software and hardware will mask your display from onlookers in public spaces. It's a whimsical technology that HP has been mastering these last few years. Bonus: HP Sure View displays are 120Hz refresh rates, which gives smoother animations than traditional 60Hz screens.

Type like a pro

HP Elite Dragonfly keyboard, fingerprint reader and trackpad

Hp Elite Dragonfly Review Kb Speaker

Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows CentralHP also includes a very good fingerprint reader on the keyboard deck. (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

HP has a good history of banging out some of the best keyboards around offering something distinct but still performant compared to Lenovo.

Design is typical of the EliteBook series with large, square chicklet keys The Dragonfly's keyboard is very quiet to type on as HP focused on making sure that was a priority for business users in a meeting. Travel is decent and feels around 1.2 mm.

The white lettering against the matching blue keys dramatically helps visibility. That's only augmented by the solid two-stage backlighting.

Hp Elite Dragonfly Review Trackpad

Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows CentralThis is a very good trackpad, but rapid 2-finger scrolling can be hit or miss. (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

The trackpad is large, glass, and driven by Microsoft Precision drivers. The clicking is also fantastic rivaling Microsoft's latest Surface Laptop 3's design. That said, I did have some issues with rapid two-finger scrolling and sometimes the trackpad not registering. It's a minor oversight that some software tweaking or a driver update could fix.

Since HP offers a privacy shutter for the 720p web camera that means in use, it also negates Windows Hello. Luckily, HP sticks a fingerprint reader on the keyboard deck to use as an alternate. It worked flawlessly in my testing.

Overall, typing and input on the Elite Dragonfly are above average and one of the more satisfying of premium business Ultrabooks.

Supreme sound

HP Elite Dragonfly quad speakers set the bar

Hp Elite Dragonfly Review Bo

Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows CentralThe quad Bang & Olufsen with discrete amplifiers are phenomenal. (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

HP has been working hard lately on audio as exemplified in its monstrous ENVY 32 all-in-one. While there is no such thing as audio being too good, the Elite Dragonfly is easily the best of any business laptop available.

HP has four