HP’s Elite Dragonfly sets the standard for business laptops

Business laptops are not usually very exciting things. They usually perform well but in the looks department they’re about as interesting as watching paint dry.

That’s why it’s so hard to believe that HP’s Elite Dragonfly is a business laptop, it goes against the business laptop stereotype and is incredibly beautiful and slim.

The Elite Dragonfly is available in a range of configurations:

CPU: 8th generation Core i3, Core i5, Core i7
RAM: Up to 16GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
Display: 13 inches (1920 x 1080  or 3840 x 2160)
Graphics: Intel UHD 620
Ports: 2 Thunderbolt with USB-C, 1 USB 3.1, HDMI, headphone/mic, Nano SIM for WWAN
Webcam: 720p
Battery: 2-cell or 4-cell
Size: 11.98 x 7.78 x 0.63 inches
Weight: 997g

Ridiculously thin laptops are all the rage these days but they usually come with compromises in the form of battery life or ergonomics, the Elite Dragonfly has neither of these issues, in fact, it’s arguably the best ultra-slim, business laptop hybrid (yes, it can be flipped around into tablet mode) I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.

One of my big concerns is the durability of the device, after all, I’m a very clumsy person at the best of times and I’ve dropped my laptop more than once. That’s why the Elite Dragonfly’s MIL-STD-810G military standard certification which covers “extreme conditions like drops, shocks, vibration, and humidity” was a godsend.

Given that the body is made of magnesium alloy, this isn’t too surprising and it’s something I wish more manufacturers did. What makes it even more impressive is that it’s this durable while also being ridiculously lightweight. The stylish blue body has also been treated to resist fingerprints and repel dust.

Having used ultra-slim laptops before, I was expecting full-sized ports to be non-existent, boy was I wrong. Somehow, HP has managed to include two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one USB 3.1 Type A, HDMI and a headphone jack. As if that’s not enough, HP has also included speakers tuned by Bang & Olufsen that provide some of the richest sound I’ve ever heard on a laptop. Even at full volume, there was no distortion and the sound was so loud and clear that people around me thought I had a portable speaker on at full volume.

Powering all of this is a 38-watt hour Li-ion battery that delivers the 16-hours battery life promised by HP, but if you need a bit of extra battery life you can either plug in the USB-C fast charger or upgrade to the 55-watt-hour battery variant.

In terms of keyboard and other input, HP’s done a great job. There’s a full-travel dome keyboard with well-placed keys and two levels of backlighting (plus the option of no backlighting at all). Multi-finger touch and gesture support on the trackpad is very responsive and smooth.

Usually, when a laptop is this slim you end up with a bit of give and flex from the chassis when pressing down on the trackpad or keys but that wasn’t the case with the Elite Dragonfly.

Another feature that I love about the device is the built-in camera shutter. The only problem is that it also covers the IR sensor which means that you won’t be able to unlock the device using Windows Hello while the shutter is closed.

While my review unit didn’t have the 4K display, what I got was a beautiful FHD+ display with great, rich colour reproduction, good viewing angles, a nearly borderless design and great touch input.

HP includes a stylus with the Elite Dragonfly, something that’s very useful when using the device in tablet mode, but there’s nowhere to store it when you’re not using it. A sleeve or a means of attaching it to the device would be much appreciated because it’s fairly easy to lose.

Overall, the Elite Dragonfly is a fantastic, if expensive, piece of hardware that’s upped the bar for not only business laptops, but for ultra-slim laptops and hybrids.

An updated version unveiled at CES 2020 is expected to reach South African shores later this year.

The HP Elite Dragonfly has a starting price of R34 999.00