Tech Review: HP Elite Dragonfly, From €1,600

If something ultra-slim, light and powerful is what you need in a business laptop, HP’s new Elite Dragonfly model might be a fairly compelling option.

I’ve had one for a month and have found it to be fast and very portable. It doesn’t look like a typical business laptop which, overall, is a plus. Still, while coated in a pleasing shade of blue, it doesn’t quite have any ‘wow’ factor as to its looks.

It has a 360-degree hinge, which lets it transform from a standard laptop into a 13-inch tablet screen.

The hinge is also stiff enough to allow it to be used as a stand for the screen.

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Its magnesium build, as well as being very light, is surprisingly tough for drops and falls. The base model is under a kilogram, which is about the lightest you can get for this category of business laptop. (A longer-battery model is available, but bumps the weight up to 1.13kg, still quite light.)

The 13.3-inch display has a number of interesting options for business users. The base model comes with an HD screen, while those with more money and a need for higher resolution can opt for a 4K model.

But its privacy feature is notable: you can configure it so that it’s very difficult to see the screen unless you’re looking directly square at it. I find this mainly to be an issue on planes, where someone is sitting right next to you and could, if they wanted, read every line of your email, presentation or spreadsheet.

For such an ultra-portable laptop, it has a relatively generous array of ports. These include two USB-C ports, a full HDMI port, one traditional USB-A port, a nano-Sim slot for 4G and a headphone jack, as well as a lock slot. The USB-C ports are how you charge the laptop.

But like some other heavy electronics, you can’t do this with any old USB-C cable plugged in to a mobile charger.

It needs a beefy power input, such as the charger it comes with. This can be a downside as you really need to bring this charger with you and can’t, for example, plug it in to most portable powerbanks (or on some planes and trains), like you can with Apple’s iPad Pro.

The Dragonfly’s keyboard is unremarkable, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s not quite as good as you’d get on Lenovo’s Thinkpad series, but it’s better than some rivals, including Apple’s infamous MacBook ‘Butterfly’ keyboard (now being phased out). The trackpad is as big as you could hope for on a laptop where space is at a premium, but it’s generally accurate and supports multi-touch gestures.

One small feature on the Dragonfly that appears to be in greater demand these days is a webcam shutter for privacy. This literally slides over the 4K camera in case you’re worried about any software, apps or websites that might trigger recordings (which is admittedly very rare).

A more meaningful detail is that you can replace both the battery and the hard drive yourself if you want to.

This will be of no use to some people but to others, who use their laptops a lot and want to hang on to them at least three years, it could be very handy. Batteries tend to degrade noticeably after a year of use. They do so proportionately to the number of times they’re recharged. This is why older laptops sometimes have battery lives of no more than an hour and need to be plugged in constantly.

Speaking of battery life, the base (two-cell 38Wh) model will give you somewhere between eight and 10 hours, while the heavier (four-cell 56Wh) model should be closer to 14 or 15 hours. HP claims that you’ll actually get up to 24 hours on the larger model, but manufacturers always slightly overstate longevity – a bit like electric car manufacturers with their overenthusiastic claims on range-per-charge.

It comes with 8GB or 16GB of Ram and Intel i5 or i7 chips.

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