My experience has led me to believe that the HP Elite Dragonfly Max is the best business laptop I’ve ever used. However, this does not mean that it is the greatest option available; when it comes to performance, battery life, and features, the Dragonfly faces stiff competition from other laptops, including as the Latitude and the ThinkPad. However, there is no other professional laptop on the market that can compete to the sophistication of a Dragonfly. The fact that this computer is so elegant, despite its low weight and thin profile, contributes significantly to the exorbitant cost of purchasing it.
That’s right, the cost indicated. Before we go any farther with this: Even the model with the lowest price tag, the Dragonfly Max, has a suggested retail price of $3,347 (although it is presently available at $2,409.84). You can purchase my prototype at the discounted price of only $2,622.24 if you’re interested. Because of this, the majority of people will not be able to purchase the Dragonfly Max. And to tell you the truth, since the device has a short but significant list of limitations, I do believe that it is priced too costly. However, it is a stunning laptop, using it is a lot of fun, and it serves as an excellent example of what a laptop can be at its most best.
7.5 out of 10
Sure View screen reflection captured with a 5MP webcam
Strong port selection capabilities.
The 16:9 aspect ratio is unaffordable for real people due of its high cost.
Just average battery life
There are now two different types of Elite Dragonfly available for purchase; these are the Dragonfly Max and the Dragonfly G2. Both have been improved to 11th-Generation Intel processors and DDR4 memory; HP tells me that they are geared toward “mobile users who loved Dragonfly, but want an even quicker and smarter tablet.” New intelligent features have been added, such as AI noise reduction for video conversations, and new security measures, such as a tamper lock, have also been included. The Dragonfly Max comes with a new black colour, an updated camera with 5 megapixels, an additional microphone, a blue light shield, and a few additional safety features.
Another important distinction is that the Dragonfly G2 may be configured in a wide number of various ways, including the following: You have your choice of five CPUs, three displays, two batteries, and numerous types of storage, in addition to a number of add-ons; the pricing for all of these options are comparable to one another. You are able to make a few modifications to the Dragonfly Max, but its possibilities are somewhat more restricted; it only has two processors, one screen, and one battery. This product is geared toward a very particular type of wealthy business user.
Noteworthy is the fact that one of the Dragonfly line’s most prominent selling points, Sure View Reflect, is standard equipment on all Dragonfly Max models. SureView reflect is a privacy screen that makes it extremely challenging for others who might be spying on you to see what you are doing. It is not included with the G2 and costs an additional $145 in comparison to the display that comes standard.
If you’re not going to buy the Dragonfly for its stylish appearance, you’re going to get it for the Sure View Reflect feature. After putting a number of alternative privacy screens to the test, I’ve determined that Sure View Reflect is the clear winner. If I turned my head slightly to the side or tilted the display slightly up or down so that I wasn’t looking at it straight on, I was essentially unable to make out any of the information that was being displayed on it. It would have been difficult for anyone sitting next to me on the train or even looking over my shoulder to extract any information from me. It is a remarkable feature that has virtually no discernible effect on the screen’s brightness or glare at all. (Of course, you always have the option to disable the feature if you’re going to be collaborating with other people or moving your head around a lot during the activity.)
Aside from Sure View, the touch display on the Dragonfly Max is fairly precise and vibrant, and it provides a staggering 1,000 nits of brightness. This is a level that is uncommon for anything that isn’t an exorbitantly priced business laptop to reach. (Turning on Sure View will, of course, result in a darker display.) It works with HP’s Wacom AES 2.0 pen, which unfortunately does not come included with the device like it did with earlier iterations of the Dragonfly line. However, it is compatible with the pen. It comes at an additional cost of $74.
There are a few more things I take issue with. To begin, the screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is becoming less common on high-end laptops because there is a good explanation for this trend. The more spacious 16:10 and 3:2 aspect ratios have been used on a number of Lenovo’s top ThinkPads; HP ought to do the same with the Dragonfly. Both options provide more vertical space and a more comfortable environment in which to multitask. In addition, the display is particularly susceptible to picking up fingerprints and smudges, both of which are difficult to remove once they have been established. My watching experience was somewhat degraded as a result of this, even though they aren’t as obvious as they would be on a screen with a lower contrast.
The light coming in through my window caused my photo to come out a little washed out.
The camera on the Max is superior to the one on the G2, so this may be another factor in your decision. The Dragonfly Max comes equipped with a webcam that has 5 megapixels and a separate infrared sensor. This webcam is unquestionably superior to those found on laptops such as the MacBook Air, which sometimes have webcams that are regarded as one of their major shortcomings. It performs better in low light than the majority of webcams I’ve tested, and the colours were quite true to life. During a Zoom chat, my coworkers noticed that they were able to pick out very minute aspects of my stream, such as individual strands of hair and my nose stud, among other things. My photo appeared a little washed out because of the light coming in from my window, and there was still audible noise in it. Obviously, this does not suggest that the camera produces an excellent image. Although it’s a fun experience, I wouldn’t buy the Dragonfly Max merely to have access to it on its own.
The webcam also features a real shutter that can be clicked open and closed with ease. However, the shutter button is quite small and black, making its location more of a mystery. Because it has a dedicated IR sensor, Windows Hello is able to recognise the user’s face even while the shutter is closed. You can also log in by using the fingerprint reader that is situated below the right arrow key. I had no problems using this method myself.
In addition to the webcam, there are four microphones with built-in AI noise cancellation; two of them are front-facing and the other two are rear-facing. During video chats, these picked up my voice pretty perfectly, and it was very easy to turn them off by pressing the F8 key.
HP continues to incorporate environmentally friendly components into its high-end laptops, despite the fact that the company’s recent comments are somewhat less outspoken than they have been in previous years. In the same way that it was the case with the original generation of the Dragonfly, the keyboard is made up of 50% PCR DVDs, and 80% of the mechanical elements are created out of recycled material. The bezels of the Max are composed of 45 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics and five percent plastics that are destined for the ocean, whereas the bezels of the early-2020 Dragonfly were composed of 35 percent PCR plastic. However, some of Max’s other proclamations are a bit of a step down from the ones he made in the Dragonfly before this one. In comparison to the speaker box of the previous Dragonfly model, which was made of 50 percent PCR plastics and five percent ocean-bound plastics, the new Dragonfly speaker enclosures are made up of 45 percent PCR plastics and five percent ocean-bound plastics. Additionally, 90 percent of the Dragonfly Max’s cover is made out of recycled magnesium, whereas the original Dragonfly’s chassis was already made out of recycled materials in 90 percent of its entirety. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see HP taking steps toward sustainability with its high-end product lines.
The fact that the chassis is not made any less expensive due to the use of recycled materials is, nevertheless, excellent news for consumers. The Dragonfly Max has a surface that is both smooth and comforting to the touch, and it provides the impression of being fairly substantial. It has a stunning, premium design that only HP’s own Spectre line has been able to compete with in recent months. Even after being tested for more than a week, the Dragonfly did not show any signs of smudging or fingerprinting, which is a characteristic of low-quality plastic that tends to show up rapidly. (The lid did gather up a few of them, but you could only see them under bright light, and they were quickly wiped away.)
When you open up the device, you will find a mind-boggling amount of security features that are aimed at executive offices and IT departments. If a potential hacker has opened the chassis of the computer to tamper with its components, the tamper lock on these Dragonfly models will prompt the user to enter a BIOS password before the computer will boot up again. This feature is new to these Dragonfly models and was added as a security measure.
Within the operating system itself is a safe web browser called Sure Click, which accesses webpages inside of an isolated virtual machine that the CPU controls. When you exit the browser, any malicious software that you may have downloaded while using Sure Click will be cut off from the rest of your computer and will be removed when the browser is shut down. Additionally, it provides password protection for accessing PDFs and Office documents. I experimented with it, and I found that it was quite simple to use, and it also conveniently transferred all of my bookmarks. Because the colour palette is slightly different from that of standard Chrome, I was never confused about which tab was which.
The product is sold with a long list of additional software already installed on it. There is a programme called Sure Sense that checks every file you download for malicious software and, according to HP, is able to identify “zero day never-before-seen threats.” There is a feature called Sure Run that, in the event that malicious software attempts to terminate critical processes, maintains them running. Easy Clean is a feature that can temporarily deactivate the keyboard, touchscreen, and touchpad of the Dragonfly so that you (or someone else) can wipe it clean without mistakenly starting it back up. This feature is available. In addition, the Dragonfly Max comes equipped with a Tile tracker that, in the event that you misplace it, will allow you to track it down using the enormous crowd-finding network maintained by Tile. In particular, if you already have a Tile account, setting it up and using it will be a breeze.
The aforementioned attributes of the Dragonfly Max are merely its most notable qualities; in almost every other respect, it is difficult to bested. It has support for Wi-Fi 6 as well as an optional 5G connection. It weighs only 2.49 pounds and has a thickness of about 0.63 inches, making it incredibly lightweight. The audio is outstanding, with bass and percussion that can be heard, even though they are not very powerful. This is achieved by having two speakers that fire upwards and two speakers that fire downwards. The keyboard is a joy to use because it has the ideal amount of click and travel for each key. For such a slim laptop, the port selection is quite robust, featuring two Thunderbolt 4, one combination audio jack, one HDMI 2.0, one USB 3.1, one nano lock slot, and one nano SIM slot. Additionally, there is one nano SIM slot. In addition, the temperature within the chassis was never uncomfortable, and the noise level of the fans was never bothersome.
The processor, which was a Core i7-1185G7 with support for Intel’s vPro, performed admirably with a wide variety of tasks, including opening countless tabs and playing countless videos simultaneously. Only once, while I was using the Battery Saver profile and trying to switch between Slack and Chrome while simultaneously running a Zoom call in the background, did I experience a slight decrease in performance. That problem was solved once I turned off the Battery Saver setting. Although the integrated graphics from Intel’s Iris Xe can be helpful in GPU-intensive work or titles like Overwatch, you probably shouldn’t use the Dragonfly as your primary gaming device because of its performance limitations.
However, the duration of the battery life was the source of my greatest dissatisfaction. The Dragonfly Max lasted me an average of seven and a half hours throughout my typical workday, during which I toggled between approximately a dozen Chrome tabs while also streaming music or videos from Spotify or YouTube and making Zoom calls on medium brightness while Battery Saver was enabled. Regardless of the battery profile or the adjustments I made with Sure View, the outcome remained astonishingly stable within a few minutes’ time around the same interval. This is not an extremely disappointing result, and it indicates that the Dragonfly Max should be able to last for almost an entire day if your workload is comparable to mine. However, this is a letdown when compared to the competition; I was able to get almost 11 and a half hours out of the previous Dragonfly, and the Dell Latitude 9420 broke the 10-hour mark even when set to the Battery Saver option. In addition, there are a wide variety of consumer laptops that are more affordably priced that can last a lot longer.
If you have the financial means, the Dragonfly is an excellent piece of machinery to own. I certainly do not fault IT teams for taking a look at it because corporations frequently buy these goods in bulk and are not paying full price for them. There are some things that you just can’t find anyplace else, and almost every other facet of the product is positive. The Dragonfly Max is practically your only option if you want a combination of features such as an inbuilt Tile tracker, an effective privacy screen, a 2.49-pound chassis, and a 5MP webcam with a separate infrared sensor. If you want all of these features, you should get the Dragonfly Max.
However, taking into consideration the price that HP is asking for this item, I am unable to avoid seeing even relatively minor disadvantages with a rather critical eye. I am willing to forgive a squeaky keyboard or an oddly placed port here and there on a laptop that I recommend you purchase for over $2,400 (or upwards of $3,000, depending on the day). This is because I do not require a laptop to be completely flawless in order to recommend that you spend this much money on it. However, I require it to have a battery life that lasts throughout the entire day. It is essential that the screen not have any smudges on it. I need it to be anything other than 16:9 in the year 2021. In addition, the inclusion of a stylus in the package is something I absolutely require. For this reason, I believe that the majority of customers would be better served by the regular G2 model, which has a starting price of only $1,819 and is significantly more customizable.
At the end of the day, The Max is considered to be a luxury product. For the vast majority of us, this purchase is less about functionality and more about proving a concept: what kind of device could a laptop be if money were no object? The answer, as it happens, is that it is very nice but also very expensive.