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HP's Elite Dragonfly made an impressive debut back in September 2019, with a slimline convertible design and a starting weight of just under 1kg that made it one of the most portable 13.3-inch laptops on the market. This year's G2 update, announced at CES back in January, doesn't make any drastic changes to that winning formula, but it does bring several enhancements that help to keep this attractive but premium-priced ultraportable right up to date.
Thankfully, the Elite Dragonfly G2 steps up from the 8th generation Intel Core processors of its predecessor (which seemed like an odd choice even in 2019). HP's US website now offers a number of pre-built configurations using 11th generation Core i5 and Core i7 processors, starting at $1,819 for a model with a Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of solid-state storage and a 13.3-inch FHD touch screen (1920 x 1080, 165.6ppi).
There's also a 'build your own' option available in the US that provides a number of additional upgrades -- or even downgrades if you want to save some money with a Core i3 processor or a smaller SSD.
Our review unit included one significant upgrade, in the form of a touch-sensitive 4K touch screen (3840 x 2160, 331.26ppi). Other features included a Core i7-1165G7 CPU running at 2.8GHz (up to 4.7GHz with TurboBoost), 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 3-year warranty, all of which bring the total price to $2,118.40.
That build-your-own option isn't yet available in the UK, so customers in the UK currently must make do with just a single Elite Dragonfly G2 model. This costs £1,319 (ex. VAT; £1,582.80 inc. VAT) and comes with a Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, an FHD display and HP's recently launched Wolf Security software. HP tells us that the 4K option will be available in the UK from 'mid-August'.
The Elite Dragonfly's external design has barely changed at all for the G2 model, with the same deep-blue 'dragonfly' finish that gives the laptop its name, and a versatile convertible design that allows you to fold the display right back so that you can hold it like a tablet, or reverse the screen when giving presentations to clients or colleagues. It's worth noting, though, that the original Dragonfly -- with its 8th-generation Core processors -- is still widely available online, so make sure you select the latest 'G2' model if you're not buying directly from HP.
The Dragonfly's ultraportable credentials remain intact too, despite its enhanced performance and features: it still measuring a svelte 16.1mm thick, 304mm wide and 198mm deep. And, even with the 4K display and larger 56Whr battery in our review unit, the Dragonfly still weighs in at just 1.04kg -- a weight that even Apple's 1.29kg MacBook Air can't match. You can pick it up with one hand quite easily when you need to move around at home or in the office, and you'll barely notice it if you're carrying it in a bag while travelling.
Just as impressive as the Dragonfly's lightweight design is the fact that it hasn't had to make many compromises to reduce its size and weight. The sturdy magnesium casing includes a firm and responsive keyboard, which was already spill-resistant but now also includes a 'sanitization mode' that can be activated from the taskbar: this disables the keyboard and trackpad for two minutes so you can quickly run an anti-bacterial wipe over it without having to completely shut the system down.
Connectivity is good too, with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one USB-A, HDMI for connecting to an external display and a 3.5mm jack that handles both audio input and output. The only omission here is Ethernet -- inevitable, given the Dragonfly's slimline design -- so you'll need an adapter or a hub if you want to use a wired network. However, wireless support is bang up to date, with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) along with Bluetooth 5 and optional mobile broadband (4G LTE for $154 extra or 5G for $437).
The HD (720p) webcam is a little disappointing in a premium laptop such as this, although there is another model available in the US -- the Elite Dragonfly Max -- that offers a 5MP camera, an additional microphone, and even throws in a set of earbuds too, for users who need to focus on video conferencing and collaboration.
The stand-out feature with our customised review unit is, of course, the 4K display. This provides 550 nits of brightness and supports HDR-400, resulting in an attractively bright, colourful and sharply detailed image. The display's brightness and wide viewing angles will work well for presentations too, as will the surprisingly loud and compact speakers, which are designed by Bang & Olufsen.
It's not perfect, though. The glossy Gorilla Glass 5 panel is highly reflective in bright sunlight, and the contrast could be improved too. Lighter tones sometimes look a little washed out, and a quick glimpse at HP's data sheet reveals that the display only supports 95% of the sRGB colour standard. That's adequate for basic web browsing, presentations and streaming video, but HP acknowledges that the Dragonfly is primarily designed for general productivity and office work, rather than high-end graphics or design work.
The Dragonfly G2 is well suited to the role of reliable office workhorse. The step up to 11th-generation Core processors means that the G2 model comfortably outpaces its predecessor, achieving Geekbench 5 CPU scores of 1565 (single core) and 4330 (multi core), compared to 1115 and 2862 respectively for the first-generation model.
Graphics performance is stronger too, stepping up from 50.7fps on the Cinebench R15 Open GL test to a very respectable 85fps. Its integrated Iris Xe Graphics even manages 16fps in the demanding Unigine Valley benchmark.
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Admittedly, the Elite Dragonfly G2 is outpaced by rivals such as Apple's M1-based MacBook Air, which scores 1730 (single core) and 7590 (multi core) on Geekbench 5, but the Dragonfly outguns the MacBook Air in most other respects, including its 4K touch screen, convertible design and connectivity -- not to mention, of course, sheer portability.
Battery life is good, but not outstanding. HP quotes a battery life of 'up to 16.5hrs' but that's hardly definitive, given the range of processor and display options available. The 550-nits 4K display used in our review unit clearly takes its toll on the battery, which lasted for just a couple of minutes short of seven hours when streaming video via Wi-Fi from BBC iPlayer. You should be able to stretch that out to a full eight hours of work if you're not using Wi-Fi all the time, but the 4K display is quite power-hungry, and it's a shame that the only two options for the display are FHD and 4K, with nothing in-between.
Many ultraportable laptops must make compromises to reduce their size and weight, but HP's Elite Dragonfly G2 manages to provide a fully-featured and versatile 2-in-1 convertible, wrapped up in a lightweight and elegant design that few of its rivals can match. It's not cheap, and the 4K display does take a toll on battery life, but if portability is your top priority then the Dragonfly G2 will certainly earn its keep.
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