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Event Coverage

Here's how HP's Elite Dragonfly business ultrabook is designed for the next-gen mobile workforce

By Vijay Anand - 28 Sep 2019

Keyboarding, Audio, Ports, Platfrom & Security

Keyboarding experience

This is a department where personal preferences greatly vary, but most of us can agree that a mushy keyboard with little key travel (or none at all in some cases) can adversely affect your productivity. Most consumers are still chasing notebook specs and price over the actual experiences enabled by each notebook, so it will be a while more before more look beyond the basics. Even more tricky are considerations such as how noisy a keyboard is, which can affect your conference calls or group meetings with the annoying clattering of keys in the background.

Well, we're glad to comment that the Elite Dragonfly has you covered on all grounds. It's not as if previous HP notebooks had bad keyboards, but the Elite Dragonfly caught us by surprise when we gave it a quick go as we weren't exactly expecting a tactile keyboard with 1.3mm key travel for a great keyboarding experience in this compact notebook. It was also as quiet as HP promised thanks to rubber domes underneath the keys making them twice as quiet as their previous keyboards. There is even HP's own noise suppression technology built-in so that others can't hear you type while someone's presenting. HP's labs measured the expected noise output from typing and the Elite Dragonfly clocked in at just 20db, which is really quiet and is great for even a quiet conference without annoying others.

As can be expected from a no-holds-barred enterprise notebook, a backlit keyboard is present, complete with dedicated Skype call management buttons. Like the exterior of the notebook, the notebook also boasts Oleophobic coating on the inside for easier maintenance needs. When questioned about the keyboard's capability to withstand accidental spills and all, global head of strategy for innovation in premium notebooks and commercial PCs, Gagan Singh, responded with great assurance that it's a spillproof keyboard so it's all set for outdoor use.

A large glass Windows Precision enabled trackpad sits below the keyboard and has been tuned for just the right amount of touch and trackpad smoothness to get the pointer moving satisfactorily. It has even been colour-matched as close as possible to the chassis Dragonfly Blue colour. While it's not obvious from the photo, in person, both the are quite well matched and it's these little details that HP takes pride to point out the lengths they are prepared to go to deliver a no-compromise corporate business notebook masterpiece.


Audio engineering

Expected a bog-standard dual-speaker configuration? Not with the Elite Dragonfly - they don't shortchange you on any subsystem. You get four top-firing speakers, each powered by its own amp (not shared) to produce a wider, more dynamic audio. Tuned by Bang & Olufsen to reproduce and maintain clarity even at the highest volume, HP says the tuning was also carefully taken care to maintain a good bass roll-off at the low-end of the audio spectrum. We didn't get a chance to play with any tunes on the notebook at the launch event, hence we'll reserve comments when we get a review unit.


Ports galore

Taking heed of common office system connectivity requirements, the Elite Dragonfly comes with all that you would need such as a full-size HDMI 1.4 port, USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-A port, twin USB Type-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3 and a 3.5mm headphones jack. For those opting for the 4G LTE connectivity option, you'll also find a nano-SIM slot on its left flank.

Perhaps a microSD card slot would be nice to have as well, but at the enterprise sector, it's more of an option than a necessity. Moreover, depending on individual company IT policies, they could even disable certain ports for security purposes. So there's no upside to cram that in. We did, however, hear that a consumer version of the Elite Dragonfly would make its way in the near future and we hope that would incorporate SD/microSD card slots.


The platform under the hood

With so much going for the HP Elite Dragonfly, it needs to also live up to being a smooth and responsive performing machine, yes? As a forward-looking notebook, we're glad that it is part of Intel's Project Athena platform which is all about instant responsiveness even when running on battery, wakes from sleep in under a second, intelligence, worry-free battery life, always-connected reliably and has a great form factor. While Project Athena only specifies key experience indicators (KEI) to be validated for the "Engineered for Mobile Performance" identifier as a badge of honour, the real enablers are the tech and engineering that go behind the scenes to observe KEIs.

We've covered the form factor and battery aspects earlier. The rest are enabled by other platform-level capabilities such as using 8th-gen Intel Core vPro quad-core processor family that's based on the Whiskey Lake processors launched earlier this year, incorporating Wi-Fi 6 connectivity with a 4x4 antenna configuration with good placement within the notebook to excel in uninterrupted connectivity as well as enable speedier connections than most other notebooks in the market. Very few notebook even have a 3x3 antenna configuration, so we can't wait to test this notebook's throughput and capabilities when using it as a client machine for Wi-Fi 6 testing. To top it off, the Elite Dragonfly will also be offered with LTE options for true anywhere mobile connectivity and productivity. No Wi-Fi hotspots? No problem!

Further to Project Athena's KEI list, Intel and HP also collaborated for the Elite Dragonfly's board-level optimizations and power performance tuning in application performance, wireless performance and battery draw, all to enable a low power recipe for the great all-day battery life performance claims that HP is boasting and the instant responsiveness when called upon.

In terms of actual configuration options, that will vary market to market, but what we know is that it will have SSD storage configurations of up to 2TB in capacity, have 8GB and 16GB RAM configurations. The 16GB RAM config is soldered down with no expansion options and is laid out to support dual-channel operation.

For the processor, while HP didn't explicitly specify in their messaging it's clear that there will be Core i5 and Core i7 processor options and is part of the 8th-gen Intel Core vPro quad-core processor family. This means, there are exactly two CPU configurations:-

  • Core i5-8365U processor, which is a quad-core chip that can execute up to 8 threads with Hyperthreading, has a base clock of 1.6GHz and boosts up to 4.1GHz.
  • Core i7-8665U processor, also a quad-core chip that can execute up to 8 threads with Hyperthreading, has a base clock of 1.9GHz and boosts up to 4.8GHz.

While the base clock speeds of the processors might sound low, do remember that these are true quad-core processors and not the old dual-core processors that could execute up to four thread through Hyper-threading. We also expect the use of LPDDR3 RAM to keep power draw as low as possible for a notebook tuned for mobility.

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