HP launches two new Dragonfly laptops with 5G and Tile tracking built in

The so-called "lighter than air" laptops will be available in January.


HP made bold claims when it launched the Elite Dragonfly laptop last year, calling it “lighter than air.” While that’s certainly not possible, the original Dragonfly did weigh an impressive 2.2 pounds and is one of the better-looking business laptops around. This year, HP is turning this into a full-fledged line by announcing two new models — the Dragonfly Max and Dragonfly G2.

One obvious update to the series is their processors. You can get the G2 with new 11th-generation Intel chips with up to 32GB of RAM instead of the original’s limit of 16GB. But there are plenty more upgrades here. Both new Dragonfly laptops use what HP is calling its “premium” keyboard that is backlit and spill-resistant, and come with features like on-lap detection and Context Aware to tell when the device is in your purse. By determining how steady and even the surface is, the system will sense if it’s on your lap, and lower the temperature so you don’t get uncomfortably warm. When you put the Dragonfly back on a stable surface like a desk, it’ll allow the temperature to go up.

HP says the Context Aware feature can shorten boot time “by 10+ seconds” and will optimize battery life when you’re on the go. A new tool called Intrusion Detection will notice when the device has been opened or compromised and alert you. There are also a few new AI-based features focusing on audio. Dynamic audio, for example, will determine if you’re on a conference call or listening to music and optimize for each (prioritize voices on a call and fuller bass for music). Sound calibration, meanwhile, will let you create an audio profile based on your “ear print” so you can listen to things at levels tailored to your preferences. Finally, there’s also the AI noise reduction tool we tested on the Elitebook 1040 G7 that is supposed to filter out things like sirens, slamming doors and rustling paper on your conference calls.

Both the G2 and the Max can be configured with 4G or 5G connectivity to stay online wherever you go. And while they both have 13.3-inch IPS touchscreens, they’re available in different configurations. The G2 comes in a full HD low-power version, a full HD edition with HP’s Sure View privacy feature and a UHD option that supports HDR400 and goes up to 1,000 nits of brightness. Meanwhile, the Max is only available with a full HD, 1,000-nit display with a privacy shield built in.

Like the original, both new Dragonflies are very thin and light. The G2 weighs under a kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) while the Max is a hair heavier at 1.1kg (2.49 pounds). While some versions of the original Dragonfly offered Tile tracking, you had to attach the tags to the computer yourself, making it no different from simply buying your own tracker to stick on the device. The new Dragonflies both come with Tile trackers integrated into the WLAN module, which makes more sense.

The two new laptops seem very similar, but, as its name suggests, the Max packs some bonuses. For one, it has a 5-megapixel webcam with IR sensor for Windows Hello logins. That’s one of the sharpest cameras on a laptop we’ve seen so far. The G2 has the same 720p (1.2-megapixel) webcam with IR sensor as the original.

The Max also comes with HP Eye Ease that meets Eyesafe requirements for vision protection, including things like reduced blue light. It also has a mechanical webcam shutter that you can drag to cover the sensor, whereas the G2 has a physical cover that you can only trigger through a dedicated button on the keyboard. Finally, the Max comes in a “Sparkling Black” color option in addition to the original blue. The G2 is only available in the blue.

Both Dragonfly laptops will be available in January, and HP said pricing will be shared closer to retail date. The company also announced a new EliteBook 840 G8 Aero today that has a 14-inch full HD screen and weighs 1.15kg (2.54 pounds). Since it’s bigger, you can spec the Aero with up to 64GB of RAM in addition to the 11th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors. It offers a slew of connectivity options, including an HDMI slot, two Thunderbolt USB C ports, two USB A (3.1) sockets and a headphone jack. You can even opt for a Smartcard reader.

The Aero will be available in March, and like the Dragonflies its price won’t be announced until closer to its retail launch. Though these are marketed as commercial laptops meant for companies to buy for their employees, HP’s Elite series can often be bought in consumer channels and are among the most attractive business laptops around. Before you get too excited by the prospect of using one of these soon though, stay tuned for our testing to see what real-world performance and battery life is like.

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