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HP Elite Dragonfly Max has the killer feature the MacBook Air M1 is missing

HP Elite Dragonfly Max
(Image credit: HP)

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max takes one of the best laptops HP’s made in years, and optimizes it for the work from home life. Its webcam is super-sharp; its microphones are better at picking up your audio; and its screen is super bright and easy on your eyes at the same time. 

Announced as a part of the virtual CES 2021 experience, the Dragonfly Max packs Intel 11th Gen processors for speed, which are also in the super-light Elite Dragonfly G2 that the company is rolling out. You also get a super sharp 5MP webcam — compared to just 720p for the MacBook Air with M1 chip — proximity sensing for automatically waking the laptop and wide-range mics for better audio on calls. 

Will these Dragonfly notebooks soar to higher heights? Let’s find out.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max price and release date

HP says the Elite Dragonfly Max will be released this month (Jan. 2020), but it did not have pricing available at this time. It probably won't be cheap, as the original started at $1,629 upon release. We hope to have a price for you as soon as it's available.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max specs and performance

HP Elite Dragonfly MAXHP Elite Dragonfly G2
Display13.3-inch Full HD13.3-inch Full HD or UHD
Processor11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake (Core i5 and i7) with optional vPro11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake (Core i3, i5 and i7) with optional vPro
Memory16 or 32GB LPDDR4 RAM8 to 32GB LPDDR4 RAM
StorageUp to 2TB SSDUp to 2TB SSD
Dimensions12 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches12 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
Weight2.5 pounds2.2 pounds
Ports2x Thunderbolt 3, 1x USB-A, HDMI, Nano SIM2x Thunderbolt 3, 1x USB-A, HDMI, Nano SIM
Webcam5MP + IR720p + IR
Battery56.2WHr batteryTBA

As you'll see above, the HP Elite Dragonfly Max has 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake processors, in Core i5 and i7 versions. This should make for speedy performance, and keep the Dragonfly Max snappy. One of the neat tricks HP's packed in is HP Presence Aware, using the internal "proximity sensors to automatically lock or awaken" the laptop, so you can get back to work fast — or be confident that you don't need to manually lock your screen when you take a break.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max design

The HP Elite Dragonfly won points for its elegant Dragonfly Blue hue, and that excellent design isn't the only flavor it comes in this time. Now, you've also got an optional Sparkling Black colorway, which we wish we could see in person at CES. Photos don't do it justice if it's the kind of laptop that truly catches your eye.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max

(Image credit: HP)

At 12 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches and 2.5 pounds, the Dragonfly Max has the exact same size and heft as the original Dragonfly — which is fine by us.

HP Elite Dragonfly G2

(Image credit: HP)

The biggest change to its design, though, comes in two changes HP made to make the HP Dragonfly Max the ideal work-from-home computer. First, it's got a 5-megapixel webcam for much clearer video calls than you get anywhere else. That camera has a manual privacy shutter you will physically open and close.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max

(Image credit: HP)

Next, the Dragonfly Max's four wide-range microphones mean you're going to be heard in crystal-clear clarity at all times. But don't worry about those mics picking up your family, roommates or the traffic outside: HP Dynamic Audio suppresses background noise so you — and only you — are heard.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max display

The Elite Dragonfly Max's 13.3-inch Full HD touchscreen is the screen your tired eyes need. So not only can it get amazingly bright — HP rates it for 1000 nits of output — but it will also take care of your eyes as well.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max

(Image credit: HP)

HP Eye Ease, an "always-on, low-blue-light filter that protects you from potentially harmful blue light" is there to keep display colors looking as accurate as possible while still shielding your eyes. It's also got TUV Rheinland Eyesafe certification, meeting the modern standards for how a screen should go easy on your eyes.

Plus, it's got Sure View Reflect technology, for added privacy. You're going to be going on a business trip some day, right? You might as well be able to stay private when you're on that trip. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max battery life

Unfortunately, we don't know how long the Dragonfly Max should last. HP notes that it's got a 56.2WHr battery, but doesn't provide any estimate of endurance. 

The original HP Elite Dragonfly made it 12 hours and 25 minutes on the Tom's Guide battery test, and we hope it puts up a similarly long time.

HP Elite Dragonfly G2

The Max isn't the only Elite Dragonfly coming out this year. HP's also announced the Elite Dragonfly G2 (coming this month, pricing TBA, just like the Max). Available with 11th Gen Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, the 2nd Gen Dragonfly wins with its lightweight body, as it weighs a mere 2.2 pounds. 

HP Elite Dragonfly G2

(Image credit: HP)

HP boasts its environmentally friendly chassis, which "incorporates recycled materials, including ocean-bound plastics." And unlike the original, all Elite Dragonfly G2 models will have built-in Tile tracking. You'll also get sound tuned by Bang & Olufsen, and the same background audio suppressing technology that the Max has. The major difference? A lack of that fourth microphone for a wider audio input.

HP Elite Dragonfly G2

(Image credit: HP)

Both the Dragonfly G2 and Max have HP's Sound Calibration technology to tune headphone audio for optimal listening. It should sound great as well, thanks to four top-firing speakers and four discrete amps.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max and G2 outlook

We wish we could have been there in person to see the Elite Dragonfly Max and G2 models for ourselves. That being said, in this age of constantly working from home — which will likely continue in some capacity even past this pandemic — the Elite Dragonfly Max holds a lot of allure for those who want their laptop made for communication. But since there's so much that we haven't learned about these laptops yet, including pricing, we look forward to putting them through their pacing in our full reviews.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is an editor writer at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and Apple. Prior to joining Tom's Guide — where he's the self-described Rare Oreo Expert — he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. You can find him at your local pro wrestling events, and looking for the headphone adapter that he unplugged from his iPhone.