Can a virus like Corona help shape the next generation of computers? Yes, say the manufacturers in the context of the digital trade fair CES and show devices that should be particularly suitable for home offices.
Many office workers were caught off guard in March 2020: no or bad webcam in the notebook, creaking sound, feedback, slow battery. The laptop, which was still good to date, had somehow reached its limits in the age of Corana, #stayathome and home office.
Manufacturers can be pleased: With mobile work at home, home office or other hybrid work concepts, the demand for suitable end devices has risen suddenly. A look at the home electronics index (Hemix) of the industry association gfu shows: up to October 2020 there was an increase of a good 20 percent compared to the same period in the previous year for notebooks, for monitors there was even an increase of 40 percent.
With regard to current developments, the focus of users on equipping laptops for the home office has changed. The manufacturers are reacting and want to meet these new needs even better with the model generations 2021. This can be seen at the digital technology fair CES across Asus, Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and LG. Their business models give an insight into what could soon also be standard in other device classes.
Focus on webcam and microphones
Video conferencing has become part of everyday life in many office professions. The manufacturers take this into account with powerful, high-resolution webcams. HP’s Envy 14, for example, can use the screen as a ring light for well-lit video conferences, while the HP Elite Dragonfly G2 has a webcam with a resolution of five megapixels. More and more models are now finally offering real covers for the cameras, which increases security.
With Dolby Voice, Lenovo’s Thinkpads of the X1 Carbon and Yoga series support a new audio technology that is supposed to make video conferences easier to understand and less tiring. For this purpose, individual voices are better separated from each other or noise and echoes are suppressed using software. Other models rely on two or more microphones or develop loudspeaker solutions with well-known names such as Bang & Olufsen or Dolby.
At HP, a technology called Dynamic Audio recognizes whether a video conference or a film is currently in progress – and adjusts the audio output accordingly. The computer can even adjust itself to the listening habits of individual people via sound calibration.
Light and smart laptops for the home office
Those who work unplanned from home may be familiar with the fact that during the day you change positions more often. From the bedroom to the kitchen, later maybe on the couch – be it to avoid children playing, kitchen noises or working partners. Particularly light home office laptops should help. A number of devices with starting weights of 990 to 1250 grams scratch the one-kilo mark.
With this daily micro-mobility, however, the periphery must also play a role. Is there a desk in one of the rooms for a screen, keyboard and mouse? The new generation of screens only has a single USB-C cable. Through this, not only does the image flow from the computer to the screen, but also electricity and data into the computer. This eliminates the need for long unplugging when moving to the kitchen table. If a screen and keyboard are already available, a USB-C dock will do the same.
LG’s Gram notebooks want to support longer-term laptop use with larger keys. Small models in particular tend to have smaller and closer together keys.
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New form factors for more screen space
The format of current home office laptops and monitors is also changing. There used to be monitors in 4: 3 format, then 16: 9 and now 16:10 or 3: 2 are more often the format of choice in the business sector. They provide more pixels in almost the same space and less scrolling because there is simply more vertical space.
In addition to LG’s new Gram models, Dell is also moving towards the higher display with the Latitude 9420, HP with the Envy 14 and Lenovo with the Thinkpads X1 Titanium Yoga and X1 Carbon as well as the IdeaPad 5 Pro. Lenovo’s ThinkBook Plus Gen2 also has a monochrome e-ink display on the top of the notebook lid. In this way, many programs can be used to save energy without opening the computer.
In addition to many convertible models that can be folded from a laptop to a tablet, there is another interesting concept with the HP Elite Folio. The screen of the 13.5-inch notebook with Qualcomm processor can be folded forward so that you can draw on it with the pen supplied. The 180-degree suspension also allows the display to be completely folded over into tablet mode.
Artificial intelligence runs in the background
Artificial intelligence in unexpected places is available at HP, for example. Sensors recognize, for example, when the computer can switch to economy mode. For example, if he recognizes a typical sofa position and the laptop in performance mode would only provide a warm lap. If the sensors and coupled software recognize a solid surface and perhaps a connected keyboard, mouse and monitor, it is time for full performance.
However, software in the background also recognizes when users lift their computer or take it out of a pocket. Then the device starts up in the background and is ready for work more quickly after it is opened.
Lenovo’s device management software Vantage for Thinkpad and Co. will receive new functions in the course of the year to better separate private and professional use.