At CES, laptop OEMs announced their new competitive lineup of commercial, consumer, and creator/gaming laptops every year. As we jump into the new year, these new laptops set the stage for how the year will play out in innovative trends and new technologies. I want to give my top trends of CES 2022 from the largest laptop OEMs, Lenovo, HP, and Dell.
These trends are no surprise to me, as most of them relate to the digital transformation of businesses, the improved hybrid workflows between the office and elsewhere, and the expansion and improvement of the prosumer category. I also noticed many sustainable efforts from OEMs, an emphasis on content creation and performance, and the desire to create devices that cater to diverse workflows. My performance talk will be saved for my blog on processors at CES where I will mention the new Intel processors and design choices that favor content creation. Let's take a look at the latest and greatest of CES categorically by each OEM.
HP is implementing more of its collaboration solutions as it did with its consumer devices in its Fall launch. HP Presence is making an appearance on all Elite laptops, enhancing its collaboration and hybrid experience. HP Presence is HP's scalable meeting space solution that coincides with other HP collaboration offerings like HP Auto Frame for better hybrid work experiences. myHP is a dashboard application for managing a user's PC experience like HP Presence. HP is going all-in on its video collaboration offerings, and seeing that hybrid work is very much a personal experience. It is going hybrid based not only on location but also circumstance. The greatest challenge for OEMs is providing a personal experience for hybrid work. It's no longer one size fits all in the office, rather one size fits all everywhere.
The HP Dragonfly, which is now on its 3rd generation (G3), was originally a business laptop with a focus on a lightweight design and performance. HP was able to make an easy transition with the Dragonfly series toward a hybrid focus without compromising the 1KG weight goal. The biggest changes to the new Elite Dragonfly are a 3:2 aspect ratio, a larger keyboard and trackpad layout, and a different I/O layout for more dynamic workflows. It also has 12th Gen Intel Processors, intelligent charging, and audio by Bang & Olufsen. The HP Dragonfly G3 has the size and the performance to be one of the best business laptops on the market. The change to a 3:2 aspect ratio is a screen ratio that is more common with touch displays, given the scroll of a web page is vertical, and the horizontal distance is convenient for touch. Where the Elite Dragonfly benefits from the different screen ratios are the larger keyboard and trackpad, making for a more comfortable typing experience. I believe a touch variant of the Elite Dragonfly will respect the change in aspect ratio.
Earlier in the 2021 year, HP launched Chrome OS consumer devices, so there is no surprise that HP and Google are deepening their partnership with an HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. Chrome OS has gained a reputation in the workplace over its ten-year maturation, and the offering of a business notebook like the Elite Dragonfly as a Chromebook with powerful Intel Core processors says a lot about the direction Chrome OS is going and HP's willingness to follow it. Chrome OS has been thought of as a budget-friendly cloud-based offering that does not need high-end specs. The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is kit-ed out with the Intel Evo Platform, up to 512GB of storage like its Windows counterpart, and an x360 form factor with pen support. Not only does it include the hybrid work experience that the Elite Dragonfly brings to the table, but the experience of a Chromebook and the modularity form factor makes for an all-around premium Chromebook experience. Considering my company, Moor Insights & Strategy, uses Google Workspace, the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is right down my alley.
HP has also updated its EliteBooks, including the EliteBook 1000 Series, EliteBook 800 Series, and the EliteBook 600 Series. The EliteBook devices have two variants, an Intel and an AMD, with the AMD ending in a "5". HP says the higher tier Elite 1040 and Elite 1040 x360 have a lighter design as well as a new 16:10 aspect ratio. Although the Elite 1040 does not have an AMD variant, it does support the Intel Evo Platform with Intel's latest 12 Gen vPro processors. The 800 series also have a slimmer chassis and a new 16:10 aspect ratio with the options for AMD processors.
Lenovo updated its Yoga 9i, the Yoga 7i convertible laptops with Intel 12th Gen processors, and the Yoga 6 comes with 5000 series AMD processors. The Yoga 9i is Lenovo's flagship Yoga and has a new hinge design where the speaker is tucked into the hinge so that the speakers are always facing the user when in different 2-in-1 modes. The rotating soundbar on the hinge is also made in partnership with Bowers & Wilkins. Having speakers in the hinge is a unique alternative to the base of a laptop, and I see it as superior to the always-facing alternative of having it under or next to the display. Having the speakers in the hinge, if you make the hinge bulky enough, leaves it more room than when it is next to the display, like on a tablet. However, I believe that the best placement for a laptop's audio is in the laptop's base, where there is more room to control the acoustics. Keep in mind that sound travels like ripples in the water. Whether the speakers face you or not, the quality will depend on the audio maker. The always-facing speaker bar should help in the audio volume so that when the volume is high in a 2-in-1 mode, the sound is not distorted because the speakers are always-facing.
Since there is no need for front-facing speakers next to the keyboard, Lenovo has included a dedicated column of buttons. Lenovo has mapped four buttons: a performance boost key, entertainment profile key, dedicated background blur for conference calls, a dedicated dark mode key for video calls, and a fingerprint reader. Although I believe this new column of entertainment-specific buttons will be useful to some, my personal preference would be to have full-sized directional keys with these mapped buttons given special hotkeys for them. The Lenovo 9i also has some design changes like a 45% larger touchpad and new rounded edges that Lenovo is calling Comfort Edge, which looks comfortable near the palm rests. My only concern with the rounded edges is how it feels when the device is in tablet mode. The rounded edges could be an uncomfortable feeling in the hand.
The Lenovo Yoga 7i has the same Comfort Edge design, with the Yoga 7i being slightly beefier for content creation. Compared to the Yoga 9i with up to a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1260P, the Yoga 7i has up to a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1260P for the 14-inch Yoga 7i and a 12th Gen Core i7-12700H for the 16-inch Yoga 7i.
The Lenovo Yoga 6 has a new design built with recycled materials. It is available with AMD Ryzen 5000U series processors and Lenovo's Comfort Edge design in a smaller 13-inch footprint. I do like the look of the Yoga 6 with the fabric cover. I believe it gives a friendly look that pairs well with the Comfort Edge design.
Lenovo's updated ThinkBook lineup includes the ThinkBook 13x Gen 2 i and a new design on the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3. The ThinkBook 13x Gen 2 i has an aluminum chassis and weighs in at 1.2kg, slightly more than the HP Elite Butterfly with a weight of .99kg. The ThinkBook 13x Gen 2 i also has an upgraded charging pad that now includes Qi-compatible devices. I believe the ThinkBook 13x Gen 2 i is compelling for those who are now going back to the office. I could see the charging mat doubling as a "snatch-and-go" laptop dock. If a user is going to use the mat out of convenience, having it for all of the laptop's peripherals only makes sense.
The ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 has a new ultrawide display with an 8-inch touch display that sits to the keyboard's right. This was a big adder. While it does have a unique and innovative design, my first thought is that Lenovo has excluded many left-handers. It has a 17-inch display 3K-IPS display with a 21:10 aspect ratio. Engaging with new device concepts like this is one of my favorite parts of my job, and I commend Lenovo for having a unique design like the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 and its predecessors. I see the secondary display being useful, which was the original intention of the e-ink display, as a notepad/notebook alongside the garaged pen for quick notes and for artists looking to do fine detail. If Lenovo is able to include a software feature that enables the user to mirror a snippet of the primary display, I believe it would have a lot of potential for content creation. My only concern apart from excluding lefties is the room for the palm to rest.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon has set a standard for premium business laptops and its 10th generation is no different. Its 2-in-1 and lightweight siblings, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 7th Gen and the ThinkPad X1 Nano 2ndGen follow right along. All three ThinkPad X1 laptops support Intel's 12th Gen Core P-Series processors and a new communications bar with an FHD 1.4
m camera and 360-degree far field quad-array microphones. Like many other business notebooks, the ThinkPad X1 lineup follows the trend of creating the best video call experience from versatile form factors.
Lenovo differentiates itself from the pack with its new Computer Vision and Neural Processing Unit (NPU) offering. Lenovo's NPU uses Lattice Semiconductor's Lattice CrossLink-NX FPGAs and its Lattice SensAI solution stack for generating metadata from the camera. It uses AI to offer smarter Human Presence Detection to detect the device's user over other people. It can also detect when the user is looking away to dim the screen and save power. I believe Computer Vision is a useful technology in an era of diverse workflows and workspaces.
Pre-CES, Dell announced many new concepts that address the trend of hybrid work and collaboration for what Dell calls a seamless work experience. Concept Flow looks to make a more seamless experience when connecting devices up to a workspace. The idea is that you walk up to a workspace and automatically connect to the I/O like monitors, keyboards, and speakers. It relies on technologies like wireless charging technology, intelligent software applications, and Wi-Fi 6E docking technology. Concept Pari is the concept of having a dynamic video call experience with a tiny moveable camera. The camera can be held, docked, or put on a display. I believe these concepts are the direction of hybrid work, where different and changing work environments adapt to the person, place, and workflow.
Concept Stanza is a concept for making the note-taking experience as efficient as possible across multiple mediums of note-taking. Concept Stanza is an 11-inch companion device with no cameras or speakers that can double as a secondary screen, whether using speech-to-text, a pen, or typing. Handwriting can even be converted to text. The issue that I see concept Stanza addressing is the issue that there is no efficient medium for digitally putting words down on paper. While keyboards are native to PCs and writing is native to an analog notebook, it is difficult to mix them. I like this concept of blending the two for the best note-taking experience.
The XPS 13 Plus is by far one of the sleekest and nicest-looking laptops that I have ever seen. Its new design pulls the keyboard to the very edge, bringing along with it the touchpad that fills the whole bottom of the laptop. The keyboard and touchpad follow magnificently with the "infinity" theme of the XPS, where the InfinityEdge display offers a borderless experience. It would be a missed opportunity to not call the borderless keyboard and touchpad an InfinityEdge keyboard and InfinityEdge touchpad. With that said, and without touching the device yet, I question the functionality of the borderless keyboard and touchpad. The touchpad would rely heavily on palm rejection and, seeing as our hands type at an angle, reaching for keys in the top corner could be uncomfortable. Where I see this concern vanishing for me is how the keyboard is laid out. The keys are larger, and the zero-lattice design works in its favor other than the capacitive row. I do believe the capacitive row could push some people away because, from the pictures, it looks hard to see and is reliant on the backlit portion of the keyboard.
Dell says it has reduced its carbon footprint by removing steps, reducing finishing materials, and decreasing scrapped parts on the sustainability side of things. The packaging of the XPS 13 Plus is also made from 100% sustainably sourced or renewable materials. Seeing as the Dell XPS 13 Plus resembles Dell's concept Luna in many ways, I believe Dell is working to make concept Luna a reality in the XPS lineup, and its reduced carbon footprint and packing mindfulness is just the start.
It is exciting to see all the new technology that will follow into the next year. I believe the trend to make hybrid work more inclusive is inspiring the industry to make unique devices like what we have seen at CES. The Lenovo EliteBook Plus Gen 3 has a unique touch display to the left of its keyboard for note-taking. With its concept Stanza, Dell also addresses the note-taking experience from a hybrid workflow perspective.
Lenovo is also striving for the best video call experience with its webcam The XPS 13 Plus has a new and elegant keyboard and touchpad that saves materials. Likewise, HP's thin and light Elite Butterfly G3 and Lenovo's 10th Generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon make a close race for the best thin and light business notebook for hybrid work.
The 10th Generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon has a new NPU for its Computer Vision offering that should be great for privacy, security, and video calling. HP is going all-in with on video collaboration with HP Presence and Dell with concept Pari.
Outside of the hybrid workflow trends is the push to create sustainable notebooks without compromising the years of innovation. Devices are using fewer materials and using more sustainable materials, and the most impressive aspect is that these OEMs are doing it during a chip shortage. Net-net, there were many great devices at CES 2022.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.