Unfortunately, I was not able to see, touch, and therefore make a preliminary first-person evaluation on these units, but by design, these are the most potentially useful and innovative laptops announced at CES 2022.
Over the last few weeks, I have been privy to show pre-briefings, so have had to keep some announcements to myself until the editorial embargos lifted. Well, most of those embargos lifted today as people started streaming into the Las Vegas convention center and other venues for CES 2022.
I will be writing a series of posts covering different technology areas. This first one focuses on the CES 2002 best business laptops.
HP Elite Dragonfly G3
The HP’s Elite Dragonfly line has produced some light, powerful laptops. I wrote a review of the original Dragonfly and am currently working on a review of the Elite Dragonfly Max. Both of those machines had some drawbacks, most notably the screen, and in the original model, an aging chipset. The G3 switches from the cramped 13.3-inch 16:9 1080p display to a 13.5-inch 3:2 1920×1280 display, bringing more canvas to the work experience. The new G3 also includes 12th Generation Intel processors with Intel vPro and Evo certs. Memory can now reach 32Gb.
Interestingly, HP has also dropped the 360 feature. The Dragonfly no longer supports a pen or tablet mode. That isn’t surprising as the Dragonfly Max didn’t ship with a pen—and frankly, the convertible laptop as tablet never really competed well against Apple’s iPad or Microsoft’s Surface tablets. But I did find a niche for on-the-go presentations. For those still looking for a 360 experience, look to the new HP EliteBook x360 1040 G9.
A 5MP HD camera improves the video conferencing experience. Weight starts at about 2.2lbs and goes up slightly depending on features.
HP also announced an Elite Dragonfly Chromebook for enterprises. And that may well be a bigger story than designing the perfect Elite Dragonfly PC. The new Chromebook fits into the top tier of the market with up to a 13.5-inch 3:2 (2256 x 1504) display, haptic trackpad, fingerprint sensor, Sure View privacy screen, 5MP front-facing camera, and enhanced audio and video. The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook will support up to 32GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage. And it also flips 360-degrees and includes a pen to complement touch. Some who saw it say it ranks as one of the best Chromebooks ever.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3
When it comes to slightly experimental production units, Lenovo throws some caution to the wind. They really did that with the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 and its pen-enabled, e-ink lid. Rather than enhancing that experience with backlighting and a better pen, Lenovo went in a completely different direction.
The ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 supplements its 3072×1440, 21:10 display with a built-in 1280×800 pixel LCD touchscreen where you might expect to find a ten-key pad. The display has some built-in features for taking notes, a calculator, and perhaps a ten-key pad. I’m guessing apps that run in that space can be developed especially for this device. I thought the G2 was aimed at writers and researchers (and students).
The G3 firmly aims at creators with demos that show thumbnails or clips on the keyboard and editing apps on the main display. My initial concern is what the LCD panel does for touch typing, but if this is primarily about images and not long text, that may not be an issue.
Lenovo also announced an updated X1 Carbon, one of our favorite laptops of 2021 (see our Gen 9 review here). The Gen 10 updates the design with the new communications bar (see the description in the Z13 description below) and a new OLED display.
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
I also like the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13, more from a design POV than from a power or performance standpoint. I am a sucker for small laptops that maximize use, and this looks to be a killer in that department with a 91.6% screen-to-body ratio on the 13.3-inch display. The Z13 also features the new Lenovo communications bar, which is kind of a reverse notch, going above the display rather than into it. The notch was placed on several Lenovo laptops to accommodate a higher quality video conferencing camera. A side benefit comes in being able to lift the lid more easily.
The Z13 also comes in vegan leather (I don’t like the misnomer of vegan leather, as it potentially hides environmentally negative materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU), or more sustainable options like cork or kelp. Just saying vegan leather doesn’t offer enough information). Despite the diatribe on vegan leather, the Z13 looks great with its vegan leather cover and bronze accents.
The Z-series exclusively employs AMD chipsets.
Dell XPS 13 Plus
Dell has made some radical design departures with the XPS 13 Plus, including a touchpad that just is, and function keys that aren’t keys.
Just as Apple ditched its Touch Bar virtual function keys, Dell introduces a capacitive row of function keys. You don’t need function keys for touch typing, so that shouldn’t be an issue. What this does is open the edge-to-edge keyboard for bigger keys.
The 13.4-inch display will support up to 4K resolutions with Dolby Vision and Display HDR500, and a 100% DCI-P3 color gamut. 4 display versions run from non-touch HD+, to touch HD+ to 3.5k OLED touch, and ultimately the 4K touch UHD.
Inside Dell boosted the XPS 13 Plus to 28 watts, making way for 12th generation Intel CPUs. But with power comes heat. Users will also find dual fans under the hood (hopefully quiet ones that on previous XPS devices).
The XPS 13 won’t ship until Intel’s Alder Lake chips ship in volume later this year.
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.
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