HP Gets Collaboration with new HP EliteBook 800 and ZBook Releases
HP announced a series of new devices, docks and displays today designed for the modern office environment. The integration of collaboration features in keyboards and microphones offers a leap that Microsoft has not made, despite their ownership of platforms like Skype for Business, which often fuels enterprise collaboration conversations. The new features include collaborative audio support via a rear-facing microphone, collaboration keys and a Thunderbolt dock with an audio conferencing option.
World-Facing Microphone Built-in controls allows users to switch between room mode and personal mode. Room mode offers an omni-directional audio experience that picks up voices from both sides of the device. This is a significant design improvement compared to trying to figure out how to point the a notebook computer microphone at the speaker. Ideal for small conferences in huddle and focus rooms. In personal mode, the rear speaker does just the opposite, using its input to filter out background noise canceling for the person tapped into the conference.
Collaboration Keys HP included keys for presentation, answer and hangup on the keyboard. In combination with HP PhoneWise, this allows HP devices to intercept and manage phone calls from the keyboard as they are picked up from Apple iOS-based phones, and from Google Android-based devices. An app on the devices is required for HP PhoneWise to work. These keys also work with Microsoft’s Skype and Skype for Business collaboration platform.
HP ThunderboltTM Dock G2 The new HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 supports any HP or non-HP device notebook with Thunderbolt and USB-C functionality. This dock includes power, supports up to two 4K displays, and most interesting when it comes to collaboration, offers an optional audio conferencing module that transforming it into collaborative audio hub for individuals or small conference rooms.
Pricing and availability overview
These new features come standard on HP EliteBook 800 Series and HP ZBook 14u/15/u computers, all of which were released on February 7, 2018. EliteBooks 800s and the new ZBooks are expected to ship, starting at $1,029 for the 840 G5 and $1,099 for the ZBook 14u G5. The Thunderbolt Dock G2, is expected in May. No price has been set.
In addition to the enhanced microphone and collaboration keys, it would also be valuable for small conferences to include a world-facing camera that can auto-sense who is speaking and switch between front and rear views. Rear view camera could by default initialize in wide angle.
In the ideal circumstances, someone connected to the a call via another notebook or tablet could view content on their device without worrying about feedback or secondary video coming in from them in a shared space. With space awareness, such as knowing who is actually in the same room (perhaps by calendar entry or interpreting IP addresses) a single PC could take on the role of video and audio hub, muting the other devices and turning off their cameras. A less technically challenging approach would be a single click or tap on any device to put it into collaborator mode, turning off its video and audio while keeping the share screen portion of the feed.
HP has included a built-in security camera screen on its ZBook line, but not the more widely distributed EliteBook series. Features like this should be universal to their designs if they feel they are necessary for the general business audience, as they did with the microphone and keyboard.
HP Gets Collaboration demonstrated by these first steps toward enhancing the integration of hardware with collaboration features. HP should continue to synchronize their design teams on a set of business features that are common, and then agree on what make each series unique. There is more HP can do to bring collaboration features to hardware, and they should continue to invest in this direction.