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September 15, 2021
Arm Working to Enable the Software-Defined Car

August 19, 2021
Intel Lays Out Multi Chip Architecture Plans

August 11, 2021
Samsung’s Latest Foldables Show Benefits of Refinements

July 21, 2021
Amazon Drives Ambient Computing Forward with Alexa Enhancements

July 14, 2021
Microsoft’s Windows 365 Brings Cloud PCs to Life

June 29, 2021
MWC News Shows 5G Focus Shifting to Infrastructure

June 22, 2021
Global Foundries Fab Expansion Reveals New Strategy

June 16, 2021
Videoconferencing Challenge Looming

June 8, 2021
Cisco Extends Webex to Suite of Offerings

June 2, 2021
Computex News from AMD, Intel and Nvidia Demonstrates Strength of PC Suppliers

May 18, 2021
IBM Simplifies Automation with Watson Orchestrate

May 11, 2021
IBM Simplifies Automation with Watson Orchestrate

May 5, 2021
Dell’s APEX Brings Hardware as a Service to the Mainstream

April 28, 2021
Arm Brings New Compute Options from the Cloud to the Edge

April 21, 2021
Apple Announcements Accelerate Custom Chip Transition

April 13, 2021
Nvidia Steps Up Enterprise and Automotive Efforts with GTC Announcements

April 6, 2021
AWS and Verizon Bring Private 5G and Edge Computing to Life with Corning

March 31, 2021
Cisco Wants to Make Hybrid Work Actually Work

March 23, 2021
Intel Reinvigorates Manufacturing Strategy with IDM 2.0

March 16, 2021
AMD Refocuses on Business with Latest Epyc and Ryzen Pro Launches

March 9, 2021
GlobalFoundries and Bosch Emphasize Shift in Automotive Semis

March 2, 2021
Microsoft Brings AI Appliances and Improved Connectivity to IoT

February 23, 2021
Cybersecurity Deal Highlights Benefits of 5G and AI in PCs

February 16, 2021
Will Conference Rooms Help or Hurt in the Return to Work?

February 9, 2021
The Ever-Present Need for Simplicity in Tech

February 2, 2021
Poly Makes Videoconferencing Personal

January 26, 2021
2021 Shaping Up to Be Big Year for Automotive Tech

January 12, 2021
What CES 2021 Says About Our Future

January 5, 2021
Big Tech Trends for 2021 Are Hybridization and Customization

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TECHnalysis Research Blog

September 22, 2021
New Microsoft Surface and HP PCs Demonstrate Ongoing PC Innovation

By Bob O'Donnell

As we’ve all witnessed throughout the pandemic, PCs have become critical devices for a huge variety of people, with enormous amounts of time being spent on them. At the same time, the requirements for new PCs have also evolved, particularly when it comes to communication and collaboration.

Thankfully, many PC-focused vendors have taken these trends to heart, and starting this fall, we’ll be seeing some of the first new machines that were designed primarily during the pandemic and with the unique demands it created in mind. Toss in the fact that these new PCs were also crafted specifically to work with the forthcoming Windows 11 (though Windows 10-equipped versions will also be available), and it’s easy to understand why there’s a lot to look forward to.

Kicking things off, both HP and Microsoft recently debuted a wide range of creative new PC designs, which clearly highlight that, despite the age of the category, innovation in the PC world is still very much alive and well.

For its part, HP unveiled PCs in several different form factors—from a tablet to a 2-in-1 convertible to a huge, widescreen all-in-one—as well as new monitors and software tools. The software is designed to make the PC communication experience better across these new PCs and to extend its capabilities to multiple screens. The HP 11-inch Tablet PC offers a highly portable, inexpensive ($599 with a keyboard, $499 without) option for people looking for a lightweight, touch-capable device with a high-resolution (13 Mpixel) rotating camera, detachable keyboard, and built-in kickstand that supports both landscape and portrait modes. The idea is to offer a Windows 11 option to those looking for a modern tablet design.

In the convertible space, HP’s new Spectre X360 16-inch builds on the company’s line of 2-in-1 designs with a bigger, higher resolution (3K+) display, 5 Mpixel camera with IR support for Windows Hello, and the latest Intel Evo platform powered by an 11th generation Intel Core i7 and an optional NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 discrete GPU. Other cutting-edge technologies include two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports (along with USB-A, HDMI, and headphones), integrated WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless technologies, and 32 GB of Intel Optane Memory (in addition to 16 GB of DRAM and a 512 GB SSD). The latest Spectre X360, which starts at $1,639, is built with both recycled aluminum and plastic and includes HP’s new Tilt Pen and Protective Sleeve in the box. On the software side, the company’s new GlamCam app adjusts the light sensitivity of the built-in camera and offers “beauty” filters that can improve your appearance on video calls, regardless of the environment in which you make them.

For many people who are now comfortable working from home, desktop PCs have taken on new relevance and importance during the pandemic, particularly if they’re connected to large displays. Addressing both of those issues, HP’s Envy 34 AiO (All in One Desktop PC), which starts at $1,999, incorporates a huge, 34” ultrawide 5K display and offers both Intel’s top-of-the-line 11th Gen Core i9 CPUs along with an option (the first for an AiO) for NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. The default configuration includes an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 1650 with Max-Q for space and power savings. As a long-time user of large, ultrawide displays, I can heartily verify that once you’ve tried one of these, there really is no going back. Interestingly, Envy 34 also comes with a detachable, magnetic 16 Mpixel camera that you can easily connect anywhere on the monitor.

Speaking of large displays, many of us realized during the pandemic that there is nothing more important than screen real estate and the ability to extend it across other nearby devices. In recognition of this, HP also unveiled a new standalone 34” curved monitor, the M34d priced at $529, and a new 32” 4K HDR monitor called the U32 (and priced at $499) that can be connected to these and any other existing PCs. In addition, on the software side, HP bundled the Duet for HP application, which lets you extend your screen across other nearby devices, with the Tablet 11.

Microsoft refreshed a large portion of its Surface product line at their launch event today and made a very notable and powerful addition in the form of the Surface Studio Laptop, a new design that evolves the Surface Laptop with a convertible screen design that’s similar to the Surface Studio desktop PC. On the low-end, the latest version of the Surface Go 3 (starting at $399) ups the processor to a 10th Gen Intel Pentium and offers an option for a Core i3, making it a significantly more viable option for those who want a lightweight Windows 11 machine, but still need reasonable performance. The company also reduced the price on the 4G LTE modem-equipped version to $499, making it one of the least expensive cellular-equipped tablets/PCs on the market.

In another pricing move, Microsoft is now offering a version of the Qualcomm-powered Surface Pro X for $899, but it’s a WiFi only version. As a big believer in the value of cellular-equipped PCs (and seeing mobile broadband connectivity as one of the big advantages of the Arm-powered Qualcomm chip-equipped versions of Surface), I have to admit to scratching my head a bit on this one. However, Microsoft assured me that customers interested in Arm-powered Surfaces are asking for this option, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, the latest Surface Pro X has no changes or enhancements to that Qualcomm processor—we’ll apparently have to wait until next year for improvements there.

The 8th generation Surface Pro 8 device and related peripherals include several important enhancements this time around. Notably, the screen has grown to 13”, reducing the bezel around the display in the process, and the screen refresh rate has been bumped up to 120 Hz for super smooth scrolling. Not surprisingly, the CPUs have also been upgraded to Intel’s latest 11th Gen Core chips, and (at last!) Microsoft has added two Thunderbolt 4-equipped USB-C ports. The design itself has more of the look and feel of the Surface Pro X, and, importantly, the new Surface Pro 8, which starts at $1,099, gets the cool keyboard design with the integrated pen storage (and charging) that Microsoft first debuted on the Surface Pro X. Speaking of which, the new Surface Pro 8 keyboards feature a stiffer, yet more lightweight design, thanks to the use of carbon fiber. In addition, the new $129 Surface Slim Pen 2 that fits into the keyboard features haptic feedback, thanks in part to a new custom Microsoft G6 chip, and a more pointed design, which together are supposed to give a truer pen-on-paper-like experience.

The real star of the show (at least on the PC side—the latest Surface Duo 2 smartphone is also a big step up from its predecessor—but that’s a topic for another day!) is the Surface Laptop Studio, which starts at $1,599. Quite frankly, this looks to be the Surface device I’ve always wanted, and I expect it to become a new fan favorite. It starts out with a powerful set of performance and connectivity specs. The traditional-looking laptop design has a large 14.4”, 120 Hz refresh rate, 2,400 x 1,600-pixel resolution display, a very large haptic touchpad, two built-in Thunderbolt 4-equipped USB-C ports, 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs, AI-powered smart camera, and optional NVIDIA discrete graphics (the RTX 3050 Ti for consumer models and the equivalently-powered but differently named Quadro A2000 for enterprise models). In addition, there’s a magnetic spot under the front lip of the machine’s design that lets you cleverly store (and charge) the Slim Pen 2.

What really makes the Surface Laptop Studio stand out is the new convertible screen that you can pull forward into two main positions or modes (in addition to normal Laptop mode). Pulling it all the way forward and sliding it down gives you the full-screen tablet experience you’ve come to expect from Surface devices via what Microsoft is calling Studio Mode. In the middle is a new Stage Mode with a slanted screen that lets you easily consume content like streaming video, participate in video calls, give presentations, etc. As with most Surface designs, Microsoft has thought through important usability details for this new design as well. First, there’s a magnetic lock for the screen just beyond the keyboard that lets you easily put the Laptop Studio into (and out of) Stage mode. Second, you can also flip the screen over in that mode (or in Laptop Mode) to let you present to others in front of you. While extended hands-on experience will be the real test here, it certainly looks to be a great new way to get more value and productivity out of your PC.

All told, these new HP and Microsoft designs are great examples of the ongoing innovation that continues to occur in this nearly 40-year-old product category. Plus, by leveraging many of the new capabilities being built into Windows 11, such as Snap windows among many others, the new designs bring even more experiences to the PC right at a time when they are most needed.

Here’s a link to the original column:

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.