Dell, HP, Lenovo Add Pizzazz to Commercial PCs

CES is more than consumer electronics. The big boys unveiled new commercial PC lineups.

Jeffrey Schwartz

January 10, 2019

6 Min Read
Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1

(Pictured above: The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1.)

CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW — Commercial laptops are popular for their enterprise-grade security and management but have historically lacked the pizzazz of comparably configured, premium consumer PCs. The leading vendors are stepping up in 2019 with sleeker commercial systems.

Dell, HP and Lenovo have borrowed from their premium consumer PCs by adding improved ergonomics and including high-definition displays, enhanced audio and other integrated peripherals delivered in smaller and lighter form factors. Partners are getting a glimpse of the new pipeline of commercial PCs at this week’s annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Powered with Intel’s 8th Generation Core CPUs, the latest commercial systems address modern enterprise-mobility requirements with new hardware and software-based security and privacy features, enhanced collaboration capabilities, support for gigabit-speed wireless broadband and improved battery life.

These refinements come amid anticipation that demand for PCs will grow, albeit moderately, after a slight resurgence last year that followed a long period of declining growth. Increased PC demand is typically a positive sign for partners – whether or not they resell them – in that they are a harbinger of enhanced services opportunities.

Buoying optimism that PC demand will rise, despite current economic uncertainties stemming from U.S. tariffs on imported goods and increases in component costs, is that mainstream support for Windows 7 will end in one year.

Dell is completely revamping its flagship Latitude line with a newly engineered, 7400 convertible 2-1 PC, which the company argues is the “smallest” commercial 14-inch system in that size category. While such claims are fluid, the company said the new 7400 is one-quarter smaller than its predecessor and now weighs just 3 pounds.

The company was able to shed some weight and mass from the systems by dispensing with the thick bezels of its predecessors, including last year’s Latitudes. While the bezels – nor the system itself – on the new Latitude aren’t quite as thin as on the XPS 13 – Dell’s premium consumer laptop that’s popular with business customers – they comes close.


Dell’s Allen McKittrick

Allen McKittrick, the Dell engineer who redesigned the Latitude, said the company revamped every aspect of the Latitude.

“When I started, I wanted this to be the first 14-inch 2-in-1 with four-sided narrow borders,” McKittrick said. “That, in itself, set the bar in terms of how big this system is going to be.”

The new Latitude 7400 is made with a new Titan Gray aluminum, has curved edges and a magnesium alloy undercover. To create the four-sided narrow bezel, the device has a drop hinge and a new thermal design footprint using material called GORE to enable optimal wireless antennae placement.

In addition to paring down the size of the system, McKittrick had to find a place for some noteworthy new features, including the first proximity sensor to use Intel Context Sensing Technology, which can detect the presence of a user.

Also, the new Latitude provides Dell’s new ExpressSign-In feature, which uses the proximity sensor to wake the PC and immediately activates the IR camera to invoke Windows Hello to authenticate with facial recognition. ExpressSign also automatically locks the system when the user steps away.

Dell claims the new Latitude supports up to 24 hours of runtime on a single charge, when using the 78Whr battery and support for Cat 16 gigabit LTE, which will enable 1 Gbps download speeds. The new system is slated to ship in early …

… March and will carry a starting price of $1,599.

While Dell is describing its new Latitudes as the smallest 14-inch commercial notebook, Lenovo says the 7th generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon it introduced at CES this week is the lightest, weighing 2.4 lbs. Built with a new carbon-fiber weave on the top cover, the company describes it as a pragmatic commercial system with a 4K Dolby Vision display and a Dolby Atmos speaker system — with two top-firing tweeters and two down-firing woofers.

David Rabin, Lenovo’s VP of global commercial marketing, said the addition of features more commonly found on its consumer Yoga systems comes as business customers, especially employees who travel, commonly use their PCs for both work and leisure.

“We’re putting in powerful displays and amazing audio to really enhance that experience, even though it is a ThinkPad commercial device,” Rabin said at a press conference held this week at CES. Collaboration capabilities will include four far-field mics optimized for Microsoft Cortana or Amazon Alexa. Lenovo claims battery runtime of 15 hours and support for LTE-A and CAT 6 LTE wireless connectivity.

Lenovo also previewed the 4th generation of its ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2-in-1, which isn’t as light, weighing 3 pounds, though the company said it will have thinner bezels than the current version, providing a 17 percent reduction in the overall footprint. The X1 Yoga has an aluminum chassis.

The forthcoming ThinkPads will include the new ThinkShield security options, that Lenovo announced last year, which includes the company’s ThinkPad PrivacyGuard, allowing users to go into a privacy mode and alerting users if it detects visual attacks, USB locking and secure docking.

Privacy support was a key theme emphasized by HP, which has the third generation of its Sure View controls for its Elite line of commercial displays, all-in-one desktops and notebooks. The new Sure View Gen3 screen privacy technology supports larger form factors, including this week’s newly launched EliteOne 800 AiO G5. The display with Sure View Gen3 enabled also will fade to black rather than white, which will add to the battery life on notebooks.

The EliteOne 800 AiO G5, which won’t ship until June, is the company’s first 23.8-inch all-in-one desktop with Sure View. The new system also includes a pop-up camera for added privacy. Sure View Gen3 will also be available on the new HP EliteBook x360 830 G5, also introduced at CES and slated to ship in March.

HP had rolled out a revamped EliteBook at last year’s CES with a new aluminum design, bright screens and the x360 form factor offered on its consumer systems such as the Spectre.; however, the new EliteBook design was only delivered on HP’s premium 1000 series. The company now is bringing those features to its mainstream EliteBook 800 Series.

Alex Thatcher, director of new products for HP’s commercial PC business, said the new EliteBook x360 830 G5 is suited for Windows 10 migrations for mainstream office workforces. Thatcher, in a pre-CES briefing, said the new EliteBook is also aimed at the modern workforce, which does an estimated 32 percent of its work outside the office.

“We know [these] people need a display that will work anywhere,” Thatcher said, adding that the EliteBook x360 830 G5 addresses that with an anti-glare screen and support for up to 1,000 nit brightness with sensors that can adapt the display to the light in an office or outside (compared with 400 and 500 nits for the new Lenovo ThinkPads and 300 nits for the new Dell Latitude).

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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