CES 2022: Top Notebook Trends

The Six Five team discusses the top notebook trends coming out of CES 2022.

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Patrick Moorhead: PCs had a rocking year in 2021. Maybe talk a little bit about what the future looks like. Daniel, maybe we can kick this off here.

So, as I hope everybody understands out there, PCs, notebooks, Chromebooks were very important devices for us. In fact, biggest growth since 2012. But we couldn’t do the pandemic without them. At home, we wanted more entertainment at home, and a lot of homes, they actually share laptops or desktops. What we got into was a one device per person in the household, which was big. We had big drivers in work, because essentially people were told within a two-week period, “You need to leave the office and go home.” PCs are critical and I can’t help but to give some credit to HP, who essentially coined this beforehand. I don’t think they portended the pandemic, but they sure… Alex Cho sure was smart for going out on a limb at the time and pointing that out.

You can read my Forbes article if you want to that goes through blow by blow of what the top makers brought out, but what I’ll talk about is some of the universal trends, and some of those that would probably be obvious to you. These are hybrid workflows, okay? And that’s whether you’re buying a consumer device to do this, or an enterprise to do this, every one of these companies upped their game for cameras and audio. For the lids of notebooks, it used to be about how thin you could get it, but the problem with thin is you can’t put a very good camera. In fact, you top out at about 720P resolution, which is awful, and right now, you’re probably shooting in 4K or 1080. I’m 4K but focusing in, which dithers it down, and we’re streaming at 1080, so those old notebook cameras were just junk. That is a big trend.

And the other thing is audio. I’m in my living room trying to work and I also have my kids at home because they don’t have in school, and I’m trying to manage them at the same time, and it’s really, really tough. So, we got really good at channeling audio and taking some features from companies like Poly, where some of these makers, you can actually stand up and be on a conference call and it’ll track you. Sound familiar, Daniel, to what Poly does? Or Cisco? And another feature that they’ve put in their audio driver and their microphone driver is crumpling up a bag of potato chips, or a dog barking, or somebody knocking on the door, they are using real machine learning, not fake AI, to parse out those audio signals. Pretty cool. It’s exactly what you would have thought.

I’ll end with this. Dell and HP hit really hard on technologies that are good for the environment. Not that you can eat the notebook yet, but I know Dell has been a pioneer. They even made some packaging out of mushrooms, which I always thought was fascinating, but Dell came out with a concept of a PC that was about as green as I’ve ever heard. It’s not for sale. It was more of a tech demo. But the one cool part, and I’ve been harping on this for multiple podcasts, Daniel, is this thing is modular. Meaning you can take it a part. You can take out the keyboard. You can easily replace the display. There are different modules that extends the overall life of the notebook and I’ve always kind of mocked, and Daniel, we did a video I think even for Lenovo where it was like the environmental irony that people don’t make more technologies… We’re always asking people to buy new stuff every three to four years as opposed to making them modular and people can upgrade and add features that they don’t like.

So, pretty long winded there, but there’s a lot of stuff going on in the PC market. If you want the details from all the three big vendors, check out my Forbes article.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, and we’ll spin back at the end about some of the actual market sizing and some of the new insights that have come out, because there’s more continued strength in PCs which will probably force me down the rabbit hole later of talking a little bit about what’s actually going on in the overall tech market because there’s some really fascinating stuff in both the equities and the industry side that we’re going to need to look at this year, Pat. But heading into CES, I think you kind of nailed it. We’ve got this hybrid remote work story. We’re going in and out. Vacillations of return to work, not return to work, and this hybrid story, it’s kind of gotten overplayed.

I mean, look. Everybody’s talking about it, whether you’re a mobile device maker, you’re a collaboration technology, you’re making PCs and notebooks, desktops, chips, cloud, it’s all, “People are going to be working everywhere.” Yes, we know. People are going to be working everywhere. And by the way, this was already happening before COVID was happening. Having said that, I think there is a bit of a race to making these devices lighter weight, longer lasting battery, which we’ll talk more about when we actually get to the chip part of the CES 2022, because this stuff all ties together. More power efficient, more environmentally friendly, and so we’re starting to see some of that progress take place, and of course we’re seeing advancements in the PC to make sure the PC stays uber competitive with our friends in Cupertino which have made a lot of progress with their new M1.

So, not much to add there, Pat, but what I will say is that there is still some technology to be desired. There’s still going to be some advancements to be made. And the notebook is essential, but it can get even better for being able to accommodate the kind of work that people are going to want to be able to do in the future.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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