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CES: Laptops sport designs friendly for remote workers

Top PC manufacturers Dell, HP and Lenovo emphasized at-home flexibility in their CES laptop announcements. Remote work has driven the need to be productive anywhere.

At CES, Dell, HP and Lenovo introduced laptop designs the vendors said would help people without dedicated workspaces at home move quickly from room to room.

The new PCs, introduced this week, sport such features as a detachable display that could act as a tablet, so people could resume work faster when forced to change workspaces. HP executives claimed the average remote employee takes 23 minutes to regain focus following an interruption, so switching from laptop to tablet quickly could boost productivity.

HP has tackled the problem with its ARM-based Elite Folio. The laptop has a 13.5-inch screen that people can fold into a tablet or pull forward to serve as a self-standing media player. HP said the device has a battery life of up to 24.5 hours, weighs 2.85 pounds and has optional 5G support. The Folio will be available in February; HP has not yet announced its price.

Lenovo introduced the ThinkPad X12, which features a 12.3-inch detachable display and optional stylus, like the Microsoft Surface. The device weighs about 2.5 pounds, has a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and a battery that lasts up to 10 hours. The X12 will be available this month, starting at $1,149.

The product is Lenovo's latest experiment in laptop design. Late last year, the company released the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which has an OLED screen that resembles a tablet when flat and a laptop when folded. The device cost $2,500.

HP Elite Folio
The HP Elite Folio features a pen that charges in a built-in storage space above the keyboard.
Lenovo ThinkPad
The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable separates from an optional keyboard and functions as a tablet.

Lenovo vice president Jerry Paradise said the company is designing devices for the present remote-work situation and the hybrid work environment that will likely emerge following the pandemic.

"[Customers will] need to move pretty seamlessly from the home environment -- from room to room -- and back to the office," he said.

Dell's detachable laptop was the 13-inch Latitude 7320. The device weighs 2.5 pounds and has an 11th-generation Intel processor and a 5-megapixel camera. The new product is part of the Latitude 7000 series that Dell plans to release in March.

Having a laptop that takes the place of multiple devices can be helpful to home workers, said Mark Bowker, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

Dell Latitude
The Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable separates into a 13-inch tablet.

"Having devices that are as flexible as the employees are is important," he said.

People forced to work from home by the COVID-19 pandemic made PCs a must-have technology, along with mobile phones. In 2020, the PC market rose 4.8%, the highest in a decade, according to Gartner.

"Prior to 2020, consumers had been shifting to a phone-first focus, yet the pandemic reversed this trend," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in a statement.

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) is a division of TechTarget.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering end-user computing topics such as desktop management. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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