A Cnc-Milled aluminum body. Dimensions that rival the svelte Apple Macbook Air. Is this the pitch for the latest consumer Notebook? As it turns out, No. Meet the new generation enterprise products.
Just consider 2009’s Dell Precision M6500 workstation. It was fat, cumbersome, and ungainly, even by standards then.
Think of what a business device looks like to you. Are you picturing a black, thickset laptop with nearly inch-long bezels and a rather drab look? Yup, for the longest time, that was us too. Enterprise and consumer devices used to be in two entirely diﬀerent categories. While companies focused on pouring their design dollars into the latter and sprucing them up to look their Sunday best, it always seemed like no one cared as much about the aesthetics of business devices. Productivity and functionality came before everything else. And much like business attire, god forbid if you walked into a meeting with a casual machine!
Just consider 2009’s Dell Precision M6500 workstation. It was fat, cumbersome and ungainly, even by standards then. Fast-forward four years to 2013, and the Precision M6700 may look slightly thinner, but not a whole lot has changed.
After our brush with next-generation business devices like the HP Elite x2 and EliteBook Folio G1, we can’t help but feel that the winds are shifting.
Enterprise devices are starting to look better and better in a really short span of time. In fact, going by their design and specification trends, it appears increasingly likely that you’ll end up using the same device for work and entertainment by your next upgrade.
More telling was the manner in which HP showed oﬀ its new devices at the company’s print and PC launch event in Macau in early April. HP didn’t just take to the stage to extol the virtues of the respective products, it trotted out a polished presentation featuring fresh-faced models; even going a step further to create fictitious profiles – where each was a young, upstart professional with a life outside of work – showing how its latest products fit perfectly into both work and play.
Enterprise devices are starting to look better and better in a really short span of time.
To put it bluntly, This is a generation that wants its devices to look good.
And there’s a very good reason why the presentation was so snazzy, fashionable even. More than 30 percent of the workforce in Asia Pacific and Japan are millennials, and to put it bluntly, this is a generation that wants its devices to look good. By 2020, millennials are even expected to comprise half of the global workforce. Furthermore, 62 percent of the workforce now works from more than one location, and flexible working hours and telecommuting are on the rise.
What this all means is that the traditional, spatial barriers that divided work and life are breaking down, and the two are rapidly converging. It used to be that you did work in the oﬃce, and went home to your life. But now that technological advances have allowed us to work untethered from our oﬃce desks – and combined with the increasing prevalence of BYOD policies – it’s become more important Bang & Olufsen Audio for business devices to actually be something that we want to take home with us.
Still, it may be a little early to conclude that consumer and business devices will eventually become one and the same, but what we can say is that they are becoming remarkably similar. As it turns out, HP’s Macau event oﬀered a clue as to where this might all be going. While the majority of the devices showed belonged to its enterprise line-up, HP also revealed in the same breath the HP Spectre, its new darling consumer notebook that also happens to be the world’s thinnest at a mere 10.4mm. When such a striking machine like the Spectre shares the stage with a host of fairly attractive enterprise devices, you know you can no longer think of them as being entirely diﬀerent.
This convergence between work and play is taking place on two fronts – design and form factor. For the first time, companies are including design as a key factor when conceptualizing enterprise devices, and thinking about how well these devices can perform for entertainment, outside of a cubicle. It has eﬀectively become a fourpronged approach, with design and entertainment joining the longstanding considerations of security and productivity.
This convergence between work and play is taking place on two fronts – design and form factor.
For better or for worse, work and life are converging. T he industry is rife with examples of business devices taking on the design characteristics of consumer notebooks. For starters, there is Dell’s new line-up of Latitude and Precision notebooks for mobile workers and professionals. Notebooks like the Latitude 13 7000 and thePrecision 15 5510 bear an unmistakable resemblance to Dell’s successful XPS series of consumer notebooks, and the latter even sports a similar carbon fiber finish and edge-to-edge display. Dell is assuming that by porting over a well-received design, it will be able to replicate the success on its enterprise products, and from what we can see, that’s sound reasoning right there.
Similarly, HP’s second-generation 2-in-1 hybrid, the Elite x2 is a good case study for drastic evolution of design. While the first iteration of the device, released in 2014, was a decidedly unstylish and very ordinary-looking machine that could simply be separated into two halves, the Elite x2 looks nothing like it. Instead, it looks a lot like the Spectre x2, with a nearly identical kickstand and detachable keyboard.
Then there’s the EliteBook 1040 and 800 series notebooks, which appear to have taken a leaf from the look-book of HP’s Envy laptops. Again, if you don’t look too closely, you could be forgiven for mistaking one for the other.
Finally, we have the EliteBook Folio G1. At only 12.4mm thick, it is almost shockingly thin for an enterprise device, thinner even than Apple’s 2015 MacBook. The device is undeniably sleek, and light as well, terms that aren’t usually associated with notebooks in this category.
Lenovo appears to have caught on too. At CES this year, it unveiled a new family of X1 devices that also trumpeted how thin and light they were. And while Lenovo has been making a ThinkPad Yogas for some time already, this is the first instance of it placing the X1 and Yoga branding side by Hardware side in the naming of the new ThinkPad X1 Yoga convertible. We may be reading too much into it, but it’s interesting that this is the year that Lenovo decided to put the business-facing X1 tag beside the consumeroriented Yoga branding.
What’s more, the X1 Yoga is the first convertible to feature an OLED display, a technology that promises better-looking screens with improved contrast ratios and detail retention across a wider dynamic range. That sounds like something more suited to an entertainment machine than a no-nonsense business device, but perhaps Lenovo isn’t playing by these assumptions anymore?
For better or for worse, work and life are converging – a trend that’s reflected in the growing similarities between enterprise and consumer products. To put it all together, not only are design features of consumers devices percolating to their businessoriented counterparts, alternative form factors like tablets and convertibles are also becoming more prominent. Business devices are no longer staid, utilitarian aﬀairs to be used exclusively at your oﬃce desk.
Instead, they’re increasingly becoming sleek and stylish products that you’d be happy to stash in your briefcase or tote bag, for use at home or at a neighboring Starbucks. And when you’re done with work, this new generation of devices will gladly fire up the latest season of The Walking Dead for you while you’re lounging on the couch.
Business devices are no longer staid, utilitarian aﬀairs to be used exclusively at your oﬃce desk.