Previous Blogs

September 25, 2018
Microsoft and Partners Evolve the Modern Enterprise Desktop

September 18, 2018
AI Application Usage Evolving Rapidly

September 11, 2018
The Many Paths and Parts to 5G

September 4, 2018
Tech Content Needs Regulation

August 28, 2018
Survey: Real World AI Deployments Still Limited

August 21, 2018
Nvidia RTX Announcement Highlights AI Influence on Computer Graphics

August 14, 2018
The Shifting Nature of Technology at Work

August 7, 2018
The Beauty of 4K

July 31, 2018
The Future of End User Computing

July 24, 2018
5G Complexity to Test Standards

July 17, 2018
California Data Privacy Law Highlights Growing Frustration with Tech Industry

July 10, 2018
Dual Geographic Paths to the Tech Future

July 3, 2018
The Changing Relationship Between People and Technology

June 12, 2018
The Business of Business Software

June 5, 2018
Siri Shortcuts Highlights Evolution of Voice-Based Interfaces

May 29, 2018
Virtual Travel and Exploration Apps Are Key to Mainstream VR Adoption

May 22, 2018
The World of AI Is Still Taking Baby Steps

May 15, 2018
Device Independence Becoming Real

May 8, 2018
Bringing Vision to the Edge

May 1, 2018
The Shifting Enterprise Computing Landscape

April 24, 2018
The "Not So" Late, "And Still" Great Desktop PC

April 17, 2018
The Unseen Opportunities of AR and VR

April 10, 2018
The New Security Reality

April 3, 2018
Making AI Real

March 27, 2018
Will IBM Apple Deal Let Watson Replace Siri For Business Apps?

March 20, 2018
Edge Servers Will Redefine the Cloud

March 13, 2018
Is it Too Late for Data Privacy?

March 6, 2018
The Hidden Technology Behind Modern Smartphones

February 27, 2018
The Surprising Highlight of MWC: Audio

February 20, 2018
The Blurring Lines for 5G

February 13, 2018
The Modern State of WiFi

February 6, 2018
Wearables to Benefit from Simplicity

January 30, 2018
Smartphone Market Challenges Raise Major Questions

January 23, 2018
Hardware-Based AI

January 16, 2018
The Tech Industry Needs Functional Safety

January 9, 2018
Will AI Power Too Many Smart Home Devices?

January 2, 2018
Top Tech Predictions for 2018

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TECHnalysis Research Blog

October 2, 2018
Are Leather and LTE the Future of PCs?

By Bob O'Donnell

As technology evolution and maturation continue to move forward, many PC and other device companies emphasize the experience of using their products as key to their design philosophy. The goal, they say, isn’t just to deliver on the key technical requirements and other specs necessary to provide good performance, but to make the overall encounter with their devices engaging and inspiring.

Few, if any, however, have taken the experience concept to the level that HP Inc. has done with their new Spectre Folio convertible PC design. How about a PC that you actually want to smell? Thanks to its very attractive leather-based design, the company has managed to create an elegant, premium feeling and, oh yeah, pleasant-smelling notebook computer that also incorporates an intriguing new take on convertible designs.

Rather than simply wrapping a notebook in leather, HP has actually built the Spectre Folio into the leather casing in a way that makes it an integral part of the device. The end result on the outside is a device that has the smooth, wonderfully tactile sensation that leather provides on quality briefcases, handbags, portfolios, and other non-tech products. Inside, however, is a fan-less, 0.6” thin PC design—driven in part by the non-porous nature of leather—that still manages to incorporate Intel’s new 8th generation Amber Lake 5-watt Y-Series CPU designs (both i5 and i7 versions are available), 802.11ac WiFi, up to 18 hours of battery life, a 13.3” 400-nit display, and an option for a 4K screen. It’s a tremendous mashup of both old-world craftmanship and cutting-edge technology. At a starting price of $1,299, it’s not a cheap offering, but it’s in the range of what you’d expect to pay for a premium device.

Another interesting aspect of the convertible design on the Spectre Folio is the ability to pivot the bottom of the screen forward into a tent mode that’s much easier to do than on typical, hinge-based designs (and doesn’t require the screen-switching hassle, either). So, if you want to watch a movie on a plane, or present slides to someone nearby, you can easily do so, and still leverage the touchpad, which is actually a nice detail of the design. Like many convertibles, the Spectre Folio also ships standard with a cordless pen with 4,096 points of pressure. One additional convenience, however, is that it fits neatly into the pen loop built into the side of the leather casing, making it less likely (at least theoretically!) to be lost.

In addition to its luxurious design, the Spectre Folio offers another intriguing connectivity option: an Intel-built LTE modem offering up to 1 Gigabit download speeds. Of course, with the Always Connected PC initiative, Qualcomm has been banging the drum of cellular connected PCs for a while now, and PC companies have offered integrated modems for years. Despite both these efforts, attach rates for LTE-equipped PCs have remained very low, due in part to the additional cost of a monthly data plan, as well as the ease of using integrated hotspot capability in today’s smartphones.

While none of these issues are completely going away with the Spectre Folio—though HP and Intel announced a special deal with Sprint that offers free cellular service for 6 months when you purchase one—another issue is starting to become a bigger concern: security. With the rising awareness of the potential vulnerabilities in public WiFi networks, many individuals and businesses are started to reconsider their connectivity choices and looking seriously at the private, single device connections offered by LTE cellular networks. I certainly don’t expect to see a massive shift occur anytime soon, but if there’s anything that’s going to make integrated LTE a more attractive option to some, it’s security that could start to shift the tide.

One nice detail of the Spectre Folio LTE implementation is that it includes both support for a physical SIM card and an eSIM. Many US carriers have been somewhat reluctant to support eSIMs in the past because of the potential ease of switching between carriers (they enable “digital” switching instead of having to get a new SIM). However, now that Apple added eSIM support in their latest line of iPhones, the tide of carrier support for them is already starting to change.

The new HP offering represents an intriguing new option for the premium PC market. While it’s easy to write off the leather-wrapped design as little more than a gimmick, the ability to bring an appealing physical experience to a quality digital experience is likely something that many demanding PC users are going to find attractive. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it inspire a raft of competitors that offer similar physical advancements—especially given the overall device experience focus that so many PC companies now have. Given the more evolutionary advancements now occurring in PC technology, it just makes sense to bring new tactile improvements to our everyday computing.

Here's a link to the 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.

Leveraging more than 10 years of award-winning, professional radio experience, TECHnalysis Research participates in a video-based podcast called Everything Technology.
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